Covid-19

Never Too Late

The rising rate of infections and fatalities in Pakistan due to Covid-19
has at last forced the government to come down with an iron hand and
enforce strict lockdowns in selected areas.

By S.R.H. Hashmi | July 2020

Most of us would have gone through the process. It would be based on starting our careers and progressing with the times. In the mean time, one would learn to cultivate an appropriate level of relations with the juniors, equals and seniors, interact with different people, alone and in groups, keep an open mind and acquire the ability to cooperate with others despite differences of opinion. One would also learn to develop the capacity to work as a team and rise to higher positions when fully prepared and ready.

Unfortunately, Prime Minister Imran Khan missed this routine. What is worse, he even failed to learn in the 22 years that he spent waiting for the opportunity to lead Pakistan. He landed the position of the Prime Minister of a country like Pakistan – which is not easy to govern anyway - in a fairly raw condition, at the ripe old age of 66 when one’s habits become almost second nature, making adaptation difficult, if not impossible. But then, he is not the only one who missed this opportunity. Many of our politicians started with similar backgrounds, but they succeeded because they started early and made serious efforts to learn.

Remember the stellar performance of Zlulfiqar Ali Bhutto who swept West Pakistan polls so soon after his party’s launch, while Imran Khan, after over two decades’ struggle, barely managed a slim majority, and that too, with support from some coalition partners.

Starting with so many limitations was bound to take its toll. We saw how, during his rare visits to the parliament, Imran Khan made deliberate attempts to avoid shaking hands with opposition politicians.

It is a fact that on the issue of dealing with Covid-19, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah made a far better start as compared to other provinces for which he even received well-deserved international acclaim. Unfortunately, it proved just too much for Imran Khan to bear and he started a campaign against Murad Ali Shah, supported by some of his lieutenants, bitterly criticizing and terming his lockdown elitist and anti-poor. He kept up the onslaught even when his own governments in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa took the same measures as introduced earlier by the Sindh CM. It was because of strict measures introduced by Murad Ali Shah and followed by other provinces, that infections in the early stages remained low throughout the country, despite initial mishandling of the ‘zaireen’ at Taftan and at international airports.

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The writer is a free-lance contributor with interest in regional, South Asian and international affairs. He can be reached at hashmi_srh@hotmail.com

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