Opportunity

Silenced Guns

Is it possible for global powers to discuss the futility of
war against each other? COVID-19 is an opportunity for
peace that may not come again.

By Nikhat Sattar | August 2020

Driving along one of the busiest shopping streets of Karachi was a pleasant surprise. On a road that was always cloaked in garbage with with flying plastic bags all around, there was not a single bag to be seen, nor a single item of waste. It was as pristine as you can get, given the dust-laden environment of this metropolis. The reason: a few weeks of closed shops and people made to stay at home. Paradoxically, the result was an environment better suited for humans.

A similar situation prevails the world over. Cleaner streets, pure and fresh air outdoors and, barring homes where domestic violence has been reported to be on the rise, children and parents spending quality time and learning to be together again. Health professionals are honoured and celebrated for their front-line role as many have already succumbed to the disease. With more time and motivation, home dishes are cooked as against fast food. Of course, problems of unemployment, lack of food security and poverty are exacerbated but the silver lining is that these are sinking into the consciousness of those who possess the wherewithal to do something about it.

The greater difference, which might become the real game-changer, is that many countries, especially the African ones, have responded positively to the call for a global ceasefire from the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. Around 70 member states and other organisations have endorsed the call, as has Pope Francis. This would bolster the efforts already in place to bring peace to Africa by September 2020.

The US has asked the Taliban to bring their strikes to a halt in the wake of the spreading virus so that all efforts of the Afghan government could be directed towards fighting the disease and not other humans. That Trump is blaming China for the virus, thus starting another controversy, is another matter. Calls for peace have not had much effect on the constant war in Yemen, between the rebel Houthis supported by Iran and pro-government forces supported by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Israel continues its oppression and increasing annexation of Palestinian land and homes with the US going so far as stopping delivery of health equipment to the former.

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