- PM must step up to the plate
Addressing the parliamentary leaders, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged them to stay united and continue discussion and reassessment of the strategies to tackle the spread of coronavirus. Instead of listening to the views of the leaders of major political parties invited to the video conference, he went offline after concluding his address, showing that he had little interest in national unity or a debate on the strategies to deal with the fast spreading pandemic. This exposed the hollowness of his claim that the government could only meet the challenge through the collective efforts of the nation.
Mr Khan was right when he said that a lockdown would cause hardships to a large section of the daily wagers, hawkers and those doing odd jobs to eke out a living. He was also right when he said that stoppage of the goods transport, particularly in the fast approaching harvesting season, would harm the economy. However what one expects from a leader is not a reiteration of problems, but to a finding of solutions.
So far, whatever inventiveness has been displayed in dealing with the crisis has come from the Sindh government. After discussing strategies with some half a dozen reputable NGOs to distribute free rations to deserving families, the Sindh government has already set them into motion. Instead of wasting time on complaints about the shortage of equipment for hospitals, the Sindh CM has placed orders for the required material from the provincial resources. The solutions may encounter hurdles, but the mere attempt to put them to trial inspires confidence that the unforeseen hitches would also be taken care of.
There is little that one hears from Punjab, the largest province of the country, about new initiatives to alleviate the hardships caused by the lockdown. A perception is fast growing that Chief Minister Usman Buzdar will simply follow in the footsteps of Sindh after waiting for a week. Sindh has already banned all religious gatherings to avoid the spread of coronavirus while the Punjab government has not gone beyond seeking fatwas from religious scholars. One does not expect the PM or the CMs to act as bystanders busy in nitpicking, instead of offering solutions to the problems being faced by the people.