- Emergancy measures show what should be done routinely
High morale among the people of a country leads to hope and confidence and provides citizens with an incentive to work towards the future. Governments therefore have a responsibility to maintain morale among the people they govern, but this morale-boosting must be based on truth, something real to be hopeful about. Word-mongering, empty words without substance, is nothing but the worst kind of electioneering.
What can be done to make a real difference in an emergency such as in these current virus-ridden times?
It’s a tough situation. Whatever course of action is decided upon is condemned by someone or the other. The government must be strong enough to withstand that opposition if it genuinely believes in the measures settles upon. It must also institute such measures that are possible in normal times. Such as measures to maintain hygiene.
Rumour is strong that streets are to be sanitized starting the next day or so. At the time of writing this column this is hearsay. If it is true, that is one good thing that is being done. Although why something short of ‘sanitising’ cannot be done routinely is difficult to understand. It is all about the will to improve things, making a careful plan and sticking to it. As it is, if it is done just the once, it takes little time for the dirt to accumulate once again.
A big factor in the spread of infection in a country like Pakistan are houseflies. Apparently these can carry infection on their legs, and flies are a given in the presence of piles of garbage. (According to the WHO mosquitoes cannot transmit COVID-19). Effective measures for waste management and cleaning are a must in every way, at any time.
The other measure that is possible to take in advance is to stockpile equipment that comes in useful in the event of an emergency such as these pandemics. After all in our own lifetime the COVID-19 pandemic is just one of several such pandemics. There ought at least to be a sufficient quantity of masks and gloves in stock, and expensive as they are, as many ventilators as possible.
Clerics are neither qualified nor elected to represent the people. A government that cannot stand up to them, not once but every time, is not strong enough, and whatever such a government says, is not likely to raise morale in any segment of society. A genuinely strong government on the other hand is capable of raising morale. There is the added advantage of such a government being good for the country
Every hospital needs a protocol, similar to that (which should be) in place in case of fire. Events such as the current pandemic require strict isolation. Detailed plans for this isolation are urgently required, plans involving points where the patients will enter from, where they will be directed to and treated, how they will leave, as well as effective plans for disposal of infected substances. It is NOT possible to determine these at the last minute.
The hardest hit at times like these are the poor, as they are almost on every occasion. Funds must be set aside for such contingencies along with a detailed plan for distribution.
One of the major factors that has surfaced in this, as in many other event, is the role played by the clergy.
It is the government that is the elected representative of the country. The clergy– and other organisations– are not. As such it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that the electorate is as safe from harm as possible. Otherwise, as Muhammad Malik so pertinently enquired, who is responsible in the case of disaster, and the PM accepted that he, as the Prime Minister was. That dialogue incidentally resulted in much furor which ended up in Malik apologizing for some reason. Perhaps he was made to. Anyway.
When events such as the current pandemic take place, isolation is crucially important as has been pointed out. Infection spreads in crowds. As such, all places where crowds accumulate must be temporary shut-down. Therefore schools, cinemas, bazaars, malls, restaurants, and as many offices as possible, these have been shut down. Mosques must be included in this list of places to be shut down. This is up to the government to decide, not the clerics. As it happened this time, the President asked for a fatwa from Al-Azhar, but when it came back saying that yes, mosques should be shut down, the Pakistani clerics did not accept it. It puts one in mind of US President Donald Trump who was intent on not shutting down contact with the UK because that is where his businesses are located.
In Dubai, congregational prayers have been suspended for the period of one month, and the later lines of the azzan there have been amended to say ‘“Al Salat Fi Buyootikum,” which means ‘pray at home’ instead of “Hayya Alasalah” which means ‘come to prayer.’
These decisions are for the people’s representatives to make. Clerics are neither qualified nor elected to represent the people. A government that cannot stand up to them, not once but every time, is not strong enough, and whatever such a government says, is not likely to raise morale in any segment of society. A genuinely strong government on the other hand is capable of raising morale. There is the added advantage of such a government being good for the country.