- Indecisiveness can be dangerous
Dealing with the coronavirus and its aftereffects is going to be a Herculean task. What is further adding to the difficulties is the federal government’s reluctance to take timely decisions on crucial matters. During the National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting on Friday the PM again reiterated his reservations about the lockdown which is already being observed in three provinces. Health SAPM Dr Zafar Mirza has shown reluctance to accept eminent haematologist Dr Tahir Shamsi’s proposal to urgently make preparations for passive immunization before the country is unable to afford more ventilators. With the NCC, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan unwilling to issue instructions to stop religious gatherings, tens of thousands of worshippers stood shoulder to shoulder in mosques on Friday disrupting the efforts to stop the virus from spreading further.
The major decisions taken at the NCC moot on Friday revolved around helping those who will have to face severe food deprivation in case of a full scale national lockdown. With industries closed, construction coming to a halt, hotels and shopping malls shuttered and transport mostly suspended, the private sector work force is largely out of a job. Similarly, rickshaw and taxi drivers, domestic labour, street vendors and those attached to the gig economy are left with no source of income. With no savings at their disposal, hundreds of thousands would risk starvation. What is needed is to supply dry rations in rural areas and open takeaway soup kitchens in poor urban localities
Mr Khan has come up with the idea of raising a Coronavirus Tiger Force to distribute food. Inspiring youth to defy risks and rise to the occasion by helping the needy is creditable provided the intention is not to revive the PTI’s defunct Tiger Force.
The NCC moot decided to use the funds at the disposal of the Ehsaas programme to help the needy keep the wolf from the door. It also decided to issue an appeal for donations to all Pakistanis living in the country as swell as the expatriates. There is also a need to divert the funds collected for dams to help the jobless poor. What is required most is timely and decisive action. The country’s leadership cannot afford Hamlet-like vacillation.