- A failure of leadership in testing times
With Prime Minister Imran Khan continuing to be indecisive, partial and even obstructive, vital decisions to counter the coronavirus threat on the federal level are being taken by the National Security Committee, albeit belatedly. Among the provinces, the Sindh government alone displayed the capability to take initiatives and efficiency in implementing them. Weeks after the first coronavirus case in Pakistan, the PM finally spoke on the issue saying there was no need for panic, a statement that he keeps repeating. He failed to announce his government’s strategy to deal with the crisis, meanwhile consistently opposing the lockdown imposed by the Sindh government. Mr Khan was bound to be overtaken by events.
When indecisiveness by a Prime Minister begins to cause harm to the country, and the opposition proves incapable of making the ruling party rectify its course, other forces are likely to step in, a development that is already taking place at a rapid pace. Wary of the PTI government’s incompetence, the National Security Committee constituted a few weeks back a National Coordination Committee (NCC) to evaluate the situation on a day-to-day basis. Within days the NCC decided to set up a National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to act as the implementation arm of the NCC. On Wednesday, the NCC decided to extend the lockout over the entire country for two weeks. The same day ISPR announced the designation of a serving Army general as convener of the newly-established NCOC.
The NCOC convener immediately hosted a briefing for important cabinet members and SAPMs. COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and senior military officials also took part in the session which was briefed about the deployment of troops across the country for assisting the civilian agencies and the status of the containment efforts and enforcement measures against Covid-19. The future course of action was also deliberated upon at the meeting. Had the PM displayed leadership instead of leaving “faith and youth” to do the job, the involvement of the unelected sector in policymaking and execution of decisions might have been unnecessary. Hopefully henceforth all sources of proliferation of the coronavirus, including large religious gatherings, will be effectively blocked. Similarly the controversial induction of the Corona Relief Tigers would end, leaving local government bodies to help distribute food wherever needed.