Presenting a united front | Pakistan Today

Presenting a united front

  • The Prime Minister must take along all provinces

Perhaps it was lucky that the Balochistan government was formed by PTI allies. The sentiments expressed by Prime Minister Imran Khan on his visit to Quetta did not so much as play politics with the Covid-19 pandemic as cause consternation among those who had hoped for the federal government to express a more unified message upon tackling the covid-19 pandemic. His saying that Balochistan was not as much of victim was hardly encouraging to those there fighting beyond their ability. It also played the insidious game of making the provinces play the essentially purposeless game of who has suffered the most. At the same time, the hint he dropped about the provinces deciding when to end the lockdown makes him just a spectator, rather than the ultimate decision-maker, in this question. Nothing is more crucial to millions of people when the lockdown might end. Mr Khan himself seems to be showing an unusual hesitancy, which may or may not reflect more detailed information. Certainly, the figures released are about the number of cases broken down by province, not by age, gender or otherwise, which information would be more helpful to public health officials both at home or abroad.

The level of ignorance has been heightened because of the failure to extend testing. All the national efforts to handle the pandemic have relied on extensive testing; tracing of contacts of those diagnosed as positive, followed by further tracing, further testing, and so on. By making testing merely a tool for some labs to make money, this effort was sabotaged. Is it possible that the PM is privy to information that he has deemed too scary to be released to the general public? As he might have seen from the release of the investigation report of the wheat and sugar shortages, the public can be trusted with information.

If the lockdown is to continue, the public has a right to know. It also has a right to know just how bad the situation really is. The Prime Minister should remember that it might be possible to hide number of people infected that might have been revealed by testing, but it is going to be impossible to hide those people when they start dying off without treatment.