CITY NOTES: Stepping into the sunlight, eyes blinking | Pakistan Today

CITY NOTES: Stepping into the sunlight, eyes blinking

Well, it seems we have entered the post-COVID-19 world. The emergence from lockdown means that we are now on our own, and have to take whatever measures we can to escape. We’ve had a preview of an end to lockdown in the taraveeh congregations.  We are proving that we are Pakistanis, which means normal rules do not apply to us, so with deaths increasing every day (more people dying every day, not just the total increasing, which will still happen when we are past the peak), and without any more testing facilities in place, we are entering what is called a smart lockdown (which distinguishes it from the stupid, dumb, retarded, wrongheaded one imposed by the Sindh government).

So if we call it a smart lockdown, we have the best of both worlds. We’re open for business, but we can claim we went into lockdown. It seems that Imran’s concern for the plight of the daily wager, or the petty businessman who earns by the day, is actually tough love: work or die. Well, that’s what people are used to anyway; and there’s to be no coddling by giving them free money. And if they can’t self-isolate, then then they should catch the virus and die.

Of course, no one is going to admit that their death was because of the coronavirus pandemic. Look, if an old person kicks the bucket from pneumonia, unless they tested positive for coronavirus, their death won’t be counted. And no one is going to take a sample from a corpse, are they? Besides, no one is going to waste a test on a dead person with such an acute shortage of testing kits.

Somehow, I suspect that this strategy was suggested by an SHO of the old school, heavy of hand and large of a paunch, who has grown old in the service of converting the story of a dacoity gabbled out by a panicked householder into an armed robbery by the simple expedient of making him say that there were four robbers, not five. And if he can make him say he didn’t see any knives (and keep his trap shut about the shotguns they were carrying), then what had started out as a dacoity ends up as a theft.

So if we don’t test for COVID-19, nobody will suffer from it, right? It’s a little bit like the economy before the pandemic. Imran seemed to follow the policy of saying that nothing was wrong with it. People heard, but neither had any money in their pockets, or saw things getting cheaper. In the same way, if Imran insists that there’s no pandemic, if people keep on keeling over, no one will feel confident.

Well, to change the subject to Ramzan, it seems there’s been a murder in Kohistan over sehri. A husband shot his wife because she wouldn’t give him a hot meal. In this weather, a hot meal might not be the best idea. Of course, I don’t know about Kohistan. Still, it seems an over-reaction.

The murder also took place at the man’s in-laws, which means his wife’s house. He was probably not a stranger there, because his uncle was also his father-in-law. I suspect wheels within wheels. Maybe the man was a vehement PTI supporter (KP has been twice ruled by the PTI), disappointed by the hot weather’s conspiracy against his leader, in not appearing and killing off the coronavirus.

The Almighty is probably receiving two contradictory prayers from down the taravih congregations the government has so generously allowed. First, that Ramzan weather might be comfortable. Second, that the coronavirus threat be ended. The first can only happen if the weather is abnormally cool for this time of the year. The second needs the weather to be intensely hot, even by the standards of this time of the year. The first is happening, so the second isn’t.

Meanwhile, it seems that business must go on as usual. The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, was in town, wondering why the peace deal was falling through, and why the Taliban and the Kabul government were not exchanging prisoners. Is anybody waiting for a post-COVID-19 future? Or did everyone just take their eye off the ball because of the pandemic?

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