- And a flip-flopping government
On Wednesday evening Pakistan exceeded China in the number of covid-19 positive cases. This should discourage the government leaders from resorting to the hackneyed refrain of the pandemic cases in Pakistan being still below its projections. The government is opening up tourist resorts while maintaining that it would strengthen the lockdown wherever it sees gross violations of the SOPs. It seems to have belatedly discovered that regulations meant to stop the spread of the virus cannot be implemented through advice.
The PTI leadership does the right thing only once it has exhausted the alternatives. Finding that appeals-cum-warnings by the PM and his team did not produce the desired effect and that there were few takers for Federal Minister Asad Umar’s “no mask, no service” advice, the government has decided to come down hard on those who violate the SOPs.
With 607 corona patients dead in Punjab over the period, the province has suffered the largest number of mortalities in the country. When the Islamabad administration decided to impose a fine of Rs 3000 for violation of SOPs, Punjab CM Usman Buzdar said he had no intention of following suit. The figures seem to have had a sobering impact on Mr Buzdar. He has reportedly decided to put his foot down to ensure implementation of SOPs in some of the worst-hit Punjab cities through punitive measures. Markets found to be lax would be closed down, buses violating SOPs stopped from plying and anybody in a public place without mask fined on the spot.
What worries one is that the PTI government can suddenly take an about turn to wriggle out from some of its some of its major commitments. It continues to maintain that it has a sufficient supply of PPEs and ventilators, and sufficient capacity in hospitals. However it has suddenly resiled from the responsibility to provide quarantine facilities to expatriates returning from abroad. Does it imply that the number of pandemic affectees has reached a point where it is no more possible to accommodate them in the present quarantine centres? What will happen if the numbers climb to a point where hospitals beds are found to be insufficient? Will corona patients be told to fend for themselves as they are themselves responsible for the illness?