The Tiger Force has been reduced to a joke
Announced with much fanfare and hope, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ‘Tiger Force’, a collection of volunteers who would lead relief efforts amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, has become something of a joke. The name for instance, could have been framed better and rather than going with something so party-specific should have been one with a more unifying national undertone; Imran Khan has been calling his teammates ‘Tigers’ since his cricketing days. But the central problem with the ‘Tiger Force’, as with many other PTI initiatives pre-corona and during it, is implementation and deployment. The force that was announced in March and was to be ‘activated immediately’ when the pandemic had taken a foothold in the country and had started to spread, was hardly visible in the field where it was supposed to raise awareness about the Coronavirus and provide food and other essentials to the poorest and difficult-to-reach areas. Later, once the so-called lockdown was lifted, its role was redefined to ensure that the government’s SOPs were being followed in markets and other public areas. Yesterday, Mr Khan, now that cases and deaths are rising dangerously and exponentially on a daily basis, finally revisited the idea of the so far relatively redundant ‘Tiger Relief Force’. That the force, according to Mr Khan, will not only come handy in addressing the pandemic but will also be used to fight against natural calamities such as Climate Change and the ongoing locusts plague, reminds one of Jared Kushner. The US President’s son-in-law is in charge of some of the most complicated domestic and foreign policy issues the country faces, including but not limited to ‘peace in the Middle East’ and ‘ending the ‘opioid crisis’.
It can be argued that the formation of the body, with a local bodies system in place, was unnecessary. Of course that would have meant coordinating with opposition parties to provide relief to even those areas that are PML(N) or PPP strongholds, which is something the PTI is quite allergic to. The government’s uncalled-for blatant attack on Sindh’s objectively better initial response to the pandemic is a case in point. Sadly, the PM’s Tiger Force will be placed in the ever-expanding annals of failed PTI projects that will still be defended by the party despite being indefensible.