- And the need to be vigilant
The government has announced the opening of virtually every closed enterprise, marriage halls and schools excluded. PM Imran Khan has found another use for his Coronavirus Tigers Force that had kept a stand-at-ease posture ever since its creation. After designating August 9 as the Force’s Day it was told to join the tree plantation campaign
The government has been cautioned, among others by doctors, against being over-optimistic as coronavirus has displayed a tendency to re-emerge when everybody is celebrating its disappearance. The government has to remain vigilant, ensure that those who move out of their homes wear masks and observe the SOPs and that government leaders avoid saying or doing anything that creates the perception that all’s well now.
The government faces two challenges in days to come.
Two years of economic slowdown caused by a blind implementation of IMF’s policies and the four months long near shutdown due to the pandemic have taken toll of the national economy, increased the number the unemployed, and pushed millions below the poverty line. Businesses have been lost, some forever. The industry will take years and not months to improve the common man’s plight. People facing hunger and having no jobs may not wait for the trickle down. Unless the government develops adequate support measures for those in dire need, extremist forces may exploit the unrest to their benefit.
The PTI government continues to lose its turf on account of incompetence. It is not the PM who has played a role in resolving crucial issues with China, the Gulf States and Afghanistan. While dealing with coronavirus, the government ministers only played second fiddle to establishment in National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) and National Coordination Committee (NCC). In matters like controlling the mafia comprising hoarders and smugglers, where the help of those who matter was not available, the government’s performance was absolutely zilch.
It’s time the PM improves his relations with the opposition who wants it to complete its tenure. The PM should attend NA sessions, make use of parliamentary committees to prepare bills through consensus and further improve these through parliamentary debate. This will strengthen his administration’s hands, help control the extremist tendencies and extend the civilian government’s turf.