U in A Q

Little things can cause big breakdowns

After what seemed like a very long wait but was really a short time in the production of a new drug, there are now several Covid vaccines in existence and people are being vaccinated around the world. In Pakistan too the process is underway using Sinopharm, the vaccine made in China and donated by it to Pakistan. This week a further 5,00,000 doses were donated. The country now possesses a million doses, sufficient to vaccinate only a fraction of the country’s massive population. Out of these doses, according to this newspaper, more than 72,000 have already been administered at centres all over the country. In addition the Russian vaccine Sputnik is to be commercially available soon.

According to this newspaper, in Pakistan there is an ‘alarming increase in the covid 19 cases as transmission rages out of control.’ Punjab in particular is of concern.

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With a fraction of the population being vaccinated, the outcome is iffy and anyone’s guess. Now yet again you wonder when anything will be done to stem the growth of the country’s population, a population that stymies every attempt at improvement in every field, health, education, housing, sanitation…. whenever, if ever, such attempts are made. For now the government and the opposition seem all too occupied with a never ending power struggle and little else, but then that’s nothing new. Of course if the outlay on the 23rd of March festivities were to be used for vaccinations instead that would save many hundreds of thousands of more lives, but then we seem to need constant reminders as to who wields the stick and owns the cow, so to speak.

Still, whoever is organising the vaccinations is not doing too bad a job. Oh, people will always get what they want out of turn, and the rich and powerful will always be catered to above and beyond anyone else, but then this is Pakistan.

Lahore’s Expo Centre is a large venue, well suited to vaccinating a crowd. There is ample parking and the building is at an easy distance. There is provision for wheelchairs and transport for those unable to handle the walk. The people at the entrance were speedily let into a hall where seating was provided, well spaced as required. Officials along the walls were processing forms, checking NICOP IDs and the codes provided after registering for the vaccine. Well organised and commendable.

Awaiting one’s turn means recognizing someone else’s right and allowing them precedence where required, and placing oneself in the correct place to receive one’s own. It means a sense of fairness and the ability to rise above the gulf that exists in societies such as ours. Without this sense of fairness the poor will remain poor and will always suffer, while the rich will gain only the short term fruit of their aggressiveness and will remain what they are at present… the spoilt entitled scions of a corrupt few belonging to a poor, failed state.

It was as the forms were processed and people came up to the doors to go in for vaccination that the problem started.

Remember once again that in this country a queue is understood as nothing beyond a letter of the alphabet, if a person’s experience extends to that, and it often does not.

Even in the alphabet, a Q needs U behind it to make it work, and the problem in Pakistan is that everybody is doing their utmost to get ahead of the Q and not stay in their place. And that is what happened at the Expo Centre.

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Many people have been trying as far as possible to adhere to the prescribed SOPs, which means keeping a distance between themselves and the next person. In this case however the scrum at those doors threw any social distancing out the door. Yes those in charge tried to get people to form a line, to take their turn and to act rationally but it didn’t work. The reason was that those in charge were almost all young men from non-affluent backgrounds. The affluent crowd that formed the bulk of those at the Expo Centre was going to take no directions from them.

So add this to the problems pointed out above: an unwieldy population, and an inability to await one’s turn. And the third problem of a certain small set of persons considering themselves above the much more numerous rest.

No country will find itself making any progress until such problems are given the importance that is their due, and until such problems are resolved. The inability to form a queue may seem laughably trivial in the larger scheme of things, when people are dying in a pandemic and all the other problems that beset a country such as Pakistan, but it is not a trivial matter.

Awaiting one’s turn means recognizing someone else’s right and allowing them precedence where required, and placing oneself in the correct place to receive one’s own. It means a sense of fairness and the ability to rise above the gulf that exists in societies such as ours. Without this sense of fairness the poor will remain poor and will always suffer, while the rich will gain only the short term fruit of their aggressiveness and will remain what they are at present… the spoilt entitled scions of a corrupt few belonging to a poor, failed state.

Rabia Ahmed
The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at http://rabia-ahmed.blogspot.com/

1 COMMENT

  1. Hey Ish Sab Sukhi Ho Koi Naa Ho Dukhari;
    Sab Ho Nirog Bhagwan Dhan Dhaanya Ke Bhandari;
    Sab Bhadra Bhav Dekhe Sanmarga Ke Pathik Ho;
    Dukhiya Naa Koi Hoy Duniya Mein Praan Dhari;
    Hey Ish Sab Sukhi Ho Koi Naa Ho Dukhari.

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