By Farooq Anwar
The world has not witnessed such a halt as it has in the wake of Covid-19 in living memory. Despite the fact that the entire world, except a few states which just did not contract this pandemic. So far a few states such as Germany, New Zealand and Taiwan (a country which is not affiliated with WHO under Chinese pressure) have fared exceptionally well in arresting the spread of the coronavirus by acting proactively. Surprisingly, all three states have been governed by females! In this backdrop, the performance of Pakistan is no less amazing despite the prevalence of abject poverty, lack of education and awareness, unhygienic practices in almost all aspects of life and a host of issues which could well have compounded the challenge of coronavirus for the government of Pakistan. It offers a bit of comfort to all to go through the statistics on infections, recoveries and fatalities caused by the virus in Pakistan. A developing state like Pakistan has acted belatedly including the PM’s address to the nation of March 17, 2020 against the first reported case on February 27, 2019 the PM succeeded in taking the nation into confidence and assured it that the virus-emergency will be over soon. The biggest challenge for Pakistan and the PM is to keep the economy afloat, keep the economic wheels running and ensure that the downtrodden and the daily wagers do not sleep hungry in the midst of the lockdown stemming from the virus and government efforts to arrest its spread. But this has proven to be a mammoth challenge for the Prime Minister. Now, that the PM is making repeated pleas to the international monetary institutions to write off the loans availed by the poor nations, the concerned institutions have responded generously by relaxing the terms and conditions regulating repayments of the loans. And this is a huge achievement on the part of PM Khan but this is not sufficient. PM Khan also needs to:

• Closely study the plans of other countries which succeeded in arresting the spread of virus despite its spread at snail’s pace and ensure such models are implemented here after finely blending our ground realities into them;

• Ensure deep provincial coordination which has so far been missing among the federating units;
• Direct PEMRA to regulate the content on Covid-19 on mainstream media as well as on social media, most of which is misleading which is resulting in chaos and panic. This load of misinformation may well be considered as “Infodemic”;

• Direct ministry of trade and commerce to continue by-road trade with the neighboring countries by replacing the drivers, cleaners and conductors of the containers and trucks on the borders so the economic activity will continue with the borders still sealed;
• Study other states to learn how do they look after their poor segments of the society and try to establish coordination in order to seek help to stop the poor diving deeper into poverty.

The entire world would not have seen this kind of a grinding halt or at the least reasonably mitigated the effects of the current pandemic if it were conscious of the previous pandemic outbreaks of Bubonic Plague in 1720, Cholera outbreak in 1820, Spanish Flu in 1920 and Covid-19 in 2019.

Because, the nations which keep an eye on the history and tend to learn from it, are less vulnerable to pandemics like these as history has shown us repeatedly that the pandemics know no boundaries and race or genders, etc. By the way, it is a misconception that the Spanish flu which claimed around 50 million lives originated in Spain. It probably emerged in American military forts before spreading through Europe. And ironically Spain was not particularly hard hit. In the light of the above, the world needs to realize that it has to come closer further in terms of deep coordination and extending help indiscriminately and be a global village for all practical purposes unlike the virtual global village we have seen in pre-Covid-19 world because a bigger threat of climate change looms large on our heads which if not taken care of by the entire world, will exact a bigger toll from humanity by inviting more intense pandemics.


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