Hello, Mr Prime Minister!

Author: Daily Times

Remember, when an important-looking man appearing on our television screens meant only one thing: “meray azeez hum watno” (my dear countrymen). An entire generation of Pakistanis that grew with such abrupt heralding of martial law must have a hard time at seeing their prime minister pop in to say hello. A staunch believer in transparency, Prime Minister Imran Khan has tried several stone-throws to try open the government’s black box. Since February, he has tried opening the channels to his citizens through telephonic sessions on numerous occasions and Sunday’s well-curated live-athon was no different.

As COVID has been the new black for much longer than anyone wanted, there were several queries about the widespread Delta variant. Unwavering in his much-touted advocacy for poor segments of the society, he once again came down hard on the Sindh government for imposing a lockdown without considering “the issue of hunger … the daily wage earners and especially the poor section of our society.” The skipper and his team have been pretty vocal against CM Shah going against the federal preference and pushing the economy to an absolute standstill. Since the beta-global city of Karachi practically houses Pakistan’s industrial as well as financial hub, any breakdowns there are bound to impact the entire country. Now, no one can deny the urgency of the fast-escalating uptick in coronavirus cases. Not even the prime minister. Yes, the overwhelming detection ratio of 33 per cent and COVID-19 units in Karachi’s hospitals nearing full capacity have made the situation quite alarming. However, going by the success of the skipper’s smart lockdown, he was bound to make a spectacle of his position. Showered by global appreciation–even by the likes of the UN–and seeing many developing nations follow in his footsteps, there must be something good about his policy. And this treading the tight rope between lives and livelihoods is what he has been asking the Sindh government to opt for.

It is one thing to chalk up its predicament on the epidemiology of the new strain but the staggering gap between the vaccinated and unvaccinated lies entirely on CM Shah and Co’s shoulders.

We cannot, under any circumstances, make light of the federal government’s efforts to procure and distribute vaccinations. Yes, we started on a rocky footing, but Islamabad has now ramped up the pursual of its ambitious target. Though a million miles away from jabbing 70 million citizens, we are trying our best to jog along.

Even if the Sindh administration was sensing a backlog from federal quarters, it should have been greatly vigilant about SOPs implementation. Allowing people to flout regulations, failure to keep a check on infected international travellers and just pooh-poohing the general vaccine hesitancy were all akin to shooting itself in the foot. Now stuck in a quagmire between saving its own skin and preventing its fortress from becoming a new hunger hotspot, the ruling PPP is in a deep quagmire. In the words of PM Khan, how can “you…keep hungry people under a lockdown if you do not have the resources to bring them food?” *

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