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Fault lines in focus

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A CRISIS is a crucial moment in the life of a nation that often denotes much deeper phenomena by laying bare long-standing flaws. The calamity wreaked by Covid-19 has exposed political, economic and social weaknesses in many countries as well as fatal gaps in medical care. The coronavirus challenge stretched the capacity of governments around the world and made unprecedented demands on healthcare systems, but it also exposed underlying frailties that existed well before the outbreak.

In Pakistan, too, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on a number of fault lines. Four are important and should be addressed when the crisis is over. They are: the huge deficit in public healthcare in an otherwise expansive state apparatus; strained centre-province relations; the federal government’s inability to withstand pressure from a few clergy members on the Covid-19 response; and unstructured governance at the centre. Each has been consequential for handling the health emergency, but all have long been characteristics of the country’s political landscape.

The first fault line is the consequence of the lack of attention shown by successive governments to the social sector in general and the country’s grossly inadequate healthcare system in particular. Although most leaders paid lip service to increasing social sector spending, this never received the priority — and budget — needed to keep pace with the continual rise in the country’s population.

Human security — the security of people — often featured in official power point presentations, and still does. But it was never operationalised by framing policy and allocating resources. Nor were........

© Dawn

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