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Flight from reality

179 11 100

WITH the country reeling from a surge in coronavirus cases and fatalities the government has chosen to remain in a state of denial about the more serious turn the health crisis is now taking. In the past one month, coronavirus cases have seen a four-fold increase, with Pakistan overtaking China in Covid-19 infections. The number of fatalities has trebled in the past fortnight alone. Yet the government decided to follow a risky course and lift most restrictions while acknowledging at the same time that coronavirus cases will multiply.

The government’s distractions from managing the crisis also seem to be increasing by the day. It has been engaged in ad nauseam arguments over the sugar commission report, allegations of malfeasance against opposition leaders and, all the while, directing partisan attacks against the Sindh government.

This perhaps is unsurprising. From the outset, the government seemed to play down the gravity of the health emergency and kept sending mixed public messages. The various political fronts engaging the government’s attention also had the effect of shifting the public and media’s focus from the health crisis. Instead, it spawned a business-as-usual environment.

The government seems to have been guided in its response to the pandemic by several assumptions. One, that Pakistan was much better off than the world’s worst affected countries and that this situation would somehow be self-sustaining. By making the hardest-hit countries the frame of reference officials appeared to lull themselves — and the public — into a sense of complacency. Today Pakistan happens to be number 17 out of 188........

© Dawn

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