In a joint statement issued at the end of President Arif Alvi’s visit to China, the two countries have rightly underlined that the coronavirus is a common challenge for humanity, and all countries should unite and cooperate to overcome it together. With almost all the countries of the world having been affected by the pandemic in varying degrees and the possibility of the virus further aggravating the situation, there is no other way to deal with the menace other than to grapple with it collectively at the global level. The virus has done tremendous damage to economies across the world, besides inflicting indelible scars on the psyche of the people and causing thousands of deaths. Any further aggravation in the spread of the virus could very well trigger an economic recession of unknown proportions.
While the developed nations are capable of stemming the economic rot through relief packages which many of the European countries have already announced, limit the damage by the virus through their state-of-the-art health facilities and the scientific and biological know-how, third world countries will find it more difficult to cope with the situation. The spread of the virus in those countries would spell greater disaster than in developed nations. It could cause innumerable deaths besides crippling their economies.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his address to the nation was right on the money to observe that Pakistan could not afford the same response to the pandemic like European countries, adding though the situation in Pakistan was not as grave as in other countries, but the virus was likely to spread. He however, urged the nation not to panic and take all appropriate precautionary measures. While urging global response to the challenge he also asked the affluent nations and international lending countries to write-off loans given to the developing countries to mitigate their sufferings.
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He was very realistic and candid about the situation. While admiring the efforts made by the Army and Balochistan government he admitted that it was quite a difficult undertaking to provide adequate facilities at Taftan for the pilgrims returning from Iran. It is pertinent to point out that the steps taken by the government so far to prevent the spread of the virus are quite satisfactory as has also been acknowledged by the World Health Organisation (WHO) but as pointed out by the Prime Minister, Pakistan was not capable of coming up with similar responses as by developed nations. It is a humanitarian issue and needs to be handled collectively.
It is encouraging to note that Saudi Arabia, in view of the impending disaster, has convened a meeting of the G-20 with a view to deal with the economic impact of the virus and also saving human lives from this devastating impact of the virus. It is surely not the time to stigmatise any country or trade barbs over coronavirus as has been done by President Trump by calling the pathogen the ‘China Virus’ which has rightly irked the Chinese. The two countries have sparred over the origin of the virus for days with the Chinese officials promoting conspiracy theories claiming it was brought to China by the US Army and American officials.
China and US are economically and scientifically the most advanced countries of the world. Their coming together and leading the other nations for a collective crusade against the virus can surely save the world from this unprecedented disaster. They must pool their scientific and medical expertise in finding an effective vaccine for the virus as soon as possible. China has been able to contain the virus and other countries can benefit from her experience in firming up a global response to contain it.
The situation underlines the need to shun politics not only at the global level but also at the national level. It is really regrettable to note that some politicians and political parties in Pakistan are trying to settle scores with the PTI government by castigating its efforts in regards to dealing with the corona virus instead of showing solidarity to cope with the pandemic of coronavirus. Being in the opposition does not necessarily imply that one has to denigrate every initiative of the government, particularly in a situation confronting the country at the moment. This is not acceptable. Politics can wait for better times.
The fight against the virus shall have to be fought collectively by all the segments of the society. The government cannot cope with the situation on its own without the people cooperating with it by observing the precautionary measures, as prevention is better than cure. While the federal and provincial governments are dedicatedly engaged in taking preventive measures, it is also imperative that the equipment to detect the virus is also made available at all the district headquarter hospitals across the country besides at the airports and all the hospitals run by the Army so that people can conveniently get themselves checked. There is also a need for strengthening the screening procedure at the airports and immediately isolating arriving passengers found infected by the virus. The cases of virus detected so far mostly pertain to the people who have visited foreign countries in the recent past or are coming from the countries affected by the virus. Therefore, the best chance of preventing the spread of the virus is to have fool-proof arrangements at the airports and all the entry points on the borders with the neighbouring countries.
While the whole nation and the government are geared to battle the emerging scenario, the Prime Minister was right to observe that some unscrupulous elements would try to exploit the situation to their advantage. He particularly warned the profiteers and hoarders to desist from this nefarious act. It is an unfortunate reality in our country that such elements have invariably tried to take advantage of national emergencies. God forbid a situation can arise when the government might have to consider the possibility of partial or complete lockdown in case the virus spreads quickly. Therefore, a strict watch will have to be maintained on such elements because the poor simply cannot afford to bear the consequences of their nefarious machinations.
Although there are many scientific and medical explanations for the spread of the virus, but there is also a spiritual avenue available to the human beings i.e. praying for the mercy of God and changing our way of life that violate the divine commandments. Let us all pray for his mercy and benign blessings.