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Daily Times Editorial 10 June 2020

WHO warning


Now that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that Pakistan has met virtually no pre-requisites for easing restrictions, and the numbers of both new cases and deaths are just too high, perhaps the government and the people will finally begin to take the situation a little more seriously. Most countries went for the relaxation once their graphs measuring new cases began to flatten, which makes perfect sense, but Pakistan lifted the lockdown when cases here were rising very steeply. And, to add to the government’s bad timing and indeed poor judgment, the people burst out on to the streets in complete disregard of all official advice and even common sense social distancing protocols considering the deadly nature of the virus. The result is that a lot more people are now dead and dying or suffering than would have been the case if both the government and the people had acted a little more responsibly.
Now the government truly faces a dilemma. One the one hand WHO has recommended a strict two-week lockdown, at least, yet on the other it has made such a strong case about the necessity of reopening that going back now will seriously hurt its reputation and standing. Already there is much discontent about the narrative of the federal government. Even the Supreme Court made so much known to the ruling party, pointing out that it had not initiated any legislation on the matter, besides handling a major crisis through press conference without putting in enough work on the ground. Then there are the sometimes difficult to understand positions of the prime minister himself; sometimes he calls it just a virus which is not dangerous at all and at other times he chides people for calling it just a virus which is not too dangerous.
Whether or not the government is right about the matter, it is abundantly clear that things just cannot go on in the manner that they are. And while the government can sometimes be forgiven for having too many concerns to deal with at any point in time, the behaviour of a large number of people is also dumbfounding. The only countries that have made any progress worth mentioning in the fight against the coronavirus are ones where people have led it by going the extra mile to make sure everybody followed social safety rules. Until the government and the people start acting more responsibly, we will only dig ourselves deeper into this hole.


India is going too far


It seems the Indian home minister has a rather short memory. And surely nobody but India’s own media really bought the bit about teaching Pakistan a lesson with airstrikes, etc, a little over a year ago, when it was in fact the Indians that lost face, not to mention their two combat aircraft, when the two sides last confronted each other in the skies. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has done the right thing by rebutting Amit Shah’s claims and warning New Delhi that any misadventure on India’s part would cost it very dearly indeed. No doubt the Indians have been itching for revenge ever since they went back red-nosed after the Abhinandan incident last March, and make nonsensical claims hyped by their media to please their constituents, but it only betrays their frustration since this is all that they can do.
The foreign minister was also right to ask just why the Indian government, as well as their belligerent media, was so quiet about all that is going on in Laddakh. There’s a good reason that nobody is lobbing verbal bombs across the border into China, because Beijing has also made it clear that the days when it tolerated such noise from New Delhi are long gone. And the way the Chinese have moved some heavy machinery in the region, to rightly counter India’s own hardware and roads popping up there, has made the costs of pushing too far abundantly clear to India. It seems the Modi administration is once again at its wit’s end, and has nothing better to do then spew the usual venom on prime time TV. The only people it can muscle around are helpless Kashmiris in the occupied valley and minorities inside India, who are being subjected to the worst kind of treatment just to please Hindu hardliners that Modi and his kind rely on for votes and high office.
Pakistan has already demonstrated what it can do to teach India a lesson once we are pushed too far. That is exactly what happened when the Indian air force though it could violate Pakistan’s airspace and get away with it. Only the Indians, unfortunately, have chosen to forget what happened next. This time, it is making the terrible strategic blunder of offending two very strong allies at the same time, especially when it does not have the military capability to handle even one at a time. If Modi doesn’t deescalate soon, Indians might well regret giving him a second term.
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