Prime Minister Imran Khan stressed that there was no confusion at all in his government about how to handle the coronavirus threat, despite all the criticism from the opposition and the press, and even claimed that his was the only government in the whole world that was not confused at all about the problem. Yet even as he delivered these comments during the parliamentary budget session the Punjab government was imposing sudden and selective lockdowns which left the people, at least, pretty confused. The only information that people really had about what the provincial government was going to do in Lahore, that too at just a few hours’ notice, was that a few localities were going to be closed down for a few days. Nobody knew just how strict the lockdown was going to be. Once again, like the government’s previous attempts to control the spread of the coronavirus, people panicked because of the government’s policies and rushed to stores to stock up.
Also, because of the sudden announcement, a lot of people are unable to make important decisions about work and handling their homes. This pretty much shows that the prime minister could well be right, and there is no confusion in his government, but how does that look when his polices leave the people pretty bewildered? And while it’s normally a very good thing that a government is not confused about a very important policy, it’s quite another when said policy is dragging the whole country in the wrong direction. The claim about being the only government that always had the correct narrative also flies in the face of simple facts like the World Health Organisation (WHO), among others, warning about the sharply rising number of cases in Pakistan and also that we have now replaced Mexico to become the country with the 13th worst number of cases in the world.
A little also needs to be said about examples of other places, like New York, New Zealand and Singapore, that might have been more than a little off the mark. True, all counties are now in favour of relaxing lockdowns but only after being in favour of implementing them in the initial stages. And almost all countries except Pakistan reopened only when the graph of new cases was flattening, not steepening. Since facts so openly contradict the government’s claims at this point, it would not be going too far to fear that the ruling party might be in denial about how its handling of the most important problem confronting the country is turning out. Regrettably, it does not seem that the government is in any mood to accept that it might need to correct its course of action