Enforcement of SOPs
Once again the Punjab government was forced into a huddle to decide about the way forward, and once again it found itself paralysed. The indecision is understandable, since going back to the lockdown would simply ruin the economy and not doing so in light of the number of new infections as well as deaths would also not be right. Yet it’s not as if nothing is happening in all the time the government is taking in coming to a decision. And there’s a reason that the curve has gone up so sharply in the last fortnight or so. Wasn’t it about just two weeks ago that the lockdown was formally lifted, even though it was never really fully enforced to begin with, and wasn’t the impact of the decision going to become apparent around Eid?
Clearly the results are not good. And the number-one reason, quite frankly, is the inability of the federal as well as provincial governments to enforce necessary Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). For just as soon as the lockdown was relaxed, people just thronged to public places especially shopping markets, in complete defiance of all safety measures, as if mingling and mixing was in fact the cure for the pandemic. You could forgive the poorer sections out and about on the hunt for work and food, but what about the super-rich falling all over each other at luxury stores? The Punjab government could listen to all the restaurant owners and businesses in Murree and give the green light so their crucial seasonal earning is not missed, but who is going to help it police all the people in all the public places, telling them to stand and sit a few feet apart for their own benefit?
There’s no reason for Pakistan to be any different from any of the other countries facing the same situation. There, at least, governments can count on people to do the right thing. No government has the capacity or the manpower to monitor all its people, neither is it advisable considering that having more people on the ground would only increase the risk of the infection spreading even further. It is, therefore, up to the people at the end of the day to make this exercise a success or a failure. And, sadly, too many Pakistanis did not behave responsibly at all over the last few days. Perhaps the government should overcome all hesitation and first invest its energies in a vast awareness campaign. People must know just how seriously, like never before, whatever they do just as they leave their homes can make the difference between life and death not just for them but also for a lot of other people.
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