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Daily Times Editorial 4 June 2020

Federal government finally waking up?


It seems the federal government is finally waking up to the fact that new coronavirus cases, and indeed the number of deaths, is rising simply too fast for the so called limited lockdown to continue without some modifications. It was precisely this scenario that the government was warned against initially when it talked down the necessity of a nationwide quarantine at every opportunity. The prime minister did not listen to anybody at the time, but the argument that stricter measures would be taken if the number of new cases rose very sharply was self-defeating. That is because diluting the lockdown so early actually created the situation where new cases are now coming in at quite an alarming rate.
Yet even now the measures being considered are not going to do the job. According to news reports, the first step of the new, more serious, approach will be telling people to follow SOPs (standard operating procedures) more seriously. But wasn’t that already being done all along? And has the government not seen the results so far? People have simply refused to follow any manner of social distancing. Therefore it is no surprise that the virus is spreading like it is. The reports also say that stricter measures would be employed if people do not take the advice seriously, without explaining what those measures are going to be. Since this is a truly global problem, and literally all sorts of solutions have been tried and lockdown has been found the most effective by far, there’s only so many steps the government can really consider when it does have to take harder decisions. And if it is forced to go for a complete shut down one more time, aren’t the daily wagers because of whom the PM was apparently so dead against the lockdown going to suffer to no end anyway?
Unfortunately, this crisis has exposed a lack of leadership in the federal government. First it stayed indecisive for far too long as the virus spread all around our neighbouring countries. Then, when it finally came here, the matter was not handled with any sort of seriousness. Most senior officials, especially the prime minister himself, did not seem to think that it would present much of a problem to us even though it was already causing nightmares in many parts of the world. And even when the whole world was locking down, the Pakistani PM did not appreciate such measures at all and thought they were forced on the people by the elite; whatever that meant. The government must finally appreciate the real magnitude of the problem, and the futility of its initial approach.


Mayhem in America


Images of large crowds of people, sometimes marching peacefully, sometimes ransacking shops, are the last thing one would expect to see coming out of America. Yet the situation since a police officer killed a black citizen by applying unnecessary force has simply spiraled out of control and refuses to die down, even with the National Guard called into more than forty cities. And President Trump only seems to make things worse every time he comes up with a solution, which is whey even police chiefs from different states are calling on him to stay silent, though not in such polite terms, if he has got nothing good to say about the matter. The president’s latest outburst, that he would call in the military if the looting didn’t stop, has only served to spread the violence even further.
At the heart of the matter is the refusal of authorities in Minneapolis to charge all the officers at the scene with murder. As a speaker at a public gathering put it, these protests would go away if justice is seen to be served. Yet the thought that the government would rather call in the military, which would risk many more deaths no doubt, than hold the police officers accountable is not being digested by the people quite like the authorities expected. Now the president is reduced to desperate symbolism, like standing in front of a church and holding a bible, because it would embarrass him to step down from his high pedestal. But the American people, especially the black community, seems to have had enough as well, so the confrontation seems set to worsen for all intents and purposes.
Surprisingly, all this has not sent financial markets into a tailspin just yet. But that shouldn’t hide the fact that a fall is just around the corner if the situation does not normalise very soon. So far the rest of the world has been watching with horror as the US government appears to only add further fuel to the fire. Once again, then, the Trump administration has embarrassed itself by such disregard for the duties and responsibilities that come with being the leader of the free world. It seems we are really living in times when the sole superpower begins the long process of disintegration and falling all over itself.
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