Pakistan's tepid response to COVID-19 crisis

Pakistan's tepid response to COVID-19 crisis

Agency News

Pakistan’s COVID-19 cases and the death toll has been rising rapidly with reports indicating deliberate under-reporting of numbers so as to avoid embarrassment to its all-weather friend China and the CPEC, which has been a major gateway for the virus. In this hour of calamity, Pakistan portrays a picture of a society led by a self-benefiting elite, composed of unruly masses and controlled by a Deep State with extremist jihadi ideology, who are looking to establish a firmer foothold once the pandemic starts to abate.

Mia Bloom, in her article published on April 3, quotes Al-Naba, ISIS’s weekly publication, highlighting ISIS intent to use COVID-19 as a tool to further Jihad. Medical staff at the forefront of Pakistan’s response to COVID-19 appeared to be demoralised due to non-availability of adequate PPEs, and there are media reports, of many doctors in Punjab and Balochistan having contracted the deadly virus.

In Sindh province, an upsurge in dead-on-arrival cases in various hospitals was seen, which is purportedly being done to grossly under-report the COVID-19 casualty count, according to a report in Dawn last week. Ilyas Khan of BBC quoted the Pakistan Medical Association which has roundly criticised the political elite and bureaucrats for hoarding N-95 masks while health officials face dire shortage. Police brutality towards protesting doctors over this issue has also been reported from many parts of Pakistan. The all-powerful Army also views COVID-19 as an opportunity in itself. Allah NizarBaloch of Balochistan Liberation Front quoting the example of Taftan Quarantine Centre, run by Pak Army, elaborated upon its designs to expand its occupation and stranglehold over Balochistan.

At the strategic level, the Pakistan Army has once again bestowed upon itself the honorific ‘saviour of the nation’. The Army, as the convener of the National Command and Operation Centre to oversee coordination between federal and provincial governments, is also indirectly tightening its grip on funding coming into Pakistan. Sinister designs of the ISI to further their terror agenda were revealed last week when attempts were made to sneak jihadis across the LoC. The radicalised narrative over the years has meant that there is significant violation of orders that curtail offering prayers at mosques, as was seen last Friday.

Xenophobic tendencies of the Pakistani state are also encouraging jihadis, working under the garb of NGOs.(UNI)