By Karim Muhammad Khan
The Covid-19 pandemic has now engulfed the entire world like an octopus and hasn’t spared any faith, colour, nationality as well as the rich and the poor across the globe. It is said to be the greatest challenge confronting humanity after 2nd world war in 1939-45. Village elders also narrated that they had not experienced such a dreadful situation in their life time and didn’t heard from their parents and even grandparents owing to which roads and streets are empty from people and vehicles; prolonged closure of educational institutions; places of worship and shrines looks deserted to halt the virus from spreading.
Whereas, the technologically advanced nations never thought of the ruthlessness of the Covid-19 pandemic upon their well off populace as they were feeling pride of its highly sophisticated technologies and state of the art health care system in the world. But, despite of having the 4th generation industrial technology their governments now seem to be helpless to protect their citizens from the wrath of the virus which is infecting and claiming precious lives of their citizens beyond imagination.
Nonetheless, the covid-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for the rulers of developed countries particularly the USA to revisit their belligerent and hegemonic policies rather they should bridge the polarization among nations by assisting them to fight against hunger, poverty, illiteracy, pandemics, lethal non-communicable diseases; natural disasters; environmental catastrophes, climate change and global warming.
As far as the Covid-19 pandemic and the South Asian Region is concerned, huge segment of their population are already living below the poverty line particularly in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Half of their populations are deprived of basic amenities i.e. nutritious food; safe drinking water; proper shelter; basic health care facility; quality education and employment opportunities. In addition, corruption, street crimes, terrorism and child abduction and harassment are also causing more troubles to the already poverty stricken citizens of the region.
Moreover, the two nuclear states of Pakistan and India have fought four wars in the past and always remain in a state of hostile mode with each other. Trillions of amounts have been spent on developing weapons of mass destruction instead of uplifting the socio-economic conditions of the disadvantaged segment of the society as they are the most vulnerable to such crisis.
The Covid-19 pandemic is an eye opener for the rulers of Pakistan and India to set aside its differences and pay full attention on the socio-economic well being of their citizens by diverting their major chunk of budget from defense to poverty alleviation, provision of standardized health care facilities; access to quality education; creating job opportunities, exercising good governance, eliminating corruptions and other crimes from their society.
For the time being, the pandemic has awakened and activated the rulers, politicians, civil servants and the military establishment in Pakistan to mobilize human, material and financial resources on war footings. But sadly this type of behavior is reactive one and short lived by nature as it responds when natural calamities strike. Would that our rulers and politicians realize sense of responsibilities during peaceful time and keep serving the nation in general and the underprivileged segments of the society in particular.
Similarly, the country men also demonstrate loyalty and get united for giving charity and offering other volunteer services during emergency time but unfortunately as soon as the crisis is over the level of loyalty with the homeland and its citizens goes down and routine chronicle issues in all affairs of life begin to surface in which the deprived and middle classes of the society bear the brunt.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic will sooner or later be part of history but rulers, politicians; civil society; bureaucrats, military establishments and other stakeholders should not forget the bitter reality of this crisis. They all need to get united for a national cause by setting aside of party affiliation and other differences while addressing multiples challenges such as poor health care system; economic crisis; illiteracy and social ills from the society. Being proactive is vital for the entire nation in responding any mishap in the country effectively.
Moreover, to minimize the reliance on western medical science, technology and other assistance, it is important for Pakistan to produce not only world level excellent scientists and medical professionals but also need to be engaged them in various laboratory and field researches in order to develop essential medical equipment; effective immunizations system; discovering innovative ways of treatment and creating preventive measures from various deadly diseases across the country.
Finally, hospitals and primary health care units should be upgraded and equipped with human, material and financial resources in urban as well as in rural context to have easily access for the poor and middle classes of the society. Lastly, to ensure transparent usage of resources; maintaining good health and hygiene system and provision of better services to patients in all hospital and health care centers in the country, a comprehensive mechanism of check and balance must be in place.