More often than not, a crisis such as a pandemic outbreak reveals two essential characters of a leader: one is the ability to tackle challenges and the other is to benefit from opportunities. In the wake of this recent COVID-19 lockdown, the national and international leadership is failing to adopt the abovementioned characters. As a result of massive international unrest, leaders and respective governments are applying different tactics to divert the attention of citizens, and a lack of coordination is witnessed amongst their ranks.
In the case of Pakistan, the leadership from the beginning has generally failed to achieve consensus on broader national and international issues, and the recent coronavirus issue is no different. The conflicting policies regarding coronavirus lockdown devised from the center and federating units are causing confusion. Both federal and provincial governments are busy at work to define a proper (curfew-like) strategy and then finally coming to a smart lockdown. The question here is simple: how will this smart lockdown be implemented and sustained? It is a matter of common sense that putting the word “smart” before any verb or noun does not make it smart without a proper strategy and policy.
Therefore, in order to fight this common enemy unanimity is required. Governments have to co-operate and deal with this COVID-19 situation including discussing its risks, solutions, and post-COVID-19 strategies as well. However, in reality both Federal and Provincial governments have shifted their focus on discussing the scope of the 18th amendment.
Nevertheless, the curve of patients and deaths have yet not exacerbated as compared to other countries despite the government’s failure to reach a consensus. But in case this curve takes a trajectory turn, the weak health care infrastructure in Pakistan do not have the capacity to cope with its dire consequences. Our hospitals do not have enough ventilators, beds, medical and paramedical staff to meet the requirements, potentially resulting in complete catastrophe.
A number of conspiracy theories regarding COVID-19 are circulating everywhere. Everyone has their own version regarding the impact of this crisis. Even the United States, being the world’s superpower, blatantly blames China for not failing to provide them with awareness regarding the seriousness of the issue. In order words, the United States seems to imply that this might have been prepared as a ‘biological weapon’, covid19’ in Wuhan’s laboratory. However, the deaths of Chinese nationals across the world are contradicting this implication. On the other hand, China has accused the US Army of being involved in bringing this virus to Wuhan.
India, on one side, is scapegoating covid19 on Muslims as always. The Indian government has been accused of breaking every record of cruelty and violation of human rights. Pakistan, on the other side, is also in the race and Pakistani government is confused about whether to focus on a strict lockdown or to provide people with economic opportunities. This is something that was witnessed when the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced multiple incentives for the real estate sector of the country. Furthermore, daily wagers were also employed to plant trees throughout the country as a part of the government plan to plant millions of trees in Pakistan. This was a positive move by the Pakistani administration amidst a crisis, and Pakistan seems to possess better leadership as compared to India.
However, the threat is far more serious than it seems. A top-secret agency of the United States, after conduction proper research, stated that covid19 is ‘not a man-made or genetically modified’ disease. This is just the tip of the iceberg as conspiracy theories are creating panic among masses. But in reality, conspiracy theories are really good for drawing room discussions or debates in reality they defy logic. Clarity of things based on facts is essential, confusion in thoughts based on assumption is fatal.
Ongoing tensions between Iran and the US is also not any different. Previously, Donald Trump had walked out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement between the US and Iran, Donald trump withdraw the JCPOA in May 2018. But recently, the POTUS is now threatening to attack Iran in the middle of this corona outbreak. According to experts, this seems to be nothing more than another diversion tactic that is considered to pitiful by countries across the world.
Thus, actions to deal with this situation at the global level and at the local level, both – are insufficient and not at a satisfactory level. All of these facts suggest that Pakistan is not the only country where leadership is apparently mediocre, and non-governmental organizations (national and international) and philanthropists are helping humankind to cope with the crisis. Such organizations are distributing ration bags with food and supplies among the needy. They are also providing different facilities like providing pamphlets to masses for creating awareness. They also established disinfecting chambers at different entries. The efforts are a spectacular win in these desperate times.
Lastly, we can conclude by considering this as a high time that demands consensus among leaders across the world in order to defeat the exponential growth of this unseen enemy. It has become crucial for leaders to be responsible, to think of sensible strategies, and show good governance. We should consider this challenge as a heaven-sent respite for us to work together for promoting peace and learning to work hand-in-hand. Being a silent spectator will do us more harm than good. Lack of leadership is a major issue that demands more attention but the response to it remains poor.
Whether a vaccine will be found or not, remains moot till now. In the meantime, governments need to utilize all of their resources and energies on building infrastructure. The research sector needs to involve artificial intelligence for tracking and testing of coronavirus and for creating awareness etc. At this crucial time when people are building walls and closing down borders, hope is the only option we are left with. Two plus two will always be four until hope makes it five. So, let’s hope for competent and collaborative leadership to come into play because if not now, then When?