Nisar A. Memon
13-April- 2020 – Pakistan Observer
COVID-19 is rebooting the global systems. At this critical juncture, we needed a united national front to fight this war. However, the leadership in charge of the country is sending confused signals. Let’s see how. The federal government did not recognize S i n d h government initiative of lockdown, and gave lukewarm support to Baluchistan on Iranian border – a major entry point of virus in the country. While Islamabad was in denial mode for lockdown, its Punjab and KPK governments followed Sindh in lockdown but late with enfeeble enforcement and now going with partial lockdown. Lastly, it engaged in creating its party marketing brand of ‘Tigers Relief Force’ instead of consolidating local governments through provincial administration for food distribution to needy. Suffice to say, the holders of highest state offices appear in disarray, dissipating national energies with impact on security and sovereignty of our motherland.
The government’s inability to handle wheat and sugar crises well in time and using it now to divert the nation from COVID-19, belie their claims of national interest to fight this pandemic to save people. Citizens of all shades of opinion are openly expressing their disappointment while comparing responses to Earthquake in 2005. Why so? Is it the quality of leadership compared to past; or the leadership has succumbed to be corrupted by prejudices, bias, hatred, narrow mindedness and immaturity in statecraft; or blinded by power and unable to clearly see the dangers of disunity with virus affecting their minds; or they are pursuing personal and not national goals; or worst, has some hidden agenda. As a lot is being talked about it we leave it to history to give its judgement.
The crisis of leadership is now, with its consequences on our future generation, therefore it is prudent to fight all inimical forces as ONE by rebooting the minds. This should abet fight against COVID-19 as well as corruption, ignorance, illiteracy, poverty, colonial behaviors; all in the interest of our security and sovereignty. Post COVID-19; workers and industrialists should reset their minds with workers producing the best and industrialists providing workers fair compensation, welfare, safety and human rights. The peasants, office workers, house workers, mining workers, technicians, officers, management as well as investors must all reboot their minds to serve the country in best possible way. The political parties with their policies and programs, government by executing national programs and policies, judiciary in providing inexpensive justice in accordance with law and constitution, and media continuing courageous impartial reporting and analysis to identify deviations.
All who carry ultimate responsibility of governance system will do well to reboot the system as a whole. The military is committed to defend the country against all aggression and support civil authority when called in under the Constitution. On the other hand the political soldiers – the karkun of the political parties are duty bond to serve the people, through political system, uphold party principles and support leadership while ensuring reboot takes place for national unity in times of national emergencies like the present one. Any delay in the entire chain for national unity by not rebooting can be expensive for the country and must attract accountability.
In the past, the political parties have united when needed and very recently the political parties, including the current coalition parties in government could unite while passing the Army (Amendment) Act, 2020 but unfortunately the obdurate leadership is not uniting against the pandemic. It tells us a lot! They talk of uniting against NAB but not in protecting today’s saviors – the doctors, paramedics and health workers who are fighting this war without weapons of personal protective equipment, with the result some have succumbed in performance of sacred duty.
To add salt to the injury, some vested interests are creating contempt against politics and politicians by creating the perception that politics is a dirty profession. To those who spread this hatred, one question: who was Jinnah and how this country was created? An answer to this question alone is enough for them to silence their guns.
The reboot to a governance model with UNITY amongst all political parties across the federation will save lives of our people and the leadership emerging victorious. The current governance style is based on creating news each day to occupy the media space unleashing government propaganda. Even for news not worth a press briefing, a team of cabinet ministers appear together at Press Information Department to consume their and citizens time, just to occupy media space. In addition, each day nation is told of impending announcements, an old tactic to keep people on the hold. If confused signals of leadership continue, judicial role in governance is bound to deepen at the cost of executive authority. Whether current situation is eyed with the prism of public health or economy, we must face it as ONE.
Keeping eyes wide shut by not uniting to face real national challenges, is harmful to country and the people they have pledged to serve, save and protect. Quran teaches us to be united in the face of danger in Surah Al-i’Imran verse 103, I quote: ‘And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you w ere on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.’
—Nisar A. Memon; former federal minister & senator