- Government must look at all measures
The government seemed to be treating the second wave of the covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to stop rallies by its political opponents, even though their Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rally was held in Peshawar despite the refusal. It has been noticed widely that the ban coincided with a massive gathering for the funeral of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan founder and chairman Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi, which was not only many times larger than anything recommended by epidemiologists, but at which no SOPs were observed whatsoever. It should note that even Sweden, which avoided any lockdown in the first wave last winter, is now running into trouble, with a record number of new infections, as well as a rising death rate. That attempt at achieving herd immunity has gone nowhere, there is no reason to believe that Pakistan would do any better.
While the government may be pleased at the luck of lower infection during the first wave, it should not be complacent that lightning will strike twice and that luck will be repeated. It should also not forget that the first wave was met by a lockdown, and though it was not particularly harsh, it would be perverse to argue that it had no role in limiting the infection. Therefore, the policy of so-called smart lockdowns, of imposing a lockdown only on a specific area where the infection rate exceeds a certain number, though particularly attractive politically, what with the PDM on the march, should be abandoned. Instead, the government should take much more stringent measures, and impose a stricter lockdown that lasts the winter. Schools, offices, markets, functions like weddings (and it be remembered that the season for them has just begun), should all be closed.
If the government could gain the public’s confidence in its handling of the pandemic, the PDM would have the wind taken out of its sails. The man in the tree wants to keep his livelihood going, and his children getting an education, but there would be no livelihood or education, unless those obtaining them were alive.