VIEW: Live and let die —Andleeb Abbas
The IQ level of the federal government and provincial government is highly competitive. While the federal government is thinking of going back to two days off in offices to solve the energy crisis, the Punjab government is going to the10 day closure experiment to exorcise the demon of dengue
As our president gets a clean bill of health by an exclusive hospital in London, the country gets a foul bill of health and security by both natural and man-made disasters. It seems the price of keeping our leaders healthy and luxurious is paid by millions of people losing their houses and livelihood and thousands losing their health and lives. With the venomous dengue becoming a genie out of the bottle in Punjab, the menacing waters in Sindh are drowning roads, houses, cattle and people as the government authorities — as usual — make laughable statements of doing all they can to help the affected. Each time we think it cannot get worse, it does.
For an ordinary citizen the fear factor is the only factor in abundance these days. The fear of being blown up by a bomb; the fear of being kidnapped; the fear of becoming a victim of target killing; the fear of being bitten by a dengue mosquito; the fear of being marooned in overflowing roads; the fear of being submerged in uncontrollable waters, etc. Such fears have dominated the thought process of an ordinary Pakistani so much that to expect them to think ahead is almost impossible, which is precisely what the government wants. If the public is fighting a battle of survival day in and day out, how are they supposed to have the courage to rise against the sheer callousness of a government that seems to take pride in depressing every ounce of hope that people may mistakenly wish for?
While the federal government acts as a biased third umpire, the competition for the most ludicrous manager is on between the provinces of Sindh and Punjab. Punjab, having been gleefully critical of the Karachi carnage, is shaken up by the extent and scale of mosquitoes gone haywire. The sight of a mosquito in Lahore is like a cobra for people these days. Having underestimated the danger of this disease, the government had issued typical copy-paste instructions of ordering sprays in open areas to stop the growth of dengue carriers. However, the typical story of fraudulent sprays, non-functioning machines and indifferent area coverage has put paid to the claims of the Khadim-e-Aala. The kneejerk response of the chief minister is typical and comical. He goes around in some hospitals and government agencies, catches hold of the least important official there and suspends him. Then he gives these emotional speeches promising heaven, followed by some media stunts to show his concern and resolve. The next few days we see him hurrying and scurrying up and down hospitals and ordering awareness campaigns worth billions. However, after all this unproductive busyness the disease multiplies to the scale of an epidemic. Hospitals are overloaded, mosquito coils are black-marketed and Mospel has become as dear and as scarce as the Kohinoor diamond; all this while the Khadim-e-Aala is seen joining college students to distribute pamphlets to passerby cars on a road. How noble and humble! This is what he would like people to say about him but the real comments are how silly and immature a politician can become in his desperation to hide his incompetence and ignorance.
While the Sindh government was gloating over controlling of target killings and happy over the failure of the Punjab government to control dengue, rainfall washed away any hope of the province having a moment of peace and happiness. With last year’s floods still fresh in the land of humidity, torrential rainfall paralysed the whole of Sindh. If ever you wanted to know the incapacity of a main metro city of a country to absorb something as trivial as a normal downpour, you just had to go on the roads of Karachi to see water trapped on the main boulevards of the commercial hub of Pakistan. With Karachi and Hyderabad submerged under water that has nowhere to go but into the houses, Badin and Nawabshah have almost a tsunami-like look with over five million people running for their lives as government emergency measures remain just a topic on the breaking news. As the menfolk go overseas for their autumn check-up and siesta, the womenfolk quickly get a chance of appearing on prime time talk shows. Faryal Talpur and Dr Fehmida Riaz quickly seized this opportunity of airtime space by ‘showing’ deep concern for the underprivileged as they are ‘seen’ going to house to house in the affected areas in an attempt to provide relief goods to the unrelieved. Such fake publicity actually earns them negative points as the public, immediately after their departure, is so full of recriminations that the other media channels catch hold of these views and air them repeatedly to expose the fickleness of the attempts of our higher-ups to create false impressions of care and concern.
Without a clue on how to deal with crisis and disaster management, the government has resorted to some ‘genius’ solutions to the problem. The Punjab government has asked Sri Lanka to send a delegation for dengue treatment, thus admitting the massive misappropriation of the hitherto fumigation attempts. Fearful of dengue becoming an epidemic of historic proportions they have ordered the closure of schools for 10 days. Mind you, these schools barely opened after three months of summer holidays. If this house arrest initiative works, maybe they should order closure till all dengue mosquitoes become bored with their routine and die their natural death. The IQ level of the federal government and provincial government is highly competitive. While the federal government is thinking of going back to two days off in offices to solve the energy crisis, the Punjab government is going to the10 day closure experiment to exorcise the demon of dengue by calling in exorcists from Sri Lanka.
When the immunity and the defences of a country are low, all types of viruses attack it. With the economic immunity at a negative level, drone attacks have persisted despite a parliamentary ban on them; with the law and order immunity at zero, gangs in Karachi have infected the security of Karachi fatally; the floods in Sindh and the dengue virus and many other such disasters will only be preventable if the people of this country develop a united defence against leaders who are infected with deep-rooted corruption and incompetence.
The writer is a consultant and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org