Govt paints grim picture of situation ahead – but takes no emergency measures

Published: 03:38 PM, 4 May, 2020
Govt paints grim picture of situation ahead – but takes no emergency measures
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National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19 met in Islamabad on Sunday after which Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar, while briefing the media, painted a very grim picture of the prevailing situation and the days and weeks ahead.

He said the pandemic could result in the closure of up to one million institutions, rendering 18 million people jobless and pushing up to 70 million others below the poverty line in Pakistan.

The minister said compared to March, there was a shortfall of Rs 119 billion in FBR revenues in April.

These are only few statistics which will keep changing with the passage of time. But the minister did not say what measures has the government taken or intends to take in the near future to minimize the losses/damage which should be the real target in the prevailing situation.

The closure of one million institutions and the resultant joblessness of 18 million means complete destruction of the economy, which is already going on because of huge foreign loans. This is nothing short of an emergency situation calling for emergency steps to deal with it.

But, unfortunately, the government and the opposition are not cooperating with each other even in the prevailing calamitous situation, when they should have joined hands, forgetting their petty political interests.

It has been observed that Prime Minister Imran Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, is not realizing that he is an inexperienced leader and his ministers holding important portfolios are also novices – their personal claims about their past achievements, notwithstanding.

Such a team needs cooperation from all opposition parties to save the people from the yawning future problems and to curtail the longevity of the tragedy.

It’s nobody’s ego problem.

If the two sides cooperate, the relief efforts would get new impetus.

But there is little effort on this front.

It’s hard to understand how the PTI’s bigwigs will be able to grapple with the fast-worsening situation.

Prudence demands that an urgent session of the parliament should be called to have a moment-to-moment assessment of the situation and take immediate steps needed to control it.

But the so-called elected leaders on both sides of the aisle are not rising above their personal egos.

Speaker Asad Qaiser, who is a corona victim along with some other family members, hinted at calling a virtual session of the National assembly. For such a session the members don’t have to be physically present in the house. They just take part in the proceedings through video link.

But honourable leaders of the PML-N rejected the idea, saying they want a physical session, a precondition which will further delay the already much- delayed session.

The PPP, which is the second biggest opposition party, has its own disputes with the federal government. It is consistently alleging that the Centre is not cooperating with the Sindh government as a result of which many problems remain unaddressed.

Overwhelmed by their anger, even senior PPP leaders use such a language against the prime minister which is not civilized, to say the least.

The ruling party and the opposition are, therefore, poles apart and there is hardly any possibility of cooperation between the two sides.

The government recently floated the idea of bringing some changes to the 18th constitutional amendment to empower the local governments. It was being speculated that now the government would soften its policy towards opposition as any constitutional amendment would not be possible with opposition’s cooperation.

(The PTI has only a majority of few seats in the National Assembly and is in minority in the Senate. An amendment to the constitution needs a two-thirds majority in the bicameral legislature).

The nation is monitoring what their leaders are doing for them in the ongoing testing times.

Any party that failed to share problems of their voters would have to pay a heavy price in the next elections.

Categories : Opinion
Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.