Putting lives at risk for money

Published: 04:24 PM, 6 May, 2021
Caption: File photo.
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Is life more valuable or money? 

Every sane person will say that life is more precious than anything else. 

While a living being can get countless chances to make as much money as one needs, no amount of money can bring a dead back to life. 

Since Covid-19 is taking more than 100 lives a day in Pakistan and is reaching even the areas that so far were free of the deadly contagion, the Punjab government has rightly decided to impose a lockdown across the province from May 8 to 16.

These are the days during which Eidul Fitr (possibly May 14) will also be celebrated and, before that, people will go for shopping. Since the lockdown will adversely affect the business interests of millions of those impatiently waiting for these days to sell their stuff, their representative organizations have strongly opposed the lockdown schedule. 

Some of them have called the lockdown plan as economic murder of the business community and threatened to not pay taxes to the government. Some have proposed that the lockdown should be imposed after Eid holidays.

They think that lockdown during these days will mean stocks arranged by businessmen and shopkeepers for Eid will remain unsold – and thus it will cause them huge financial losses. 

No doubt that it is the right conclusion of the situation. But the question is: what is the other option available to the government? 

Should the people be allowed to visit the shopping centres in their respective cities and areas and thus let the deadly virus spread? Should the death toll be allowed to go up and up just because of the threat given by traders’ organizations? 

According to official statistics so far, 18,537 people have lost their lives because of Covid-19 countrywide and their loss can only be appreciated by the bereaved families. Maybe a number of families lost their bread-earners and they will feel the pain for long. 

Those against the lockdown must bear in mind the situation in other countries and the way the pandemic has changed the world. People in all countries have to follow the SOPs because of which their businesses have been badly affected.

They should also realize that even in Holy Ka’aba the situation has changed a lot. Only a limited number of people are allowed to perform Umra – and that too with all SOPs under the watchful eyes of the security personnel. And 2021 will be the second time when performance of Hajj will be allowed only to a limited number of Saudi nationals. No foreigner will be able to perform this important religious obligation because of the Covid-19 threat.  

The traders and other opponents of the lockdown should not rule out the possibility of them getting infected because of their business activities during these days. And then they will realize how grave mistake had they made by following business-as- usual approach. 

Frankly speaking, it is easy for the government to give the people a free hand during these holidays and let them involve themselves in all kinds of activities. But then who will be responsible for the loss of life to be caused by Covid-19? The affected families alone. 

The business organizations should appreciate the gravity of the situation and stop opposing the lockdown. In the larger national interest they should direct their members to keep their businesses closed and strictly follow the SOPs. They should spend the time at homes.  

Once the situation returns to normal, they can keep their businesses open 24/7 and make as much money as they need. 

Their opposition to the lockdown in the present situation will only put people’s lives at risk.

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.