A welcome ‘casualty’ of coronavirus pandemic

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 06:18 PM, 22 Mar, 2020
A welcome ‘casualty’ of coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus, which is sort of a calamity for the world, has brought about a positive change in the attitude of the otherwise intolerant and disunited political parties of Pakistan.

As the death toll and the number of suspects is going up, the political temperature is going down and the arch-rivals are making conciliatory statements the like of which were unthinkable so far.

This positivity would certainly be appreciated by people as this is what is required for the solution of their multiple problems.

A sea change has been witnessed in the attitude of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

Until recently, he used to brand Imran Khan as ‘selected’ prime minister, meaning thereby that he is not the product of the legitimate electoral process. But now not only he recognizes him as the country’s chief executive but has also assured him his party’s full support required to deal with the calamitous situation.

He is for a full lockdown and holding of a multi-party conference to devise the future course of action.

At a recent news conference, he refused to criticize the prime minister despite provocative questions by journalists, a manifestation of his political maturity.

His party’s government in Sindh that was daggers drawn at the Centre until recently has now offered full cooperation to Islamabad, which is a welcome change.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif has returned to Pakistan after a four-month stay in London in connection with the treatment of his elder brother, a three-time former prime minister who at present is waiting for an appointment with his doctor for further treatment.

From London, the Junior Sharif has been making various statements about the situation in Pakistan and giving suggestions on how to deal with the pandemic. But back home, it’s time for him to pull up sleeves and do what he wanted the government to.

In a video message before his departure, Shehbaz said coronavirus has wreaked havoc in Pakistan and around the world. He said he was staying in London for his brother’s scheduled heart intervention but upon hearing about the government’s decision to suspend international flights, he had sought his elder brother’s advice.

Shehbaz said he decided to return after Nawaz advised him to go to Pakistan. “Being a Pakistani, leader of the opposition and a political figure, it is my duty to return to the country,” he added.

A very positive change has been witnessed in the tone of Khwaja Saad Rafiq, a known PML-N hardliner, who has just been released on the Supreme Court’s orders after about a year’s detention in NAB custody.

Saad proposes convening of an all-party conference to discuss a strategy to come out of the disastrous situation, which is worsening with the passage of time.

Political observers are of the view that although the APC may be a good platform, the parliament is even better as elected representatives know the situation better in their respective constituencies and measures needs to be taken in a particular situation.

His party, the PML-N, is already among the signatories to a requisition for a session of the National Assembly. Although efforts are being made to take back the requisition, it would be better to give up those efforts.

The change in the attitude of JUI Emir Maulana Fazlur Rehman is enormous, unbelievable.

A man who a few months ago had organized a long march from Karachi to Islamabad and then staged weeks of sit-in in the federal capital to seek the ouster of the PTI government, and was bracing up for a second round to achieve the same target, has now suspended all activities of his party because of corona attack.

He has now offered all-out support to the same (illegitimate) government to handle the situation. He has been quoted as saying that 40,000 volunteers of his party are ready to join hands with the government.

The Jamaat-i-Islami, which is neither with the ruling coalition nor the opposition, wants the government to take all political forces along.

JI chief Senator Sirajul Haq has also contacted PPP Chairman Bilawal, an initiative reflective of a drastic change in the former’s mindset. 

All these are signs of the political leaders’ responsiveness to the aggravating situation. It manifests beyond doubt that they have the ability to reprioritize things according to the requirements of the unfolding crisis.

On the other hand, the army is also playing its role in the field. It is there to carry out the government instructions.

And when the civil and military leaderships are together, no crisis is difficult for them to deal with.

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