Pakistan: PM Imran Khan’s ‘Smart Lockdown’ Decision Is Either Based On Emotions Or Facts – OpEd


The decisions that are made on facts and figures rather than on emotions prove to bee right decisions. It is also the requirement of rationality that states should make decisions and actions based on the process of cost-benefit analysis, done through rationality. The history of the world is evident that the decisions made on emotions by states while ignoring the facts and figures always faced the losses and worsening conditions.

As for the decision of PM Imran Khan about Covid-19 is concerned, he has allowed some industrial and commercial activities to begin throughout the country. Similarly, Planning and Development Minister of Pakistan, Asad Umar, explained that “Isolating these cases and their contacts will improve our ability to contain the disease alongside allowing the economy to function and people to get employment.” Besides, Umar on May 3, 2020 said because of lockdown 18 million people could lose their jobs.

Moreover, during a press briefing at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19, he further explained that “According to the calculations of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), between 20 million and 70 million people in the country might fall below the poverty line.” PM Imran Khan Government has the view that if it is not going to ease the lockdown, then people will die of hunger and poverty.

While on the other side, the Sindh government does not keep similar views with the policies of the Federal government concerning Covid-19 and ease in lockdown. Moreover, the Sindh government wants complete lockdown rather a partial or smart lockdown. It has the view that the priority of the government should be saving the lives of the people. Because the Chief Minister of Sindh, Murad Ali Shah, said that the death of the economy is revivable through hard work and struggle, but dead people could not be made alive. Therefore the priority of government should be saving the lives instead of keeping the economy.

Besides, Sindh Minister for Information, Nasir Shah said that, “according to the medical experts, the month of May was perilous for Pakistan concerning the spread of Coronavirus; therefore, lockdown should further be tightened in this month.” He further explained that “the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) had also warned all the countries that if they did not opt for more effective lockdown in their respective countries. The Coronavirus would spread so fast that it would be impossible to control it.”

About the fast increase in Covid-19 cases and staggering situation all over the country, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) doctors have warned of severe consequences if a complete lockdown not imposed. Besides, secretary-general of PMA, Qaiser Sajjad said: “Allowing the mass gatherings at mosques or markets may lead to an unmanageable situation as the country’s weak health system is already overburdened.” Pakistan’s premier, Imran Khan in his speeches and statements repeatedly tells the people of Pakistan that don’t compare economically weak Pakistan with developed Western countries.

While in his press conference on May 7, 2020, he started by quoting the example of Western nations. He further explained that most of the countries of the world are going to ease the coronavirus lockdown such as Germany, Italy, France, US and the United Kingdom. When it comes to making his actions and policies reliable by referring examples, he quotes the standards of Western nations. While when PM Imran Khan wants to oppose the policies of the Sindh government, then he doesn’t compare Pakistan with developed Western countries. He wrongly quoted the example of Western nations concerning the ease in lockdown. Because about the states, he quoted, see the decrease in Coronavirus cases that’s why they go for this decision of easing lockdown. It shows the contradictions in his policies and actions as said by Bilawal Bhutto, Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), that PM Imran Khan is confused in his plans.

While the current statistics of Covid-19 cases in Pakistan experiences the record increase, in this regard, previous ten days data about the Coronavirus cases within the country shows that cases have almost doubled as compared to the facts since the outbreak of pandemic in the country. Furthermore, PM Imran Khan during his press conference, told that he was expecting from people to comply with rules and follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) as insured by German people to Chancellor Angela Markel. But he forgets or ignores the difference of literacy rate and sense of responsibility between the people of Germany and Pakistan. Media news and reports show that after the opening of markets throughout the country, people were not following the social distancing rules and advice of wearing masks.

Moreover, a vast crowd was seen in markets for Eid shopping without taking preventive measures. In this regard, the Sindh government has already informed and warned about the fast spread of Coronavirus cases. Decisions of PM Imran Khan from the beginning of pandemic portrays that his choices have based on emotions rather than looking over the facts and figures.

*The writer is PhD scholar in the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, Pakistan.

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