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Pakistan never took the coronavirus seriously: analyst

PTI leader says PM was on his toes since beginning

SAMAA | - Posted: May 11, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 year ago
Posted: May 11, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 year ago

Anchor Ehtisham Amiruddin, Saleem Bukhari,Ali Muhammad Khan and Saeed Qazi. Photo: SAMAA Digital

One of our gravest mistakes during the coronavirus pandemic was not regulating the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Raiwind and leaving the Pakistan-Iran Taftan border open, said analyst Saleem Bukhari.

Pakistan has reported more than 30,400 COVID-19 infections and medical experts have warned of an exponential rise in the number of cases in June.

“We never took the coronavirus seriously,” the analyst told SAMAA TV anchor Ehtisham Amiruddin. “I’m not saying proceedings should’ve been halted [at Raiwind and the Taftan border] but things could’ve been handed systematically so that the people who went back home from there didn’t infect the people they mingled with.”

Pakistan was under lockdown for more than a month, but Bukhari believed it wasn’t of much use. As of May 11, the country-wide lockdown has been lifted and numerous businesses are resuming operations.

Bukhari was of the view that a lockdown for merely 14 days where complete suspension of business and activities was in place, followed by proper regulation by authorities would have been enough. During these 14 days, virus hotspots could have been identified, he said.

Bukhari told the anchor to go out in the city and see how throngs of people were gathering in shops without wearing masks or maintaining a safe distance.

Sindh was where we saw a complete lockdown for a few days but even that was undone, Bukhari added.

His fellow analyst Saeed Qazi said one hopes for such regulations when there is proper infrastructure. You have to know where each individual lives and where all small or big-scale markets are located, he said.

An aggressive Qazi also took on the ruling class. “Koi Maai ka Laal Lahore ki kachi abadiyon aur Karachi ke Sohrab Goth mai lockdown kerke dikhade [No one can impose a lockdown in Lahore’s shanty towns and Sohrab Goth in Karachi],” he said.

The analyst believed the coronavirus has exposed the ruling elite: how they’ve fed off corruption and taxpayers’ money since the 1970s instead of laying foundation for an appropriate structure.

PTI’s Ali Muhammad Khan mostly agreed with Qazi but not with Bukhari. He felt a complete lockdown meant depriving the poor of money.

“I’ve been working in a ration-distribution programme in my region for a month and I saw how people are affected due to the suspension of businesses,” said Ali.

He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan had been wary of COVID-19 since its outbreak in China and also discussed it in a federal meeting that took place around two and a half months back.

Regardless, the politician confessed that the authorities could have worked more efficiently to stem the novel virus’ spread across the country.

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