Gen.(Rtd) Tariq Khan

This is what is doing the rounds. It is an attempt to create a social divide in an already divided country. Everyone knows that the bulk of the virus infection was brought in through Taftan. These are those zealous people who were living parts of the Ziarat. They comprised the uneducated, the lower class and most ignorant of all people, so why give this phenomenon such a twist?

“Social distancing is a privilege. It means you live in a house large enough to practise it. Hand washing is a privilege too. It means you have access to running water. Hand sanitisers are a privilege. It means you have money to buy them. Lockdowns are a privilege. It means you can afford to be at home. 

Most of the ways to ward the Corona off are accessible only to the affluent. 

The world is caught up in the wonder of the Corona Virus – the dreaded COVID 19. Whole societies have been affected, nations subdued, communities locked in. The Globe in all its intellectual manifestation, technologies and wisdom is trying to come up with an explanation as to what is the character and nature of this hazard and how it should respond to it. However, as yet the solution to this dilemma alludes all. 

In circumstances such as these, conspiracies galore have been broadcasted, the charlatans are out in droves misleading people with rumours and innuendoes, politics at its worst are being played out in every country, religious contradictions, social ambiguities – all this while humanity is torn apart by what it has no understanding of. For those who are agnostic, it is nature that challenges their logic and reason; for those who have a religion, their God shows them how frail mankind is even when he swaggers in the superiority of his own self and being.

Man is not only the host of this virus but he is responsible for its evolution. He now spreads it across nations and borders and has proven to be one of the biggest threats to life on earth in more ways than just this virus.

On the other hand, as economies collapse the world over, we in Pakistan who have very little left to collapse are benefiting from an unprecedented fall in oil prices. Loans are being restructured or rescheduled which is another big bonus. 

Lessons of cleanliness and discipline are being driven home.  The FATF appears so distant, the IMF so irrelevant at present. I have begun to think that maybe this virus is not too bad a thing for us here in Pakistan. I have suddenly found myself in this world, an equal amongst equals; instead of a child of a lesser God. The arrogance of those who matter and they who turned a deaf ear towards the trials and tribulations of Kashmir, Palestine and many other such cases, find their haughtiness pale before this onslaught.  

Those locked in by governments and police, whose voices could not be heard, where argument, reason and rationale were ignored under the hypocritical logic of bi-lateral solutions and internal affairs, are now seeing themselves in a mirror like they have never seen before.

The stronger nations ignore global warming and will not participate in any international initiative. They feel they are above Anti Biological and Chemical Warfare Regimes, that they cannot be scrutinized for war crimes by the International Court for Justice which they themselves helped setup. Their argument is condescending, their reason pompous – as they say, ‘they will never undertake measures that may affect their way of life’.

So this will come to pass but what will it leave in its wake; shattered economies, unemployment, bankruptcies, famine and whole societies collapsed within themselves. Maybe, we the lesser nations are spared this doom and gloom or at least not to the devastating levels that the West would have suffered. This pandemic should be seen as a warning; the next one may be far worse.

What might happen post COVID-19?

The United Nations may have to be given an enhanced role as a watchdog, investigator and implementer in affairs of the world’s environment. Powerful countries would have to willingly relinquish some power to the United nations. Greenhouse effects would have to be reversed and carbon emissions controlled. Water regulation would have to be strictly implemented and irrigation may see a revolution in its methods. Food security would need to take priority as a global initiative. 

Yet there are people who feel that as soon as this is over, it will in fact be business as usual. Countries would be back to what they were doing just as they did after the two world wars despite their lofty promises and sincere commitments. However, these plagues and pandemics are not in the control of the powerful and the future will not be dictated and directed  by them. One cannot argue and wrestle with rising temperature, water shortage, carbon emissions, disease and expect to win.

The writer is a former Corps Commander.