Life After Covid


As new and new mutations keep rearing their heads to fly in the face of vaccinations, the pandemic is not going anywhere. No qualms about that. And staying true to such unforgettable disasters in the yore, the ongoing COVID-19 testing the limits of mankind; forcing us to push open the portal to a new world. A dramatic beginning for Mother Earth, indeed.
However, coronavirus was just as critical of an economic crisis as the medical catastrophe. Unbelievably low footfall, emptied streets and hauntingly quiet public places have been the order for well over a year. The most tragic has been the sight of white tiles around the revered Khana Kaaba; sealed for the longest time in the history of the world. But while humanity is fast springing back to normalcy with a radical shift in behaviours, the economy is still dragging behind. Writing closer to home, capital markets have been severely roiled as international volatility reigns supreme. Last year, Pakistan’s GDP was expected to tumble down 1.5 per cent over virus-induced fallout. Oil prices were in a perpetual freefall, the aviation industry seemed to have closed up shop and literally, every sector across the country had its eyes set on the state for a lifeline. Having survived at least four waves threatening to strike at the jugular, complete lockdowns followed by stringent travel curbs and a series of smart lockdowns, the economy is still standing–albeit, bruised, here there and everywhere. Skyrocketing oil prices have dramatically dampened the resumption of businesses. Though international indicators have shouted out a nascent recovery, the sweeteners are yet to trickle down. Because the masses are still reeling under an unprecedented inflation rate. Prices in Pakistan tend to never return, once taking off to higher skies. Thus, the double-digit food inflation and a seemingly never-ending energy’s train wreck narrate a horror story for those clutching on their purse strings.
There is no denying that the rise of digital behaviour has turbo-charged the future of work. Pakistan’s youth remains one of the biggest benefactors of remote working, learning and delivery services. But new opportunities come with a whole new set of challenges, which have amplified how our archaic practices conflict with the norms of a digital economy. Paypal, for instance, remains the biggest thorn in an otherwise rosy avenue of generating revenue, Silicon Valley-style. Another casualty of the changed realities is tourism, which was expected to pave the way for renewed financial priorities in Naya Pakistan. Though travellers have started tieing their laces again and there is a never-before-witnessed influx of domestic tourists, the government better up its game to market its tourist destinations to the world. As for Pakistani Muslims longing for just one Tawaf in the Grand Mosque, diplomatic channels with Jeddah need to be tapped again to relax travel restrictions.