People suffer, as usual


Whether it is hundreds of thousands of mourners setting a historical record for participation in a famous and charismatic cleric’s funeral or the combined opposition exercising its democratic right to hold protests, the one thing that is sure to come from even such well-intentioned mass gatherings is a very rapid spread of the coronavirus. And it is going to be ordinary people who have nothing to do with anything that even remotely draws large crowds, since they simply do not find time from just trying to earn enough to keep their families alive, that are going to suffer as always. At this point the government is also helpless. It has tried to get people to stay indoors and put off anything that would draw a lot of people close to each other till a better time, but nothing is going to work till people cooperate.
The next few days are going to bring the fruits of the congregations of the past few days and already hospitals are near full capacity in most major cities. It is also a matter of concern that the coronavirus positivity ratio has almost reached 20 percent in Multan, which is where PDM plans to hold its next big rally. It is not possible to ensure social distancing and enforcement of important SOPs at such events even if everybody tries to act responsibly. Now, legally it is the opposition’s prerogative to hold these rallies, and it is up to the people to attend them or not, and the best the government can do is tell everybody just what is at stake.
You could argue for greater power in the hands of the executive in such circumstances as the present, but then that would draw the usual allegations of exploitation, etc. It is, after all, very much in the interest of the government to foil the protests, and any and every political party in the world would use the pandemic as leverage at such a point. So this show is likely to go on till it worsens the situation to such an extent that the government is just forced to put its foot down. And the ordinary people who will be cut off from their work as a result will end up paying the highest price as always.