Enforcing smart lockdowns just ahead of Eid is the smartest thing that the government could do right now. It has just achieved the somewhat miraculous feat, considering the circumstances all over the world, of reducing the death rate from the coronavirus by 87 percent over three months, as Special Advisor to Prime Minister Dr Zafar Mirza tweeted recently. Last time too the situation was pretty comfortable just before Eid, but then the way people threw the rule book out the window and mixed about freely meant that the country had a full scale emergency on its hands very soon. Now, though, the smart lockdown strategy seems to have done the trick, and there’s hardly a country in the world that is sitting as comfortably as Pakistan is right now at least as far as the coronavirus goes.
It also appears that the right lessons have been learnt. Last time people were pretty much left on their own, but this time the government has cried out hoarse about all the safety measures needed and just why everything went so bad before. It is, at the end of the day, up to the people to follow the rules since there’s no country in the world that can monitor compliance on such a large scale. But it is up to the government to provide the overarching narrative as well as lead everybody in the right direction. That is why certain enforcement measures right before Eid like lockdowns and suspension of intercity transport should also help. After Eid will come Moharram, which will also test both the resolve of the people to follow their religious ideals while maintaining safety for everybody and the foresight of the government in making sure most issues are settled ahead of time.
This is precisely the point where everybody should realise that remarkable as the handling of the pandemic has been so far, it could easily disappear in smoke in the case of the slightest carelessness anywhere in the country. Such is the speed of the spread of this virus and its lethal nature that almost all the world is still trying to keep it from spreading at the speed of light. We’ve already been overwhelmed by it once. We have neither the time nor the recources to go through that nightmare again. Full marks to the government for getting a handle on the situation. But the fight goes on, and a lot more will be needed.