Selective compliance | By Zaheer Bhatti


Selective compliance

WITH the exception of the Chinese, it is New Zealand that has controlled the menace of the initial as well as all the subsequent variants of Corona admirably and it is not by any magic wand wielded by its Prime Minister Jacinda Arden but because of the simple fact that every soul in that Country complies with directions and respects rule of law.

The success of any such effort hinges upon individual and collective compliance, which neither means surrender nor favour to the State instrument but brings into play a streak of goodness of self, which ultimately comes off with such exceptional results.

New Zealand practices four levels of SOPs and the moment a single case surfaces it is quarantined immediately, carrying of the virus is tracked without loss of time and the area is locked down eliciting complete compliance of SOPs.

There are no arrests, reprimands, summons or fines because every citizen simply complies considering it a moral duty more to itself rather than anyone else, unlike Pakistan where instant protests erupt in locked down localities and businesses complain losses. It is a shame that the Army has to be deployed to make people wear masks.

Many in several leading civilized societies such as the US, Britain and the Mid-West initially dismissed the alarm with arrogance bordering on indifference, and the results were chaotic.

In countries like Pakistan, as long as the clergy also complied and disseminated the precaution to the followers of the faith and SOPs were followed in the mosques and congregations, the exercise was successful, but with SOPs being taken lightly in the far more lethal third corona wave, relying totally upon their Faith on account of which alone the Almighty would afford them reprieve, is so ill-conceived that it has resulted in a steep rise in cases and fatalities despite a conscious Government move to vaccinate frontline health workers including Doctors and paramedics followed by citizens above 60.

We are still amiss, regarding officials who come profusely in contact with the public such as members of District Administration all over the country who should also be vaccinated including the Deputy and Assistant Commissioners as also the roving Police and revenue staff which is equally exposed and susceptible, and risks their lives.

The untiring DC of Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat is one example of defeating the virus, whereas we heard the sad news of celebrated former IG Police Nasir Durrani succumbing to the menace.

There is a state of apathy and an appalling rate of non-compliance in societies such as ours where we demand a lot from the Government but are not prepared to discharge our own part of even moral obligations to the State.

We want facilities but refuse to shoulder responsibilities. We do not pay taxes but want things at cheaper rates.

We endure adulteration, smuggling, hoarding and overcharging and do not put up consumer resistance by boycotting the product, but expect the government to deliver.

Our social morality has gone down the drain because we have abandoned the Holy Quran.

It is ironically the non-Muslim societies and cultures which are seen practicing the virtues of life and morality such as truth, honesty, sincerity and compassion advocated by the Holy Book from which we Muslims today have gone astray and not complying with its teachings.

One can safely bet that 90% of literate Muslim population does not know the meaning of the prayer which they merely parrot; reducing it to a meaningless ritual; and thus the rapid decline of morality in Muslim Societies which we witness every other moment.

It is evident that unless one comprehends the meaning and substance of the Quranic revelations which are in themselves a complete code of life, we can neither practice nor benefit from their virtues.

It is also a sorry state of affairs that Pakistan’s successive leadership has paid little or no attention to nurturing future generations and making them conscious of their rights as well as obligations through a uniform system of education with focus and emphasis upon character building.

This can be done by institutionalizing the teachings of the Holy Quran by making it compulsory up to tenth grade/A-levels, as reading of the Holy Book with its translation alone will serve to enlighten the Muslim world and make it aware of its values.

But there are areas of compliance having grave implications for the country’s sovereignty, which is the duty of all components of the State to resist and spurn through the floor of the Parliament as well as by rallying public support outside.

It is extremely upsetting to discover that Imran Khan’s Government; contrary to its narrative of taking the monster of price escalations head on, was contemplating autonomy now for the State Bank of Pakistan, knowingly surrendering to the IMF which contradicts itself by posing to care for the Pakistani poor and yet requires constant raising of energy tariffs which directly affect the underprivileged.

One can only hope that Shaukat Tareen will be able to draw home this duplicity to the IMF.

But resisting such capitulation devolves also upon the State machinery whose job it is to provide, and which must drastically reduce gap in income and non-development expenditure, cut line losses, expand tax base through tax relief and not punitive measures to encourage more filers.

It must strongly come down upon the big tax evaders instead of haplessly raising energy prices, only to be cursed by the public.

Autonomy, which in its true sense ought to have been a virtue, is an anathema in socio-political cultures such as ours where it is invariably declared but never actually granted.

It is applied and practiced where it suits the Government to take unpopular decisions and to conveniently pass the blame; posing not to be interfering in the Independence of such Institutions which is the case with most regulatory bodies, but clamping down upon entities such as the autonomous domains of provinces; often accusing them of exceeding their mandate.

—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.

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