The mortal humanworth

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ZAHEER BHATTI
BROOKINGS Institute based in the United States; one of the largely credible think-tanks of the world has warned that valuable time was slipping out of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s hands in view of delay over imposition of the lockdown, which was giving rise to uncertainty among the population. The think-tank has pointedly referred to indecision over a prompt decree to defer prayer congregation and its strict enforcement despite mosque lockdown in rest of the Islamic world, and inadequate health facilities in the country to face up to a magnified challenge should it occur. One sympathizes with Imran Khan’s socio-economic predicament which the Brookings opinion makers do not fully comprehend. Unfortunately, divergent views of religious scholars over precautionary prayer restrictions, has prevented a unified direction from Government leading to confusion in country resulting in congregations in some mosques, avoidance in others and Friday congregations in the open where access to mosques was denied. This stark public ignorance presents ominous signs of a larger spread of the deadly virus which makes no distinctions and calls for media to reach out to this segment of the society and make people realizethatthey were subconsciously not only endangering their own life but also of others. The worst manifestation of confusion were the views of two religious personalities over a TV Channel where MuftiMuneeb-ur-Rehman refusedto engagein a proposed online interaction with Dr Javed Ahmad Ghamidi unless physically face to face; an extremely ill-conceived precondition in modern day media; the idea having been an informed discourse and not a physical bout. One saw the Mufti unfairly scolding the anchor for interruptions he was hardly allowed to make, and yet not stating for public consumption the precise recommendations he had made to the Government on the issue. Dr Ghamidi in a separate appearance was rational and quoted frequently fromthe Quran and Hadees-e-Nabvi (SAW). But over two weeks since the lockdown, there is still no sustained direction on prayers except the Chairman Islamic Ideology Council advising people to offer Friday prayers at home without clarifying how it was in order without Khutba and whether Zohar prayer should be offered instead. Where Pakistan’s religious leadership and the clergy as a whole failed to live up to the occasion there is a silver lining amid the otherwise resilient Pakistani nation which has always kept hope and faith alive and steadfast.Athought provoking TV program made some valuable suggestions in which Allama Tahir Ashrafi made an impassioned appealtothe nearly six million Pakistaniindividuals performing Umrah every year, to donate their set aside amounts for the purpose to the National Fund since there would be no Umrah this year in view of the viral outbreak, and earn recompense for Umrah from Almighty. The famed social segment TV anchor Iqrarul Hassan revealed that he was ready with his two million strong voluntary force countrywide many of which were already donating blood in various blood banks, whileAbrarulhaqChairman PakistanRed Crescentindicated having enlistedtenthousand volunteers. Unfortunately, the Pakistani PM who is domestically un-receptiveto suggestionsis unableto distinguish between running a Government in normal times and facing a national calamity which is impossible to handle by going it alone. The PrimeMinister in one of his discourses with the Electronic Media Channels brushed aside an apt suggestion from Nasim Zehra to act taller than self by interacting with the Opposition over the Corona threat in order to provide a healing touch as the country’s key leader in this hour of trial. The Khan as usual repeated his blame against past leadership for inadequacy among other things, of health facilities in the country as if in his own nearly two years in office he had done any better. The other day he had snubbed some TV anchors who had questioned the premeditated arrest ofthetop media-chain owner ofthe country on frivolous charges by the NAB which was being condemned by all segments ofthe societywhilethe PM claimed unmatched freedom of Press, which was belied by the absence of any representative of that media group at the briefing. Ratherthan harnessingtheexisting disastermanagement facilities of the country by taking inspiration from and emulatingthe Sahiwal example andimmaculatemanagement of the virus effect bythe DistrictAdministration where no viral cases were reported, creation of an untrained PTI patent ‘Tiger Force’ismyopic and divisivein nature.Wheretimeis of essence, disbursement of national resources without a nonpartisanwatchdogensuring screeningandenrollment regardless of Party affiliations besides training, and provision of protective gears to volunteers likely to be exposed to potential carriers of the virus, and which right now are not sufficiently available even for the doctors, nurses and paramedics assigned to Corona patients, looks to be a non-starter. A centrally administered Corona Relief Fund to augment constrained national resources, though belated is the answer in which all donations must be channelled rather than various bodies raising funds separately,which are prone to duplication. The Government might do well to harness existing social welfare organizations by using their manpower under NDMA control besides urging the affluent to donate generously and avail a chance to earn the blessings of providence in the face of its warning to entire mankind, to make amends for its misdeeds and injustices they have been meting out to fellow human beings. It indeed is only an initial warning to the mortal global human community whose real worth is a mere bubble of water. Where generosity is Pakistan’s hallmark, it also has vultures amid them who remorselessly make their buck even in times of adversity as if they would carry their ill-gotten riches with them to the grave; unless they think they were never to die. Such people and particularly the middle man deserve exemplary punishment and no mercy. —The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.