COVID-19 clock ticking for Pakistan to take tough decisions: Experts
PESHAWAR: Pakistan still has a narrow window of opportunity to quickly learn from the experiences as well as errors of other countries in order to evolve innovative and comprehensive policy options for the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic is also an opportunity for the nation to become self-reliant in pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering and public health management on war footing. This is not the time for a popularity contest and so some tough decisions, which could be politically costly, have to be taken to save lives and the economy, according to experts addressing the second session of a webinar series, ‘Covid-19: Global Challenge, National Response,’ organized by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).
Senior policy analyst Syed Muhammad Ali was the main speaker who covered different aspects of the pandemic challenges and presented viable policy recommendations. The event was jointly chaired by Dr Waqar Masood Khan, former federal finance secretary and member of IPS Academic Council, and Khalid Rahman, Executive President IPS.
Ali said the extent of the pandemic, whether economic, political, cultural, social or health, varies for different countries and their political systems are tackling this challenge in different ways. But the longer critical decisions are delayed the more a country’s resources come under stress and it faces economic, political and social problems.
He was of the view that various tactics need to be deployed in the war against Covid-19 including close international economic collaboration, use of medical technology and international diplomacy.
Ali said the pandemic is the greatest threat to human lives since the Second World War and as such it is important to call an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. The situation should be declared a global human security challenge and a coordinated and all-encompassing initiative launched for international collaboration in all dimensions.
Dr Waqar said a comprehensive policy should have been formulated through consultations between the federation, provinces and armed forces to counter the pandemic and the ensuing crisis. The federal government initiated a lockdown quite late on March 25 and that too in a halfhearted manner; even now it is trying to pass the buck where responsibility is concerned, he added.
He termed it a timely move by the government to seek from the country’s international lenders a rescheduling of the huge external public debt-related repayments till the crisis ends.
He said a positive outcome of the crisis was that it had provided the country a chance to become self-reliant and overcome shortcomings. Now was the time to grab new opportunities in various sectors, one of which is technology as this is the field of the future, he concluded. - TLTP