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Analysis Coronavirus Politics

Fighting Coronavirus Gives Pakistan A Chance To Reject Superstition & Dogma

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If there is any silver lining from the viral outbreak of Coronavirus, it is that governments and populations are increasingly embracing rationality and logic in their decision making to ensure our survival.

This is a very welcome change since for a long time, logic and rationality were not considered to be the ultimate tools to solve problems but this crisis has shown us that no matter what faith we belong to, or political ideology or social class, only the scientific method can save us from this global epidemic.

The scientific method has been demonised in countries like Pakistan where habitual exploiters have tactfully used religious faith to nurture their own political, social and economic objectives.

Even after this crisis which has taken thousands of lives, the chairman of Tehrik-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Ullah, Ashraf Jalali has organised a public rally for Sunnis and has guaranteed that no one would get infected because the people would be out for a good cause.

The same gentleman has asked the government to hang him if any person contacts the virus due to his rally.

The absurdity of such claims is finally trickling down even to the poor masses who were otherwise susceptible to such religious rhetoric but are now somewhat better informed of these games played by deceitful men.

Punjab government’s Information Minister, Fayyaz ul Hasan Chohan made a statement which sent shockwaves across the entire world. While arguing for precautionary measures against the virus, the spokesperson for the Punjab government argued that special children were a curse from God which should be a source of fear for all wrongdoers.

While this statement broke the hearts of everyone with special children in their families, it also exposed the thinking of the people who are running a province with a population of 100 million.

A comment on the honourable Chief Minister Punjab’s understanding of the virus would be inappropriate at this time but many other senior government officials have pushed their own theories on how to make the virus go away. They range from drinking hot water to eating paracetamol.

Away from power corridors, quacks and pirs have also capitalised on the novel virus and have started selling their own homemade remedies as a cure. Wall chalkings of such wise beings can be found all across Pakistan with a cure for Coronavirus advertised for as low as a thousand rupees.

Despite all this, many people are beginning to follow mainstream news organisations and are keeping up to date with the latest figures of the crisis. Modern medicine is being relied upon by even the most religiously inclined person who previously might have believed that only prayer would save them.

There is a global consensus that the ultimate solution to the Coronavirus lies in a vaccine which can only be created using the scientific method. No prayer, no superstition, no spirit/jinn and no old wives tale can make this problem go away but experts using logic and the scientific method can.

Politicians and religious leaders might continue to feel the need to exploit religion for their own gains but the severity of this crisis would ultimately make them reconsider. Even Saudi Arabia has closed down the holiest mosques but some Pakistanis are so dogmatic that they still went for collective “Jummah” prayers yesterday despite the health risk.

Like the world at large, Pakistan must also rise up to face this crisis. We must decide whether we want to rely on superstition, anti-science rhetoric, dogma or logic, rationality and the scientific method. Whatever we decide, ultimately, we ourselves will have to bear the brunt of our choice.

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Naya Daur