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Editorial | Govt Must Keep Opposition On Board In Formulating COVID-19 Policies

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Former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of the PML-N has come out to say that the federal government failed to take Parliament and the opposition on board in formulating its Coronavirus policy. This is a a point which PM Imran Khan’s administration would do well to bear in mind.

Unfortunately, due to the shrill polarization introduced by the current ruling party into Pakistan’s body politic, it has been unable to make elected institutions work except in rare circumstances – when it felt it needed them. This is not to say that the record of parliamentarianism for the previous government was stellar.

But in the situation of the Coronavirus pandemic, when the whole world is trying to operate in new ways to deal with the radically altered set of circumstances, is it too much to ask that Pakistan’s government also adopt a new way of operating?

At the very least, for the duration of the challenge posed to Pakistan by Covid-19, the government must learn to keep opposition parties on board in formulating policy. So far, it has mostly either ignored them or jousted with them – the latter being most evident in the war of words with the Sindh government.

PM Imran Khan and his associates must remember that there is no real victory in the Coronavirus pandemic. There exists only the possibility of steering towards a less disastrous outcome at best. Loss of human life and damage to the economy has occurred even in countries whose response has been far more better informed and better managed than that of Pakistan.

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If the federal government insists on its usual solo-flight method of policy-making, it risks being left alone to handle the blowback from matters going out of control. And there is much that is beyond the control of the government when it comes to Pakistan’s response to the pandemic – as we have learned over the past few weeks.

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