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Editorial | SC Order Will Further Hamper Pakistan’s Feeble Response To COVID Crisis

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Today Pakistanis have been treated to a new chapter in trivializing the threat posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. This latest intervention comes not from the federal government but from the honourable Supreme Court. The apex court’s approach fits in exactly with that of the government: i.e. an alternative worldview based on alternative facts.

According to these alternative facts that we get from the Supreme Court’s order:

There are other serious ailments prevailing in the country, from which people are dying daily and those ailments are not being catered and the Coronavirus (COVID-19), which apparently is not a pandemic in Pakistan, is swallowing so huge money. [sic]”

Naturally, if the Coronavirus “apparently is not a pandemic in Pakistan”, then it makes a lot of sense that the apex court calls for doing away with the few restrictions that have been in place after the federal government had its way. There are more important priorities in this alternative worldview: such as the purchase of new clothes for Eid.

In short, the wholesale adoption of Coronavirus-denialism, consistently pushed by the federal government, now appears to be established wisdom among the highest judicial authorities too. This attitude, of course, is based on an alternative understanding of human biology and epidemiology, which runs totally counter to what Pakistani doctors have been saying.

Since it seems futile to argue against Coronavirus-denialism, we will restrict ourselves to the other problem posed by the apex court’s order: i.e. judicial overreach. Even if the court’s order is essentially motivated by the same alternative facts as the government, it is still the prerogative of the government to decide (or not decide) Pakistan’s Covid-19 response. It is difficult to imagine why the honourable apex court felt the need to wade into this situation.

The implementation of this order will only further hamper Pakistan’s already feeble response to the Coronavirus outbreak. To the extent that the order singles out the Sindh government for opprobrium, it also contributes to the process of undermining provincial authority that has already been advanced by the federal government.

By emphasizing how authorities must not “scare” entrepreneurs lest they move to more profitable locations, this example of judicial overreach also codifies a laissez-faire approach to the economy. In that approach, there is no room for public health or collective interest when private profits are perceived to be in jeopardy.

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