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TEMPORARY HARD TIMES

ALI SUKHANVER -

Really gone were the golden days. The Covid-19 has deprived of a very beautiful life. How charismatic were the days no more with us; children, getting up early in the morning and running to their schools, young boys and girls speeding to their colleges and universities and mothers making breakfast for them and packing their lunch boxes and men rushing to their jobs.  The evenings were more colorful, more enthusiastic. Shopping malls and marriage halls and even the tea-stalls along the roadside were so much crowded that it was always a difficult job to get some sitting space. All that hustle and bustle was a multidimensional source of happiness and prosperity for everyone linked with that system of life. The sale-boys, the computer-operators, the loaders and un-loaders, the technicians, the decorators and the shopkeepers; everyone was getting benefit of that hustle and bustle. Now we are all in a strange state of confusion: everyone is helplessly thinking whether this world would ever return to the normal.
 We all are in a strange state of confusion as Covid-19 has covered the very colorful world of us with the ominous clouds of murky, gloomy darkness. No one knows what is going to happen next. Uncertainty and ambiguity give birth to fear and insecurity. Lock down or no-lock down; no one knows what is safer, what is better. Even the print and the electronic media are at the height of helplessness with reference to information and awareness in this respect. As far as the social media is concerned, it has never been trust worthy and reliable. 
People are acting upon an old proverbial; do as Romans do when in Rome here in Pakistan. At some places you would find everyone wearing a mask on face, gloves on hands, observing a strict social distancing, all the time having a hand-sanitizer in trouser pocket but at the same time there are some places where people ignore all these precautions. The reason is very simple; most of the people are not clear about the consequences of not observing the lock down or of ignoring the precautionary steps. Some say that this lock down is going to stop the cycle of life permanently and some are of the opinion that this lock down is promoting a philosophy which guarantees the lives of a few people by sacrificing the lives of the majority. 
The intensity of Covid-19 is not as severe as it is in the European countries; it is also a point of view very popular in Pakistan. Some people say this less intensity is because of the severity of weather in the region or due to some extra-ordinarily strong immune system of the people. Some ‘innocent’ thinkers are of the opinion that this all hue and cry about the hazards of the pandemic in Pakistan is nothing but an effort of getting more and more financial aids and monetary relaxations from the international donor organizations. Some pseudo-intellectuals are propagating a very ‘childlike’ philosophy of their own that this all is a part of the ‘vaccine-conspiracy’ prepared by Bill Gates type of world-saviors. GatesNotes is the name of a blog run by Bill Gates. Through this blog he keeps in touch with the common people who look towards him as the children look towards the sun. On 30th April 2020, he wrote in his blog, “One of the questions I get asked the most these days is when the world will be able to go back to the way things were in December before the coronavirus pandemic. My answer is always the same: when we have an almost perfect drug to treat COVID-19, or when almost every person on the planet has been vaccinated against coronavirus. Realistically, if we’re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine.”
In short whatever be the story behind the spread of the Covid-19, the gist of the matter is that the whole world is facing the worst consequences of this pandemic; socially, psychologically, financially and certainly emotionally. And the countries like Pakistan, though at present in a comparatively safe position, are going to be the worst victim to it if not properly taken care of. The loss could be more severe in monetary shape than in form of life losses. For the last two months things are in a stand still position. All businesses, all factories, all manufacturing units and even the government and private offices are closed. There is a strict ban on opening markets and shops. A few shops of vegetable and meat and a few grocery stores are given permission of catering the needs of people for a limited time period. Restaurants, barber shops, book shops and even the motor workshops are also closed. This situation badly affected the labor class and the daily wagers though the government has taken all possible steps to provide them financial help and food items of daily use but the severity of the situation could not be minimized. Ultimately the government had to relax ‘lock-down’ in those fields which are directly linked with the daily wagers and the labor class. In this way the ‘lock down’ was changed into ‘smart lock down’.
With all these pluses and minuses, one thing is seriously missing here in Pakistan; the fear of Covid-19. Most of the people are taking this pandemic as an attack of ‘routine’ seasonal virus; they are very much confident that things would return to normal very soon. But in spite of all this confidence, courage, fearlessness and bravery, there is a very dark side of the situation hidden from the eyes of the people. For the last two months our children are away from their books and their studies. But the good side of it is that we have succeeded in making ventilators of our own; our researchers are just at the verge of discovering some magic-treatment for the disease; our doctors, paramedical staff, law-enforcement agencies have proved their worth. In short if Bill Gates has any plans of making the world a slave to his vaccine; we, the Pakistanis have arranged to keep us out of that queue of vaccine-needy ones. One needs nothing but courage and determination to combat Covid-19 type of pandemics and in Pakistan we have these necessary traits in abundance.

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