Indians and Pakistanis love competition, especially against each other. They both love comparing their success against the other. Even though Pakistan has a lesser population, area, and resources, it has often trumped India, whether it be Cricket, Hockey, Aerial dogfights, nuclear tests, conflicts, and wars.
When it comes to adopting economic reforms, India has lagged by four decades. Pakistan scored an average of 6 % GDP growth rate for the first four decades while India recorded a 2 to 3 % GDP growth rate, also called the ‘Hindu rate of growth.’
India has also lagged by three decades in adopting Pakistani Ruler/President Zia Ul Haq’s religion-based statecraft with its own Hindu extremists like the Rashtriya Sewak Sangha, Bharatiya Janata Party, Shiv Sena, Jan Sangha, and Sangh Parivar, etc.
However, one area where India has taken light-year leaps over Pakistan is its poor handling of the Corona Pandemic. That is one competition Pakistan has wholly lost. India is now competing with the Americans to become at least a Covid-19 Superpower with total infections exceeding 30 million compared to the USA’s 34 million.
The Western media has for too long pampered India and boosted its egos and delusions of superpower hood. It is certainly premature for Pakistan to announce either a USesque ‘Mission accomplished’ or an Indian style victory to control the Covid-19 Pandemic claimed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March 2021, before the second wave struck.
Now with the advent of a ‘Made in India’ or India’s own indigenous Covid -19 variant called by the World Health Organization(WHO) as ‘Delta Variant,’ the situation threatens to become explosive.
India has also recently reported the emergence of the much dangerous ‘Delta Plus Variant,’ after it has already traveled to 88 countries, including UK, USA, Russia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, etc.
According to Indian Virology Expert, Dr. Shahid Jameel of Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University, the absence of adequate human genome sequencing was the major reason for the failure to detect this new variant, which is supposedly a hybrid of India’s own Delta and South Africa’s Beta variant.
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Indians, along with the global population, are nervous regarding the possibility of a ‘Third wave’ of Delta Plus. India’s Covid-19 fiasco has already hurt many Developing countries, which had high expectations from India’s self-proclaimed Pharmaceutical and Vaccine manufacturing contracts and promises.
When the second wave of Covid -19 struck India, the Indian companies reneged on all their promises and deals, disappointing these countries. The Western nations who had promoted India’s so-called ‘Vaccine diplomacy’ to counter China were deeply embarrassed.
They themselves also stopped their exports of Covid-19 Vaccines to the Developing World. It will be difficult for India to restore its credibility or image amongst the vast majority of the Developing countries, which were left high and dry in their times of need.
Pakistan fighting back
When the American think tank IHME (Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation) based at the University of Washington was calling Pakistan a ‘Tipping Pakistan’ and predicting the likelihood of 42,188 Covid -19 related deaths by October 2020, Pakistanis of all shades and opinions were wondering, on what was coming next!
The Washington Think Tank’s forecast of devastation from the Covid-19 Pandemic happened to alert the Pakistanis timely and save them, irrespective of whatever their intentions may have been.
Their dire forecasts did, however, come true in India. The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) was established timely in Pakistan in April 2020. The on-time assistance from China which sent ‘medical supplies and doctors,’ prepared Pakistan well for the Corona pandemic.
Advances in digital technology were fully harnessed for COVID-19 contact tracing, which allowed the travel restrictions of ‘selective lockdowns’ and helped take timely decisions. There was effective coordination among all the stakeholders, including the Federation and the Provinces. The military stepped in with their excellent organizational skills and mobilization to provide a head start to this specific task of disaster management.
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The military’s support to the civilian healthcare institution proved critical to defeating the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan. Hundreds of Pakistan’s brave sons and daughters in their role as Medical Doctors and healthcare workers also gave their precious lives, fighting on the frontlines to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
They made their medical profession, humanity, and Pakistan truly proud! The efforts to fight Covid -19 pandemic in Pakistan since February 2020 have revived the Pakistani spirit, as indeed during the 1965 war, 1998 Nuclear tests, 2005 Earthquake, 2010 Floods. It is said that nations are tested in their hours of crisis, which is undoubtedly when the best of Pakistan comes out.
Pakistan’s success as a ‘Rock star’ in containing the Covid-19 pandemic comes as yet another addition to its long list of surprises to the world, including its successes in achieving Nuclear status, Aerial dogfights, Cricket, Hockey, Horse racing, etc. Pakistanis love the thrill of challenges, surprises, and humor, with the future having more in store.
Global double standards
What is important to note is the fact that though the daily Covid-19 infections in Pakistan were a mere fraction (1% of India’s daily infections and Covid-19 related deaths, even less), the Western nations, in the most illogical manner, adopted the so-called ‘even handed treatment’ by barring travel from and to Pakistan along with India and other South Asian states.
The British went so far as to add Pakistan to the ‘Red list,’ even before India, while the second wave was already decimating India. The result of these discriminations and double standards have badly hit the Western nations themselves, with the now emergence of the dreaded ‘Indian variant,’ termed as the dangerous ‘Delta variant’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Nearly fifty thousand Indian people, recovering from Covid-19 infections, have become victims of another deadly disease called ‘Black Fungus,’ affecting their eyes in particular. Medical reports suggest its origins in the use of Cow urine, a popular drink among India’s extremist Hindu population.
The discontinuation of regular cultural and trade ties with India (after the August 5, 2019, action to dissolve Article 370 and 35A on the special status of Jammu and Kashmir) has been nature’s great timely favor to Pakistan, helping it avoid the terrible fate of Covid Pandemic of India.
It is in Pakistan’s interest to keep these contacts to a minimum in order to avoid the ‘super spreader Indian variant,’ as the existing Chinese, Russian and Western vaccines are only partially effective against it. Pakistani’s thank Allah the Almighty for sparing them the tragedy of confronting the variant.
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Having strained relations with India over the past two years may have been, in fact, a ‘blessing in disguise.’ India is now caught up and punished by its own arrogance, delusion, hate, complacency. Due to their closer relations with India and hence greater vulnerabilities, Nepal and Bangladesh suffered the same.
After-effects of the second wave
The third wave of Covid-19 and the emergence of Delta and Delta Plus variants now threaten to rip apart India’s economy after decimating much of its financial, commercial, and IT centers in the major cities.
The Financial Times, in a write-up dated June 14, 2021, called ‘India as the Weakest link in USled Quad.’ Even IHME, in a report dated March 25, 2021, expects India to have a million deaths by August 2021. It further believes that India’s official Covid-19 related deaths are under-estimated by a factor of twenty times.
India’s rivers, towns, and villages are the only true witnesses to the human catastrophe unfolding in the country. The hospitals have overflowed as much as the cremation sites or graveyards. India could have avoided this tragedy had it invested in health care instead of Aircraft Carriers, Submarines, and Rafael jets.
It is only a sad reflection of the fast deteriorating state of Indian society because of its inbuilt weaknesses, structural deficiencies, social schisms, and emotional delusions. Come June 2021, Pakistan‘s Covid-19 infections are yet to touch one million cases, while India is racing to close in with the 30million infections as compared to 33 million in the USA.
Pakistan’s Covid-19 casualties are roughly half of the IHME forecasts, even after the lapse of a year and the impact of the third wave. This proves that the dire predictions are only reserved for Pakistan, in the racist Islam-phobic Western societies.
The low rate of Covid-19 infections in Pakistan necessitates a deeper scientific, medical, and social analysis than it has been so far accorded to by the Researchers in Pakistan and abroad.
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The factors like demographic make-up, youth bulge, dietary habits, living conditions, social attitudes, hygiene standards, DNA, etc., may all explain only part realities. The average Pakistani, being religious, term all good things in life as the blessing of Allah the Almighty.
India’s self-imposed strict censorship on bad news cannot truly hide the enormity of damages it is going through. Whether the western media has been able or unable to report the Covid-19 mayhem and carnage in the rural countryside is now irrelevant.
It will be a miracle if India can achieve its ambitious, targeted GDP of US $ 5 trillion in 2025. The Indian Middle class has been decimated, as indeed its financial hub Mumbai. The Western media have long overlooked India’s vulnerabilities and projected its ‘larger than life’ image.
However, the devastations of the Covid-19 Pandemic have laid bare India’s inbuilt political, economic, and social weaknesses. Bangladesh, despite its recent economic achievements, is equally vulnerable because of its closer linkages with India.
An obvious consequence of India’s fall has been America’s failed efforts to win over Bangladesh to join the ‘Quad.’ Nepalese are no exception due to their economic and cultural relations with India, particularly the millions of migrant laborers.
From Galwan valley to Covid -19 Pandemic, India has traveled a long distance to ‘strategic irrelevance’ Quad or no Quad, in a fast-changing world where ground realities matter, more than the ‘fake narratives and emotional delusions.’
However, what now makes India the ‘weak Man of South Asia’ is Indian’s own actions. Merely touting foreign exchange inflows by the Foreign Fund Houses, which are themselves scared of the consequences of fast deterioration in the Indian economy, cannot hide the ground realities for long.
Ambassador (Retd) Syed Hasan Javed served in the People’s Republic of China in two diplomatic assignments in the Embassy of Pakistan for nearly a decade. Has also had diplomatic postings in Brussels, Geneva, Harare, and Dushanbe. He speaks fluent Chinese and is the author of several books on China, including Pakistan’s Bestseller ‘Chinese Made Easy’. He joined the Civil Service of Pakistan in 1979. He holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Karachi.