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Monday, November 27, 2023

Khawaja Asif urges NA to adopt journalist Fahd Husain’s proposed policy to combat COVID-19

Khawaja Asif of PML-N urged the NA to adopt a policy proposed by journalist Fahd Husain to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. The government is yet to respond whether it shall adopt the policy or not. Read Husain’s proposed policy here.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Khawaja Asif on Thursday has advised the federal government to better focus on saving the lives of people from deadly coronavirus instead of doing politics on this matter.  Speaking in National Assembly (NA), Khawaja Asif said that there is a contradiction in the statements of Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan regarding coronavirus issues. There is no one who can explain his statements, he added.


The PML-N leader further criticized the government over failed policies to prevent the spread of the virus. “Do not play politics of vote (over coronavirus). World Health Organization (WHO) has said that our surveillance is weak, we are not tracking patients correctly — not on an individual or on a government level,” he went on to say.

Khawaja Asif told that Pakistan is among 10 countries with the highest reporting rates and the trajectory is sadly showing that we are going up to number three or four. Hospitals in Islamabad are not admitting patients over the age of 60 because they think saving them is difficult, he asserted.

Read More: Why are COVID-19 cases increasing in Pakistan?

The PML-N leader urged the NA to adopt the policy outlined by Fahd Husain, a prominent Pakistani journalist, to contain the virus.

Khawaja Asif’s case: Fahd Husain outlines a policy to combat the deadly pandemic

Fahd Husain outlined a practical policy to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in 20 tweets. Mr. Husain proposes the formation of a parliamentary committee to contain the virus.  GVS is producing Mr. Husain’s proposed policy here for its readers.

Mr. Husain says:

“The #COVIDー19 situation has reached a dangerous level. It could easily spiral out of control. Time to stop treating it as political football & start tackling it for what it really is: a public health emergency. But how? Here are specific suggestions for our leadership.
‘Lockdown vs No Lockdown’ debate has needlessly become a partisan hot potato. It should not be. PTI govt pursued a policy it thought best. No one in the world knew what the right policy was. What PTI govt did was its right. That’s done. Let us move on. How? #COVIDー19.

It is clear #COVIDー19 is not a partisan issue. It requires collective ownership so decisions are taken not for political one-upmanship but for the safety of citizens. For this to happen, all political parties need to take a deep breath, calm down and take one step back.

Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. If we can swiftly build a narrative that states that #COVIDー19 need not be zero-sum game between govt & opposition, we can find within ourselves a reason to sculpt a bipartisan strategy to combat the virus. However, a few critical points: First, govt remains the driver of policy, of course. The difference is that on this policy, input comes from across party lines & transparent injection of this input into operational strategy is ensured. Second, no one must lose face. No one. #COVIDー19.

Call this ‘National Strategy for #COVIDー19 Phase 2.’ Now, how do we make this happen. Fortunately, our democratic structures provide space to construct such a policy framework using available forums. What follows below is one set of proposals (there could be many)

a) Govt should request Speaker National Assembly @AsadQaiserPTI to constitute a special joint committee of both houses (NA & Senate) to formulate policy recommendations on #COVIDー This committee should include all parliamentary heads of parties in both houses.

Read More: COVID-19 in Pakistan: Is the government going to re-impose lockdown?

b) This high powered committee should be chaired by @Asad_Umar because he has the seniority, gravitas, knowledge & experience of #COVIDー19 policy as head of #NCOC to steer the committee towards a deliverable outcome. He is also best suited to know what policy inputs are key.

c) Since NA is already in session till August, we are ideally placed to get this committee working on a deadline. Speaker @AsadQaiserPTI can pass a ruling that the committee will meet every day without a break till it has mapped out a detailed policy framework #COVIDー19

d) NCOC has met every day without a break. Since @Asad_Umar has ensured that, he can ensure the same for this committee. In addition, the committee should be given a deadline to produce final recommendations given the urgency of the task #COVIDー19

e) Two weeks maximum may be a reasonable time frame. The committee should then invite key specialists from all relevant fields to give briefings & present policy options. Committee members can question, debate and discuss pros/cons of all presentations for clarity #COVIDー19

f) Specialists to be called by the committee may include doctors, public health experts, infectious diseases specialists, mathematical modelers, data scientists, pharma representatives, public policy experts, international consultants, behavioral psychologists…#COVIDー19

g) Specialists to be invited could also include strategic communication experts, brand influencers, public sector administrators, welfare organization heads, donor agencies reps, economists and bankers. These experts should be asked to bring specific proposals #COVIDー19

h) At the end of two weeks, the committee should be able to draft a specific list of policy options aimed at combating #COVIDー19 effectively based on practical, doable & finance-able best practices. These recommendations would represent the sense of the parliament as a whole.

Read More: COVID-19 cases steadily increasing in Pakistan; experts fear ‘tough time yet to come’

i) All committee proceedings/hearings should be shown live on the PTV Parliament channel. At a critical moment in our history, let the nation see how its political leadership representing is rising to the occasion and forging a policy for greater good #COVIDー19.

j) The live telecast of proceedings of the committee will also help generate positive and non-abrasive, non-divisive narrative that Pakistan needs today. It will also help inject specifity into public discourse and elevate policy discussion in public domain #COVIDー19.

k) These policy recommendations, representing the collective will of the parliament, should then be taken to the National Coordination Committee (NCC). Here @Asad_Umar should present it to PM @ImranKhanPTI who chairs the forum #COVIDー19.

l) Since @Asad_Umar also chairs the #NCOC the input of the Establishment will already have been included in the final recommendations via the proceedings of the joint committee of the two houses. NCC can have a final debate on these recommendations #COVIDー19.

m) This is where provincial chief ministers can bring in their input to add to recommendations to make them truly representative of the entire nation. Once the NCC has approved them, PM @ImranKhanPTI can send this new strategic policy to #NCOC via @Asad_Umar #COVIDー19.

Read More:  COVID-19: Why did the Supreme Court of Pakistan ignore experts’ opinion?

n) We will then move ahead with swiftness, consensus, professionalism and inter-provincial as well as inter-party coordination and cooperation to degrade and defeat the threat of #COVIDー So let’s get moving, Pakistan. We can do it!”

It is yet to be seen if the government follows Khawaja Asif’s advice and adopts an interesting policy proposed by Mr. Husain.