Since its outbreak in Wuhan China, much has been written on Coronavirus. Its causes, symptoms, treatment, and impact on health, economy, trade, communication, and contributions toward de-globalization have been the most reverberated topics amongst the intelligentsia.
But here, we need to go a step further. How this pandemic is exposing the moral degeneration of our society should be the concern of our nation.
From hoarding of a surgical mask to unabated price hikes of diagnostic tests and the adamant behavior of the government on all administrative malpractices to turning a blind eye on the smuggling of personal protective equipment, everything shows the shallowness of our moral values.
Nations become great by the actions they take to ease the sufferings of humanity during the time of crises not by glorifying their sham, fictitious and quasi past. In national disasters and epidemics, the real strength of a nation becomes known to the world.
Italy is doomed right now and the reason is that delayed the lock down. I request you all Pakistanis to please make your own videos on social media and pressurize this government to enforce #lockdownpakistan, otherwise we will be doomed as well
— Dr Ayesha (@Dr_AyeshaNavid) March 21, 2020
How a nation beats the difficult time shows the strength of its civilization, diversity of its culture, veracity of its history, the sturdiness of its moral values, and the invincibility of its internal structure. You might have seen an eighty-four years old lady in Zhenjiang province who donated her life savings to fight Coronavirus.
Read more: Coronavirus fear: What does Holy Qur’an say?
In China, 80849 cases have been reported so far with death tolls of 3199. Ninety-five percent of the patients have been recovered. The only reason behind their success is that they fought like a nation because there were no venal factory owners, no greedy shopkeeper, no hoarder, and no apathetic opportunists.
Now come to our beloved country.
Being lagged in every field of life from the developed countries, expecting to fight this pandemic by preparing a vaccine domestically is just nothing more than a utopian dream. Nevertheless, like everyone, Syed Zahid Hussain Shah has every right to dream. His dream, his choice but we should take it as a problem to manage not a problem to resolve. The surgical mask which is considered a shield against the virus has become a rare commodity in our country.
The prices increased by almost a thousand percent. A shopkeeper told media that a box of ordinary masks which was sold at the price 300 is now being sold for more than 2000. Exploiting such extreme situations for minuscule vested benefits has become a norm in our society and it is not the first time we are facing such wickedness.
This time, Corona has exposed the shallowness of our social values. The moral degeneration of our society is making the state more vulnerable to such disasters.
The story does not end here. Following its outbreak in Pakistan, private hospitals and labs started testing of suspected patients with exorbitant charges. They charge 7900 rupees for a test while the government is sleeping as usual.
Instead of taking action against the mafia, the government has grabbled with its responsibility by giving free advice on adopting precautionary measures instead. While the most alarming thing is that none of these hospitals and labs are equipped with facilities to test for Coronavirus.
Special Assistant to PM on Health said on Friday “We will send the samples to China, Nederland, and the US for confirmation.” The general populace is at the mercy of ruthless opportunists while the state institutions are at hibernation.
A recently muckraked story has further added fuel to the fire. It is alleged that special advisor to PM on health Dr. Zafar Mirza along with drug regulatory authority allowed the smuggling of face masks and other personal protective equipment for the vested interests. The complaint filed by Dr. Furqan Ibrahim, representative of Pakistan Young Pharmacist Association.
According to him, twenty million masks were smuggled. However, a spokesperson of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) responded that masks were allowed to export at the request of the Chinese embassy to stop the further spread of the coronavirus. The case is under investigation by FIA.
However, until the truth comes, the opportunists under this pretext will charge exorbitant prices of all personal protective equipment.
The measures taken by the government to stop the further spread of the virus are superfluous and provisional. Despite the adverse economic fallouts, the closure of educational institutes, shopping malls, marriage halls, and ban on public and religious gatherings, borders closure and not allowing spectators to PSL matches are praiseworthy but not sufficient.
The government needs to take stern measures to ensure the availability of face masks, infrastructure development of public hospitals, provide testing equipment facilities at both public and private hospitals, develop a mechanism of availability of medicines, and prohibit the smuggling of all personal protective equipment to the neighboring countries.
However, the government alone cannot fight against the pandemic; we as a nation must view it as a moral mandate.
The Chinese political, legal, social, administrative and moral system has almost succeeded to deter the pandemic. While it is successfully exposing the shallowness of our every system. Our covetousness, apathy, and dilapidation of social norms are evidence that we as a nation are not ready to withstand such pandemics.
The reason behind the success of China is its proactive administrative structure backed by the morally alive nation.
Corona is a small challenge to nations with high moral values. Only nations are vulnerable to it whose moral, social and ethical values are degenerated to such a level where even sanctity of dead bodies is not protected.
Syed Usama Shirazi is a freelance columnist based in Islamabad. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.