Pakistan is fighting a dengue outbreak. More than 10,000 people have been infected and at least 20 have died so far. But these figures have been provided by government officials, so there is every reason to believe there could be many more affected or those that might have died. The Imran Khan government, living up to its reputation, has been unable to deal with the outbreak effectively because it wasn’t prepared for the dengue season before it set in.
However, the government tells us that it is not their fault that the dengue situation is alarming. We are told we can’t blame the government. If Pakistan’s cities have roads with puddles of water, overflowing gutters, improper sanitation and non-existent garbage collection in various constituencies, then who should the people blame if not their leaders?
After all, it was Imran Khan who taught us that when things are not working fine, understand that your corrupt leaders are the reason. Leaders of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) would call Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif “dengue brothers”; while Imran Khan himself had the best solution when the epidemic was on the rise in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2017: When winters start, dengue cases will disappear on their own. How prophetic! We are glad that the prime minister’s solution to contain dengue didn’t involve asking Pakistanis to stand for thirty minutes daily.
But PM Khan’s focus couldn’t possibly have been on the dengue situation. There is so much riding on Khan’s ‘Mission Kashmir’ that even mentioning the word dengue could mean that the person is conspiring against him when he was all set to deliver his speech at the United Nations.
‘All is well’ in Pakistan
Imran Khan and his government have been blessed with what is called “positive reporting”, an idea that might resonate with “all izz well”. During Imran Khan government’s first year of rule, the media, under severe censorship, looked the other way when it came to reporting on the incompetence and lack of direction that resulted in several U-turns.
So, all is well. Inflation has touched 10.49 per cent in 2018 – but all is well. About a million people lost their jobs in the last fiscal while four million were pushed into poverty – but all is well. A total of 66 cases of polio have been reported in Pakistan this year, up from 12 cases last year, and there is no clear policy on how the government plans to address the issue or even stop polio vaccinators and health workers from getting attacked due to ‘mistrust’ among people. But all is well.
It wasn’t always so. When Imran Khan was in the opposition, all wasn’t well with Pakistan, we were told. Everything – from the legislature to the executive to the judiciary – was wrong. But suddenly, everything has fallen into place, so much so that the prime minister feels he can be “more worried about India right now than probably even Pakistan”. Yes, that’s true. He is worried about India. Lucky you, India; you can have a leader who can forget nearly all of his problems for you. Critics have asked the PM to “first worry about his country”, but what is there to worry when all is well?
Everything everywhere is well – except in Kashmir, because Kashmir still hasn’t become a part of Pakistan.
Not Pakistan’s PM anymore
Imran Khan is done being the prime minister of Pakistan. He is now the ambassador of Kashmir, the wannabe mediator of Saudi Arabia-Iran-United States conflict, and the leader that the world looks up to. Just when and why he becomes all of these, we are not told. Looking at the current issues Pakistan has with its three neighbours India, Afghanistan and Iran, the prospects of Imran Khan becoming a world leader don’t look bright enough. Last year, he wanted to resolve the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. But that was last year; PM Khan now has new resolution opportunities. It’s a different matter that PM Khan doesn’t even shake hands with the opposition leaders in Parliament, let alone deal with issues concerning Pakistan or resolve disputes between other nations.
We were told we should be proud that the prime minister of our country was going to raise the Kashmir issue in the United Nations like no other Pakistani leader ever had before. The only thing we weren’t reminded of was how every Pakistani leader had told us the same thing before they went out on their customary UN outing. Kashmir and Palestine have always found place in the UN speeches of those who came before Khan – Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari – and likely will in speeches of those who will come after him. It’s the ride every leader of Pakistan gets to take. But no Pakistani leader will go to the UN and tell them about their plans. Because there is no plan. In the end, they will just come back home disappointed. Like Imran Khan has.
It seems for now we have to settle with a prime minister who, after successfully creating a Naya Pakistan, is now busy becoming a world leader. Let those suffering from dengue know that they are on their own with fluctuating platelet counts.
The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.