With 265,791 confirmed cases and 5,631 deaths, the response of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to Covid19 has been abysmal. According to a recent fact-finding study released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) “the pandemic has eroded people’s trust in, and respect for, ruling institutions and the governing elite. The health emergency has exacerbated existing structural discrimination and inequalities and laid bare misplaced socioeconomic priorities.”
The HRCP study “demands that parliamentary oversight be restored immediately to all decision-making related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The government’s overall response has been marred by inconsistent messaging at the top, which must be rectified by ensuring that the federal and provincial governments present a united front in this time of crisis. HRCP also stresses that the rights of the vulnerable and marginalised must be at the centre of all efforts related to pandemic prevention, containment, and treatment—not only in this instance but as a matter of principle and policy in the long term.”
The HRCP recommendations include reviving economic activity by “generating demand and avoiding any downsizing,” and “make resources available for employment generation and wider, more effectual social protection, the government must realise the urgent need to cut back on redundant government divisions and departments and non-combat defence expenditure.”
HRCP study recommended a public health strategy based “around preventive healthcare. Adequate personal protective equipment must be made available to all frontline workers, including janitorial staff, at all levels. In the short term, the government must fill vacant positions in the provincial health service systems and arrange to use district hospitals for quarantine and isolation.”
The detailed study is available here.