In the mounting (and orchestrated) crescendo against democracy and politicians, and through them, politics in general, let us not be afraid to appreciate the good that democratic governments, which are constantly being pilloried, do, too. And taking the bull by the horns, just because certain politicians and wannabe politicians have tried to make capital out of the terrible dengue outbreak last year, and the havoc it wreaked by taking many lives (across the economic divide, please note), let us first acknowledge the success of the Punjab government in tackling a catastrophe born of a new and barely known phenomenon that suddenly hit the country in 2011.
Why did I think of writing about this matter? I was driving through Gaddafi Stadium the other day and just as I turned towards the Gulberg gate, I saw on my right, brand, spanking new vehicles with anti-dengue slogans written on them and people in uniforms standing by. I stopped and had a chat with them. The anti-dengue staff of the health department were well versed in what their duties were, at least two of them having been trained in Thailand and Sri Lanka, respectively, very recently. I then tried to find out more and rang the Punjab secretary information, a bright and helpful young man who immediately got back to me with tables and comparative statements compiled by the Punjab government.
Without going into the nitty gritty of the steps taken, it should suffice for even the most cynical among us to look at the number of cases in the three most critical years: in 2010, there were 5,693 cases causing eight deaths; in 2011, the year the epidemic really hit us badly, 21,292 cases and, sadly, 354 deaths. In 2012, due to the great effort put in by all the departments of the government, which were pressed into service, including the revenue and irrigation departments, there were just 263 cases with no deaths. If this is not a huge success, I don’t know what is.
It is important, too, to appreciate the services of all those who waged this successful fight against this awful viral infection and got to its root cause, the mosquito that carries the dengue virus: the civil servants who lead the departments, principally the health department; their staff; and the people in the ‘front line’ so to say: the men and women who worked at spraying and sensitising the people to the hazards of dengue.
Also, and because we censure political leaders for their perceived acts of omission and commission at the drop of a hat, we should also appreciate their services when in the apparent public good. Shahbaz Sharif, directly blamed for every wrong that happens in Punjab by his detractors, should be appreciated, too, for overseeing untiringly this fight against dengue. He was known to have been on his rounds not only of the city worst-affected, Lahore, but also others in the province.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we are killing fellow Muslims in the name of sectarianism; bhatta; terrorism; whatever, even Qazi Hussain Ahmed, former chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami, being targeted by a female suicide bomber in an area he considers his party’s stronghold.
Typically, Qazi Sahib continues to live in denial, putting the blame as usual on the CIA/RAW/MOSSAD combined for the attack on him in Mohmand Agency, Fata, (nominally) Pakistan. And this in spite of the Tehreeke-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) putting Qazi Sahib on its hit list since the summer of this year for an interview in which he had said that the Afghan Taliban were fighting a ‘jihad’ while the TTP were not.
One has long written that the menace of coldblooded, well thought out terrorism can never be fixed until all Pakistanis, especially the political leaders of the country, are on the same page: that this is a fight to the finish. Either the Pakistani state survives or the Taliban and their helpers, the fifth-columnists who are from within us. The Taliban are not doing what they are doing because Isaf is in Afghanistan, they have said a 100 times that they do not believe in electoral politics and want to establish a caliphate in Pakistan and Afghanistan from where the global jihad will take off.
Why is this so difficult to understand? Especially in light of the fact that the Deep State is sending out leaks that it is having second thoughts about the asinine ‘strategic depth’ and other such? As a Pakistani, I can only hope and pray to God it is serious and is not merely throwing the world another red herring.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2012.