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Don’t play politics on dengue

In the wake of the recent outbreak of dengue fever in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, office bearers in the province have been reported to reach out to experts in Punjab for their help in dealing with the deadly virus. It is important to remember that dengue had been lurking in KP for the past few weeks before accelerating into an emergency, recently.

Of course, the inability of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to tackle the issue before it got out of hand – and its officials’ choice to call out to Shehbaz Sharif for help instead of looking up to the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf’s leadership –  are questions of grave concern. However, these are questions that can take the back seat for now. Reports suggest that, as of Tuesday, August 22, 2017, over 1,000 cases of dengue fever have been reported in Peshawar alone, and that the disease has been recently claiming one life per day in the city.

After being called for help, the Punjab government has seemingly set aside political differences to lend help to its KP counterparts, in the garb of what it calls the “Karwan-e-Sehat campaign”.  Under this “campaign”, the Punjab Health Department has provided the KP government with three mobile health units that cater to patients 24/7.

While given the political climate, and given the vile political temperament prevalent in our country since its birth, one would rightly expect the Punjab government to cash in on the situation and berate the KP government for its incompetence in dealing with the dengue crisis effectively. This, especially since the Tehrik-i-Insaf chief had previously attempted to score political points in 2011 when Punjab was hit by a deadly wave of dengue, naming the Sharif brothers the “Dengue Brothers”. Couple this with the fact that the people of KP, themselves, have reportedly turned to slating Imran Khan – raising the slogan of “Go Imran Go” – there is little grace one can expect from their political rivals, PML-N.

Rest assured,

our country’s volatile and unethical political environment

would provide the PML-N with plenty of opportunities

to take a crack at the PTI in later times.

Even so, while cashing in on a situation like this is very much expected in our country – very unfortunately – it is by no means the ethical thing to do. I hope our politicians still remember what ethics are? They keep us from scoring points on dead bodies and deadly diseases. The Punjab government needs to remember that the dengue outbreak is no suitable time for them to advertise their administrative competency, especially when contrasted sharply by that of the KP government. It should – as it has done so far – lend its expertise on this front to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department without making a huge deal out of it.

Since the initial outbreak of the virus in the country’s largest province in 2011, the Punjab government has surely learnt to deal with it effectively – both administratively and in terms of caregiving – loosening the grip of the disease on the province significantly in recent years. The government’s modus operandi included, firstly, methods of prevention, and secondly, introducing effective measures to deal with the disease once contracted by a patient. Given this fact, there should be no shame involved in asking a tactically superior administration for its help on any given front, and we must laud the KP officials for setting aside their political differences and egos, putting human life first, and reaching out to the more experienced Punjab government for help – if only their leadership would show similar grace. The Punjab government must also, therefore, reciprocate in a similar manner – setting all political differences and egos aside.

It is, as they say, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Even if Imran Khan has (frequently) lacked grace when addressing the Sharif Brothers in the past, this is no time for the latter to hit back and level the scores, when so many human lives are at stake. Rest assured, our country’s volatile and unethical political environment would provide the PML-N with plenty of opportunities to take a crack at the PTI in later times.

Sardar, Khursheed. Don’t play politics on dengue. Pakistan Today, August 23, 2017.

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