With a mix of pandemic denialism and exceptionalism, Pakistan makes a cynical bet on the coronavirus
With Pakistan being the fifth most populous country in the world, COVID-19 cases have risen beyond 91,000 cases as of June 5. Since the country’s lockdown order from the provincial government in March, they have since exerted a mix of pandemic denialism and exceptionalism, hurtling toward a more open Sweden-like approach to the virus.
The lockdown fell apart first in mosques at the beginning of Ramadan in late April, as the government caved to demands of the country’s Muslim scholars (ulema). From there, it unraveled in markets in the last two weeks of Ramadan, where traders had had enough. Then malls, which the country’s Supreme Court ordered to reopen in the days before the Eid festival at the end of May, saying in a remarkable statement that it saw no reason why the coronavirus, “which apparently is not a pandemic in Pakistan, is swallowing so [much] money.”
Pakistan’s daily cases have never plateaued or started declining, and recent days have seen successive highs in terms of new cases recorded daily (4,000 a day for the past few days).
Madiha Afzal of Brookings discusses the causes for concern within Pakistan in a recent article: http://www.asiascot.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/With-a-mix-of-pandemic-denialism-and-exceptionalism-Pakistan-makes-a-cynical-bet-on-the-coronavirus.pdf