Saturday, April 18, 2020

#DailyShow #TrevorNoah #WithUs Trump Attacks the WHO & Kellyanne Can’t Count to COVID-19 | The Daily Social Distancing Show

Video Report - Sanctions-hit Iran gambles on partial Covid-19 lockdown exit

Video Report - #IMF #Coronavirus : COVID-19 crisis will cost economy $9 trillion over two years

#TogetherAtHome - Operation reopen America: Are we about to witness a second historic failure of leadership from Trump?

By Ed Pilkington and Dominic Rushe
Without mass testing, contact tracing, and protective equipment for health workers – all in critically short supply – the president’s plan could be disastrous.
On Thursday evening, Donald Trump took to the dais in the White House press briefing room and declared that he was leading America in a “historic battle against the invisible enemy” that amounted to the “greatest national mobilisation since world war two”.

Warming to his theme, the US president said the country was now ready to move to the next phase in the war against coronavirus. It was time, he said, “to open up. America wants to be open, and Americans want to be open”.
Unveiling new guidelines for the loosening of the lockdown, he committed his administration to a “science-based reopening”. He added: “We are starting our life again, we are starting rejuvenation of our economy again, in a safe and structured and very responsible fashion.”
Beyond the cloistered confines of the White House an alternative interpretation of events was gathering force. On a day in which the US suffered its highest death toll from Covid-19, with a total of more than 680,000 confirmed cases and 34,000 deaths, public health experts were scrutinising the president’s new guidelines and coming to rather different conclusions.
“This isn’t a plan, it’s barely a PowerPoint,” spluttered Ron Klain on Twitter. Klain, the US government’s Ebola tsar during the last health crisis to test the White House, in 2014, said the proposals contained “no provision to ramp up testing, no standard on levels of disease before opening, no protections for workers or customers”.
On 28 March the Guardian exposed the missing six weeks lost as a result of Trump’s dithering and downplaying of the crisis when the virus first struck. Jeremy Konyndyk, another central figure in the US battle against Ebola, told the Guardian that the Trump administration’s initial response was “one of the greatest failures of basic governance and leadership in modern times”. Now that the US is contemplating a shift into the second phase of the crisis – a tentative reopening of the economy – scientists and public health officials are agreed that three pillars need to be put into place to manage the transition safely.

They are: mass testing to identify those who are infected, contact tracing to isolate other people who may have caught Covid-19 from them, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to shield frontline healthcare workers from any flare-up. A chorus of expert voices has also begun to be heard warning that those three essential pillars remain in critically short supply throughout the US. Less than a month after the Guardian’s exploration of the missing six weeks, the chilling recognition is dawning that the country is heading for a second massive failure of governance under Trump, this time on an even bigger scale.

 Unless testing capability is dramatically ramped up and a giant army of health workers assembled to trace the contacts of those infected – right now – the consequences could be devastating.

“I’m fearful,” said Dr Tom Frieden, the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Testing remains scarce in many parts of the country and it’s slow to scale up – we are weeks if not months away from having enough test capacity.”
Frieden, who now heads the global health initiative Resolve to Save Lives, told the Guardian in an interview conducted shortly before Trump released the new reopening guidelines that time was being wasted. The federal government’s misplaced insistence in February that its China travel ban would be enough to make the virus go away had “lost precious weeks” in tackling the first wave of coronavirus.
We wasted February, and I’m worried we’re about to waste April too.
Jeremy Konyndyk, a key figure in the Ebola fight.
Now, as the US contemplates reopening, Frieden said he was afraid a repeat performance was imminent.
“I fear there’s an analogous mistaken belief that sheltering in place will make this virus go away, that we can then choose a date and all come out. It’s not about the date, it’s about data and building a national response at scale.”
In a series of tweets posted in reaction to the new White House guidelines, Konyndyk echoed the anxiety about more lost weeks. He said the Trump administration had “wasted February, and the White House guidance on ‘opening up’ leaves me worried that we’re about to waste April too”.
Konyndyk said that for states to reopen before they were ready “would be a disaster. It’s no great insight to say we need more testing, tracing, PPE [protective gear for health workers] – it’s been obvious for a month and a half. But each of those face huge bottlenecks and the document doesn’t acknowledge them, much less propose how to resolve them.”
Trump, launching the new reopening guidelines on Thursday, insisted that the US was in “excellent shape” on testing. “We have great tests. We have done more testing now than any country, in the world, by far.”
Trump says we have the best testing, but the US is in the last percentage of tests administered to its population
Michael Greenberger, University of Maryland
The US has so far tested about 3.3 million people, about 1% of its population. Per capita, that is small compared with several countries including Germany and South Korea. Iceland has tested people at 10 times the US rate.
“Testing has been an unnecessary disaster,” said Michael Greenberger, director of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security. “Trump says we have the best testing, but the US is in the last percentage of tests administered to its population.”
Not one of the 50 states is currently in a position to carry out tracking of Covid-19 infections on the scale needed, whatever Trump said about their readiness to reopen. Many states, including the hardest hit, New York, are still experiencing testing shortages, 12 weeks after the first US case was recorded.
Individual states continue to have to compete for critical supplies against each other, and against the federal government, driving up prices. Components including nasal swabs, reagents and RNA extraction kits are running short.
Daily testing has flattened out and is now hovering around 150,000 tests a day – vastly below the level that would be needed to detect localized pockets of disease as the economy reopens. Most alarmingly, the number of tests carried out by commercial labs has actually plummeted in recent days due to shortages in test samples, leaving the labs sitting idle.
At the White House briefing, Trump insisted that the phenomenon of the idle labs was a “great thing”, a sign that states were finding local solutions and an “affirmation that testing is growing at a historic rate”.
All of these impediments have put the US on the back foot as it seeks to pull off the daunting feat of getting back to work without risking a renewed surge of contagion.
“We have had cases circulating in communities undetected for several weeks, and because of the delay in the roll-out of testing we never had the chance to be on top of it,” said Anita Cicero. She is joint author of one of the most definitive scientific plans for reopening the US, produced by a team from the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University.
“That means it’s going to require much more ubiquitous testing,” she said.
Estimates vary on how much testing will be needed, but they are all substantially greater than present provision. Even at the lower end, as posited by the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb, some 2m to 3m tests a day are recommended – up to three times the current level.
Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics argues that is too few. It calls for tens of millions of tests every day, way beyond existing capacity.

The states are not islands. Their borders are not closed.

Anita Cicero, Johns Hopkins University
As the Johns Hopkins plan makes clear, diagnostic testing is only the start. It must be combined with relentless detective work, called “contact tracing”, to track down anyone who has come into contact with an infected person and who may need quarantining to stop the virus spreading again.
The Johns Hopkins plan envisages a nationwide army of 100,000 contact tracers. “That might sound eye-popping, but it’s reasonable and may be a low estimate,” Cicero said, pointing out that in Wuhan, China, the authorities employed a workforce three times the size per capita.
With contact tracing, too, there is no sign that Trump recognizes the urgency of the moment. Frieden told the Guardian that many states were already struggling to ramp up contact tracing to a level that would support reopening. Health departments are overwhelmed, and some have “trouble even conceiving the scale of operations they are going to need”, he said.
Faced with a wide gap between nationwide demand for testing and contact tracing and insufficient supply, Trump has flip-flopped in his positions. He began by insisting that he had “absolute authority” to overrule the states in deciding when to reopen, a posture widely denounced as king-like and anti-American.
On Thursday he effected an about-turn and passed the buck to the 50 states. “You are going to call your own shots,” he told governors on a call on Thursday.
Trump’s sudden switch to offloading federal responsibility to the 50 states has prompted questions about his motive. Current and former senior officials in the Trump administration told the Washington Post that he wanted to “shield himself from blame should there be new outbreaks after states reopen”.
The former head of Medicare and Medicaid from 2015 to 2017, Andy Slavitt, commented on Twitter that the White House guidelines were sending a clear message to the states: “Your state didn’t open, that’s on your governor. Your state opened and people died, that’s on your governor.”
Trump attempted to sell the idea of devolving responsibility by presenting his vision of America as a “beautiful puzzle”. He said: “I call it a beautiful puzzle. You have 50 pieces. All very different. But when it’s done … a very beautiful picture.”
A “beautiful puzzle” may be an appealing concept to the incumbent of the Oval Office in an election year. But it fits uncomfortably with a virus that is highly contagious, relatively deadly, and dismissive of state boundaries.
“The states are not islands, their borders are not closed and they do not have water around them,” Cicero said. “So it will be a bumpy road going forward in terms of managing the virus.”
States still held in the grip of the contagion, such as New York, are finding it difficult to accept the idea that the buck stops with them in a country with the most powerful national government on Earth. New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has repeatedly called on the Trump administration to do more to help.
“I understand that the federal government’s not eager to get involved in testing. But the plain reality here is we have to do it in partnership,” he said on Thursday.
At Trump’s disposal is the formidable wartime power of the Defense Production Act, which allows the administration to order corporations to redirect their efforts to the cause of fighting Covid-19. So far the president has deployed this capability only sparingly.

I’m moved and crushed by what’s happening in New York right now
Tom Frieden, former CDC head
The president said there were 29 states which are in “extremely good shape” and could reopen soon, some “literally tomorrow”. He declined to name them, though it has been reported that several Republican governors are champing at the bit to loosen lockdowns.
Florida, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi are at the head of the line, according to Axios. Florida began to reopen its beaches on Friday, a controversial move given that the late closure of its beaches during spring break helped spread Covid-19 across the US.
The danger of Trump’s “beautiful puzzle” approach is illustrated by New York City, where the death toll is heartwrenching. The probable tally of deaths from Covid-19 in the city now stands at more than 11,000 – more than double the normal monthly loss of life from all other causes.
“I’m moved and crushed by what’s happening in New York right now,” said Frieden, who until 2009 was the city’s health commissioner.
About 10,000 New Yorkers a day are currently being tested for coronavirus. Mark Levine, chair of New York City council’s health committee, told the Guardian that the frequency would need to be stepped up twentyfold were the city to have a fighting chance at reopening.
Yet even now New York is just days away from running out of testing kits.
Levine said he worries that the window for federal action is rapidly closing. “Trump has the authority to order manufacturers to retool to produce test kits. Unless the White House issues the order immediately, we are going to be out of time.”

Opinion: Trump Is Asking Us to Play Russian Roulette With Our Lives

By Thomas L. Friedman
Are we really going to bet that we can go back to life as normal without proper coronavirus tracking in place?
With these three short tweets last week, President Trump attempted to kick off the post-lockdown phase of America’s coronavirus crisis. It should be called: “American Russian roulette: The Covid-19 version.’’
What Trump was saying with those tweets was: Everybody just go back to work. From now on, each of us individually, and our society collectively, is going to play Russian roulette. We’re going to bet that we can spin through our daily lives — work, shopping, school, travel — without the coronavirus landing on us. And if it does, we’ll also bet that it won’t kill us.
More specifically: As a society, we will be betting that as large numbers of people stop sheltering in place, the number of people who will still get infected with Covid-19 and require hospitalization will be less than the number of hospital beds, intensive care units, respirators, doctors, nurses and protective gear needed to take care of them.
Because it is clear that millions of Americans are going to stop sheltering in place — their own President is now urging them to liberate themselves — before we have a proper testing, tracking and tracing system set up. Until we have a vaccine, that kind of system is the only path to dramatically lowering the risk of infection while partially opening society — while also protecting the elderly and infirm — as Germany has demonstrated.
And as individuals, every person will be playing Russian roulette every minute of every day: Do I get on this crowded bus to go to work or not? What if I get on the subway and the person next to me is not wearing gloves and a mask? What if they sneeze? Do I get in the elevator at the office if there is another person on it? Do I go into the office lunchroom or not? Do I stop for a drink at this bar, where the stools are six feet apart, or that crowded one my friends chose? Do I use this toilet or that drinking fountain? Do I send my kid back to school or not? Do I stay in a hotel? Ride an airplane? Let the plumber in? Do I go to the doctor to check that strange lump or not?
What will be so cruel about this American version of Russian roulette is how unfair it will be. Some people will have no choice but to take the subway or the bus to work. Some people will have to send their kids back to school because they can’t afford to stay home from work. Some bosses will demand that their employees show up to reopen their workplace, but some of those employees may be afraid to come back. Do you fire them? Do they bring a lawsuit against you if you do, or do they go on Twitter and post a picture of how closely together you forced them to work — six inches apart, not six feet?
This is the state of play when you have a president who one minute is responsibly issuing sober guidelines for when and how people should go back to work, and the next minute is telling states that they are responsible for getting the testing, tracking and tracing units that we need in place and then, in the third minute, is inciting people on Twitter to “liberate” their workplaces, cities and beaches — even though none of the conditions are in place to do so safely.
“Liberate”? Think about the use of that word. We were not in jail! We were not doing something wrong! We were doing what our president, governor, mayor, and national epidemic experts told us to do: behave responsibly and shelter in place to break the transmission of this virus.
Trump was cynically trying to curry favor with his base by implying that the Democratic governors, following his own national guidelines, were unfairly locking people up, depriving them of their livelihoods. Is there anything more irresponsible that this president could do, after weeks of complimenting the American people for how they pulled together and sacrificed to shelter in place — patriotically doing their part to bend the curve of this virus?
So, folks, forget about all those White House briefings. You don’t have to tune in another day. When the president is calling on governors to “let their people go” before comprehensive testing facilities are in place, he is basically saying that, until there is a vaccine, we are betting on herd immunity. Achieving herd immunity requires that more than two-thirds of a community be immune, a process that could involve many more deaths, if proper preparations are not in place.
That may work out for some places and people. It may not. I do not know. Every choice in dealing with this virus is fraught with huge tradeoffs between saving lives and saving the economy that sustains lives. I just know three things:
First, this is the bet Trump is urging you to make in his “liberate” tweets — when he should be ordering out the National Guard and mobilizing American industry to get testing everywhere.
Second, this bet will fall very unfairly and unevenly in our society, when so little testing and tracing is in place.
And third, if this is the future, every business, restaurant, hotel, theater, sporting facility, factory, nonprofit and government office needs to ask itself: What does my business look like when, on the best days, the responsible people coming to my door will be wearing a mask, gloves, distancing six feet apart and volunteering to have their temperature taken before they enter, and the irresponsible ones won’t be? How do I handle that? Whom do I serve? What kind of business will I really have? Because that will be our economy until we have a vaccine or have established herd immunity.
Bottom line, my fellow Americans: Your president is telling you that you’re on your own to make these decisions. And if this strategy works, you can be sure that he will take credit. And if it doesn’t, you can be sure that he will tweet that it was all Anthony Fauci’s idea.

Music Video - Lokan do do yaar banaye - Afshan Zebi

Video Report - Taliban Regrouping In Pakistan's Tribal Areas - طالبان پھر سے قبائلی علاقوں میں جمع ہو رہے ہیں‎

راشن کیلئے جاری کردہ رقم میں سے کراچی کے ایک لاکھ سے زائدمستحقین گھرانوں کو جبکہ سندھ بھر میں 3.5 لاکھ گھرانوں کو راشن فراہم کیاجاچکا ہے#COVIDー19

سندھ کے وزیر توانائی امتیاز احمد شیخ نے کہا ہے کہ کرونا وائرس سے بچاؤ کے لئے کئے گئے لاک ڈاؤن کے دوران مستحقین میں راشن تقسیم کے لئے سندھ حکومت نے 1.08 ارب روپے ریلیز کئے اس رقم میں سے ابتک کراچی کے مستحقین میں راشن کے ایک لاکھ تھیلے جبکہ صوبے بھر میں 3.5 لاکھ سے زائد غریب اور نادار گھرانوں کو ان کی دہلیز پر راشن پہنچایا گیا ہے۔
امتیاز احمد شیخ نے کہا ہے کہ وزیر اعلیٰ سندھ سید مراد علی شاہ صوبے کے غریب ،نادار اور مستحق عوام کو ان کی دہلیز تک راشن پہنچانے کے لئے پرعزم ہیں اور اس سارے عمل کی نگرانی بھی کررہے ہیں۔
امتیاز احمد شیخ نے کہا کہ راشن کی تقسیم کسی بھی قسم کے سیاسی عمل دخل سے پاک ہے اور راشن تقسیم کا سارا کام متعلقہ ڈپٹی کمشنرز اپنی ضلعئی کمیٹیوں کی مشاورت اور معاونت سے کررہے ہیں۔
اپوزیشن کی جانب سے لگائے گئے ایک الزام کہ ڈپٹی کمشنرز بدانتظامی کے مرتکب ہوئے ہیں کے جواب میں صوبائی وزیر نے جواب دیتے ہوئے کہا ہے کہ اگر ایسی بات ہے تو پھر وفاقی حکومت نے احساس پروگرام کی رقوم کی ترسیل کی زمہ داری ان ہی ڈپٹی کمشنرز کے سپرد کیوں کی؟
امتیاز احمد شیخ نے کہا کہ سندھ حکومت کی جانب سے مستحقین کو راشن کی تقسیم کا عمل مکمل طور پر شفاف رکھنے کی بھرپور کوشش کی گئی ہے تاہم جہاں کہیں بھی کوئی جائز شکایت ملے گی اس کا ازالہ بھی کیاجائے گا اور زمہ داروں کے خلاف کاروائی بھی کی جائے گی۔
انہوں نے کہا کہ سندھ میں 28 دن سے جاری لاک ڈاؤن میں روزمرہ کی بنیاد پر روزی کمانے والوں اور غریبوں اور ناداروں کی تکالیف کا حکومت کو بھرپور ادراک اور احساس ہے لیکن کرونا وائرس سے بچاؤ کی ابتک کی سب سے بہتر تدبیر لاک ڈاؤن ہی ہے اس وجہ سے ہمیں مجبوراً لاک ڈاؤن جیسے اس مشکل اقدام کا سہارا لینا پڑ رہا ہے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ کرونا سے صرف ہم ہی نہیں بلکہ پوری دنیا متاثر اور پریشان ہے اور اس سے بچنے کے لئے سب نے ہی لاک ڈاؤن کی تدبیر اختیار کی ہے۔
انہوں نے کہا کہ سندھ حکومت نے لاک ڈاؤن کا فیصلہ خوشی سے برقرار نہیں رکھا ہوا بلکہ ماہر ڈاکٹرز کی ایک پوری ٹیم سے روزانہ کی بنیاد پر ملنے والی تجاویز اور مشوروں کی روشنی میں سندھ حکومت فیصلہ کرتی ہے ۔ انہوں نے زور دے کر کہا کہ لاک ڈاؤن کسی فرد واحد کا فیصلہ نہیں ہے بلکہ یہ ماہرین طب کی اجتماعی دانش کا فیصلہ ہے۔
امتیاز احمد شیخ نے کہا کہ مارکیٹیں کھولنے سے پیدا ہونے والے ہجوم میں اگر تیزی سے وائرس پھیلا تو صورتحال سنگین ہوسکتی ہے اس لیے سندھ حکومت اس سلسلے میں کوئی بھی فیصلہ مکمل مشاورت کے بعد ہی کرے گی۔
انہوں نے کہا کہ سندھ حکومت کرونا کے خلاف فرنٹ لائن پر لڑنے والے اپنے ڈاکٹروں اور پیرامیڈیکل اسٹاف کو حفاظتی کٹس اور دیگر 
ضروری طبی سامان و آلات و ادویات کی فراہمی کے لئے ہر ممکن اقدامات عمل میں لارہی یے۔ 

Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari talks to British High Commissioner to Pakistan regarding COVID-19

 Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari spoke to British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dr Christian Turner in an effort to share information about the Coronavirus pandemic, and especially about British-Pakistani victims of the disease.

In a telephonic conversation, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the Sindh government was the first in the country to have taken swift action by closing down educational institutions and subsequently initiating a strict lockdown, after gauging the substantial threat. He also thanked the UK for DFID support to Pakistan in the fight against COVID19, and appreciated the High Commissioner’s role in facilitating the return of overseas Pakistanis.

Dr Turner appreciated the timely efforts taken by the Sindh government, and both stressed the need for global cooperation and coordination, to save human lives from the deadly virus.

Coronavirus: People Want Restoration of Mobile Internet in Balochistan

By: Aziz Ejaz
All the cases of coronavirus in Balochistan have been reported in the pilgrims, who recently came from Iran after performing their religious rituals. Despite these cases, there isn’t any case that got reported in the public, but amidst the insufficient and alarming strategies, it is feared that there can be a rapid increase and will spread among the masses of Balochistan, especially in Quetta, where the pilgrims are quarantined.
Meanwhile, the cases are spiking, and the government is requesting people to avoid socialization, to create social distances, to self-quarantine and public awareness campaigns to be arranged in the outskirts of the city. There came a demand from the social activists that as the virus requires social distancing amidst the situation, only the internet can be useful in spreading social awareness. But the suspension of the internet services in most of the districts like Kalat, Surab, Awaran, Turbat, and Panjgur, has created an issue in communicating with people in order to let them know what preventative measures and precautions are needed to be taken.
Most of the people especially from the districts where internet services are suspended are demanding its restoration. As far as the situation is concerned, the porous borders of district Kech and Panjgur have made the locals more prone and vulnerable to the spread of novel Coronavirus, because of the untimely actions by the administrative authorities.
Other than Panjgur and Kech having the porous borders, there was news the coastal regions Jiwani and Pasni, via the sea are being utilized by the people to enter Balochistan. An inhabitant through social media doubted the actions and blamed the Balochistan government for having failed in dealing with the plague.
The areas with suspended internet services have been greatly deprived, as it has been years the services are non-functional. In accordance with the demands of the public, the serious case of n-Covid-19 requires internet restoration for communication purposes to allow people to connect to the most updated precautionary measures. It is the responsibility of the telecommunication authorities to look at the matter and fulfill the demand of people in a very serious time like this.

#Pakistan - Leadership matters

 Ayesha Ijaz Khan
WHEN deciding who is stronger or more skilled, the English language has an expression that talks about separating the men from the boys. But when it comes to global management of the coronavirus, it may be more accurate to separate the men from the women. Three countries — Germany, New Zealand and Taiwan — have stood out in their handling of the global pandemic. Is it a coincidence that all three are currently run by women?
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is a scientist by training. Her rational and informed decision-making in this time of crisis has led to Germany having one of the lowest fatality rates for the virus, 1.6 per cent. Compare that with 12pc in Italy, though both countries have a large ageing population. Germany’s adroit handling of the public health emergency can be attributed to an early commitment of resources in fighting the pandemic and taking measures such as stocking up on test kits and procuring extra hospital beds and ventilators. As a result, Germany is now in a position to accept critically sick patients from other European countries.
Similarly, Taiwan, a country that does not even have access to WHO due to Chinese pressure, has managed to keep its infected cases very low (less than 400) by acting early on travel restrictions and mandating face masks. Under the leadership of President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan is now able to donate masks to Europe. In January and February, while other countries were debating whether or not to take the coronavirus threat seriously, Germany, Taiwan and New Zealand, were acting decisively. In New Zealand, where 11 deaths have been reported thus far and the number of recoveries exceeds new infections, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took the bold step of shutting borders early despite having an economy heavily reliant on tourism.
Most importantly, all three women communicated clearly and did not backtrack on what they said, thereby building trust so that the instructions they issued were followed closely by citizens. Instead of wasting time on blaming predecessors or downplaying the threat posed by this deadly virus, they were truthful and demonstrated an emotional intelligence found largely lacking among the male leadership of traditionally powerful countries like the US and UK, both of which are currently led by men who have blundered profusely amidst the crisis.

The PM should take his cue from women leaders.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson started off by rejecting the idea of a lockdown or social distancing, favouring instead the bizarre idea of ‘herd immunity’ whilst callously informing the public that they will “lose loved ones”. It was only after several people died, epidemiologists confirmed that herd immunity isn’t possible in the absence of a vaccine, and members of his inner circle came down with the virus while Johnson himself ended up in hospital that he made a U-turn on his policy.
Likewise, President Trump was unable to remain consistent in these perilous times. Until the second week of March, he insisted on comparing the highly contagious coronavirus to the flu. By making wrong comparisons and being indecisive about testing and social-distancing measures, he has managed to make the US the epicentre of the virus, with the largest number of recorded cases of any country. When questioned by reporters about his failings, he turns on them in true narcissistic style.
In contrast, the women leaders seem far less concerned about their own image or self-congratulation and far more willing to work seriously in these testing times. They aren’t bothered about becoming cult figures worshipped by their supporters, or appearing macho as Boris Johnson did when he claimed, not too long ago, that “he shakes hands with everyone, even coronavirus patients”.
Pakistan has the benefit of learning from other countries and assessing how much of a difference good leadership makes. Unfor­tu­na­tely, Prime Minister Imran Khan has demonstrated tendencies similar to Trump and Johnson. By not addressing the nation on the pandemic until March 17, he acted very late. And even then there was no clear plan. In the initial press conferences, he appeared enamoured by Boris Johnson’s approach of “taking it on the chin” which is proving detrimental to Britain with each passing day as the death toll continues to rise.
Like Trump, Khan had downplayed the threat by equating it with the flu and suggesting that warmer weather may dissipate it. Self-absorbed and prone to blaming his predecessors for healthcare inadequacies, he seems as unconvinced as Trump when suggesting a lockdown, thus making it less likely for others to abide by the restrictions. He would be much better off taking his cue from the women leaders of Germany, New Zealand and Taiwan, who have prioritised effectively, acted decisively and earned the trust of their compatriots.

#Pakistan - COVID-19 – A leadership challenge

By Abdul Qayyum Chaudhry
“Leadership is the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them still feeling empowered and accomplished,” said Lisa Cash Hanson, who is a multi-award-winning influential blogger and a social media strategist. This definition, however, mainly pertains to businesses where we have both managers and leaders. It is said that, “Managers are expected to do things rightly while leaders are expected to do right things.” This means that managers have the responsibility to implement or execute a given plan while the leaders study environments, consider options, take a decision based on their innovative thought process and then conceive and evolve a strategic plan to be executed by the managers. Real leaders thus do creative work. That is why Richard Nixon had said, “Management is prose and leadership is poetry.”
It is however important to understand that fundamental leadership principles are universally applicable to all professions including politics, military, business and media etc. Great leaders always abide by these principles which include connectivity or communication with the led, awareness and knowledge of their gross root difficulties, intellectual honesty, above board conduct, positivity, accountability and above all humility. A leader following above stipulated principles can boldly face worst challenges under extremely difficult environments.
President Richard Nixon, in his book “Leaders” wrote, “We can fully measure a leader’s greatness only when he is challenged to the limits of his ability.” After Quaid-e-Azam’s early demise and Khan Liaqat Ali Khan’s unfortunate assassination, Pakistan generally faced leadership crises. Resultantly where we suffered serious setbacks by taking wrong decisions and mishandling issues like Gibraltar operation, East Pakistan and Kargil etc., our politico-military leadership also did very well in certain areas. For example, Field Marshal Ayub Khan had the vision to construct huge hydel dams, ZA Bhutto initiated work on nuclear capability which was vigorously pursued by all subsequent leaders including General Zia, Ishaq Khan, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif who finally had the honour to permit nuclear explosions against all external pressures.
Our superior politico-military achievements were however exhibited in not only controlling, but also comprehensively defeating terrorism under very challenging environments. GHQ was attacked, President/COAS had assassination attempts twice in the heart of Rawalpindi Cantt, the National Day parade could not be held for many years, attacks on five-star Marriott hotel and penetration of terrorists in to heavily defended Kamra and Mehran Bases with impunity had created a nightmare scenario. We salute our Armed Forces and their leadership for their superior strategy and outstanding courage to face the brunt of this Indian sponsored and financed terrorist activity. Credit also goes to the Civil Armed Forces, the police and our legal fraternity for their sacrifices. Top political leadership also played a pivotal role in harnessing entire national support. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called an All-Party Conference (APC), paid repeated visits to all flashpoints including Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and even to North Waziristan to rally the entire nation to face the challenge threatening our very existence. Now again, we are in the grip of an unprecedented national calamity; COVID-19. This undoubtedly presents a very big challenge to Imran Khan’s leadership. He has to rally the entire nation. It is unfortunate that he is not ready to see even the faces of his political rivals not to speak of interacting with them for evolving a joint national strategy to meet this menace of coronavirus, which is not only threatening our lives, but also pushing us to economic recession. Pakistan’s debts and liabilities now stand up to Rs41 trillion which is about 94 percent of our GDP. Besides, the population is increasing by 1.8 percent.
The coronavirus outbreak is first and foremost a human tragedy, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. It is also having a growing impact on the global economy. The pandemic continues to expand. More than 175 countries and territories have reported cases of COVID-19. According to an analysis by UN Department of economics and Social Affairs (DESA), “The severity of the economic impact will largely depend on two factors – the duration of restrictions on the movement of people and economic activities in major economies; and the actual size and efficacy of fiscal responses to the crisis.”
The recent World Bank report for 8 South Asian countries is alarming. It says that Pakistan, which was expecting 1 percent growth in GDP in 2021, may achieve negative growth of over 2 percent for the first time in 68 years. This will be worse than the 1971 war when Pakistan’s GDP growth remained positive at 1.3 percent. The World Bank also foresees a drop in our per capita income in addition to looming food insecurity. World GDP has already shrunk by 3 percent which may go to 8 percent in 2021. American GDP has already gone down by 5.9 percent. Market and macro data signals that the COVID-19 economic crisis will be worse than the 2008 financial crisis. It will all have the worst impact on developing countries like Pakistan. My humble recommendations to the government would be:
1. The PM should consider himself as a leader of the entire nation (not PTI only) and call an APC along with CMs of all five provinces and the PM of AJK to formulate a national plan of action. Show honesty, humility, apathy and grace as President Obama highlighted while praising and endorsing Joe Biden as Democrats’ presidential candidate.
2. Show genuine respect for all but take firm policy decisions and ensure their strict Implementation without wavering.
3. Since we don’t know how long we will be tormented by this virus, we should hypothesise both short- and long-term scenarios and assess possible damages to lives, economy and food security and prepare contingency plans.
4. Since surrender is no option, our top priority has to be social isolation and distancing however, farmers will have to be allowed harvesting and thrashing of wheat crops with due precautions.
5. Apply to the Paris Club for rescheduling our debts and put full pressure on IMF and World Bank for debt relief and writing off some debts as was done in the past for many nations.
6. Provide maximum financial assistance to the farmers to buy quality seeds and fertiliser on cheap rates to help them grow bumper crops with focus on cotton, rice, sugar cane, wheat, lentils and vegetables.
7. Essential industries should be allowed to continue under strict control of the owners for their work force isolation, sanitisation and healthcare.
8. Defence production industries are already working with full precautions. They may be used for preparing sanitisation gels, masks, testing kits, protective dresses for doctors and paramedics and much needed ventilators. Some defence industries like POF and DESTO are already doing a wonderful job.
9. PM should cut down his battery of unelected advisers and allow parliamentary committees to function. A Senate session can also be called with due precautions. Parliamentarians can guide the ministries and also ensure their oversight.
10. Foreign remittances play a pivotal role in boosting our economy. So far $17 billion have been remitted in the current financial year. We have about 9 million people working abroad mainly in GCC countries, Europe and America. Most of them are being laid off. Our ambassadors in different countries must keep a close liaison with governments and big employers to protect employments of our diaspora.
11. Last but not the least, revive local governments through an ordinance. They can reach out to every house in their wards to identify needy people and render help. This may avert one of the worst human catastrophes because of unemployment and food shortages.

#Balochistan health dept not meeting demands: YDA

The Balochistan health department has not met the demands of health professionals who had protested against a lack of protective gear to treat coronavirus patients last week and instead initiated retaliatory action, a spokesperson for the Young Doctors Association (YDA) said Wednesday.
YDA spokesperson Rahim Khan Babar said the demands were still not being met despite assurances from the provincial government on April 8, following which they had ended their boycott last week.
The provincial health department had initiated retaliatory action against the body and the protesting doctors, Babar said, adding: “The YDA trusted the committee during the negotiations and deferred its protest in the larger public interest.
“[However] there has been no report so far from the committee that was formed to probe the incident,” Babar added. “We demand that Balochistan Chief Minister [Jam Kamal Khan] take notice of the ongoing conditions.”
150 doctors arrested
Last week, on Tuesday, the YDA had led protests against the lack of personal protection equipment (PPEs) in the hospitals to treat coronavirus patients. The doctors had suspended their services in medical facilities across Balochistan.
However, Quetta police had baton-charged the doctors for protesting near the CM House and arrested at least 150 doctors. Authorities had claimed the doctors were detained for violating Section 144, which bans public gatherings.
The protests had come to an end after provincial minister Zmarak Khan announced that the government had accepted the rightful demands put forward by the YDA. “We stand with doctors and the paramedical staff,” he had said during a press conference with the association’s president, Dr Yasir Khan.
“We are putting in all our efforts to win the war against the coronavirus,” Dr Yasir Khan had said, expressing hope that the committee formed by provincial ministers to approve doctors’ demands would keep its promises.
“We know the protest made life difficult for people,” admitted Dr Yasir.
Protest upon protest
Earlier in the day, the YDA representative had demanded that the police officers involved in manhandling and arrest of the medical staff be punished. The provincial health secretary and special secretary should be removed from their posts, he had added.
“Until our demands are met, no services will be provided apart from in the labour room and cardiology department,” he had said.
It was learnt that after the protest, there was no medical staff available to treat patients at the Civil Hospital Quetta. After the boycott continued, the patients’ attendants had also protested for not being provided healthcare.
‘Doctors are messiahs’
On Monday, Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani had said the provincial leadership accepted all demands put forward by doctors. “We have accepted all demands put forward by doctors,” he had said.
“Contracts of 533 doctors have been extended till June. Two hundred and five doctors and nurses have been appointed on an ad hoc basis,” Shahwani had added.
The government spokesperson had claimed that safety equipment and kits were provided to doctors and that orders to release doctors had been issued earlier in the day.
“We request the doctors to not become a part of any mafia […] We will bring changes and facilitate them,” he had said. “We salute the medical services being provided by doctors. Doctors are messiahs. Messiahs don’t boycott patients.”

Pakistan: health workers tortured and arrested by police for demanding protective equipment

06 April 2020

Today, dozens of health workers were tortured and arrested in Quetta, Pakistan while they were protesting for the provision of personal protective equipment outside the office of the Chief Minister of Balochistan Province in Pakistan. The Young Doctors’ Association of Balochistan, along with the Nurses’ Association and the Hospital Workers’ Association, had been demanding the provision of protective equipment for many days but the government was not responding to their demands. These health workers were providing health services in government hospitals without any equipment. Many of them contracted the coronavirus because of this and at least 13 have tested positive so far. A dozen others are waiting for their test results. 

 Three days ago, they held a joint press conference in which they gave the government 48 hours to provide protective equipment. If this demand wasn’t met, the health workers stated, they would hold a protest against the government. No one gave any heed to their demands. For this reason, they started their protest this morning in front of the Chief Minister’s office, risking their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of listening to their complaints, the government met them with savage repression. 

They were brutally beaten by the police, taken into custody and shifted to different police stations in Quetta. Red Workers' Front comrade and health workers arrested According to our most recent information, dozens of health workers were still in custody, along with the leaders of the Young Doctors Association, Paramedics Association, and the organiser of RWF Balochistan, Comrade Karim Parhar. Comrade Karim Parhar also shared a video on Facebook, showing him inside a police van, being taken to the police station together with many other health workers. In the video, all the arrested health workers are seen raising their demands. They showed complete resolve, determination to fight for their rights and to save not only their own, but also their patients’ lives.

The situation in Pakistan’s other provinces and cities is no different. From day one, health workers organised in the Grand Health Alliance have been demanding protective equipment from the government. However, the pandemic has been allowed to ravage the country for several weeks, and they have not received any of this lifesaving gear. Even ordinary facemasks are not available to these health workers. In many places, they are forced to use plastic bags and other such material to protect their personal safety. Dozens of health workers around the country have contracted COVID-19, with a few having already died. One of those is a 27-year old doctor, Osama Riaz from Gilgit in Baltistan, who was screening COVID-19 patients there. Many other doctors, female nurses and hospital workers have tested positive due to the lack of protective equipment.
The Grand Health Alliance’s leaders have held various press conferences and raised their voices in many TV shows, as well as on social media, putting forward these demands. The government steadfastly refuses to listen. This puts in stark relief the callousness and inhuman nature of the ruling class here. Instead of providing health workers with proper PPE, the government announced that those who die in this fight would be labeled as martyrs and asked the security forces to present health workers with a salute of honor. But health workers publicly condemned this action, saying they didn't want to become martyrs; instead, they want to continue fulfilling their duties in this critical situation.
Already, Pakistan’s ratio of health workers to the population as a whole is one of the worst in the world. Pakistan spends less than two percent of its GDP on healthcare and there is only one doctor available for every 1,500 people, and only one hospital bed for every 2,000 people. There are many fewer nurses than doctors. Every year, around half a million children die from treatable diseases like malaria, pneumonia and dysentery in Pakistan. In the same time period, more than 100,000 women die during childbirth. More than 45 percent of children are malnourished, causing their growth to be stunted.
In a country of 220 million, only 22 big teaching hospitals are available for the masses, while there are 950 poorly maintained and ill equipped secondary hospitals and 6,000 basic health units that only provide basic services, though only on paper most of the time. In reality, the situation is much worse, with hospitals understaffed and without any resources to treat the thousands of patients coming in every day. When this pandemic started spreading in Pakistan in late February, the government in Pakistan didn't take it seriously and gave permission to various congregations, including religious gatherings of thousands of people in various cities, due to which the virus spread across the country. Also, the government carried out the privatisation of hospitals in the first week of March, while health workers were busy screening COVID-19 patients. So far the government has reported only 52 deaths due to coronavirus but this is a huge understatement. Various other sources report a higher rate of deaths, while testing facilities are not widely available. According to a report by The Independent Urdu, expired testing kits are also being used by the government, which has put a question mark over all testing being carried out in the country. This shows the bleak picture of health services in the entire country, which is already at the 154th position in health facilities among the countries of the world according to the World Health Organization. Simultaneously, Pakistan was the 11th-largest buyer of sophisticated weapons in the world in 2019 and spends around 50 percent of its annual budget on debt servicing, as well as more than 25 percent on defence. Annually, four percent of the GDP is spent directly on defence, along with large amounts indirectly.
In this situation, the coronavirus pandemic has brought the country to the verge of a catastrophe, where thousands of people can die while the ruling class continues to shift its wealth in safe havens outside the country. The policies of the government are to brutally crush any kind of dissent and use all its power to silence the working class, who are coming out to defend their rightful demands. Also, to fight the coronavirus pandemic the government has announced tax breaks and subsidies worth billions of rupees for the rich in the country, while the poor continue to die of hunger and disease and millions starve in miserable living conditions.

The fight for health!

The Red Workers’ Front is at the forefront of the struggle against these measures and is in close coordination with the Grand Health Alliance in all provinces to put pressure on the government to provide protective equipment. The RWF has initiated the campaign, not only amongst health workers, but has taken it to other sectors of the working class to forge unity among the workers in this catastrophic situation. Millions of workers have been thrown out of their jobs due to the lockdown and many more have to survive this lockdown without wages or support from the government. In many cities food riots have already started, in which people have come out of their localities in their hundreds to protest on empty roads for basic food items. Some protests have turned violent and have led to the plundering of nearby food resources.
The Red Workers’ Front is demanding that the government provide basic food items to all working-class people, waive their electricity and other utility bills and order a rent freeze in the entire country. To provide these resources, the government should expropriate the rich and save thousands of people from dying of hunger and disease. But the ruling class of the country is too busy with its dirty politics and is using every means to safeguard their own vested interests, while unleashing chaos on the masses and throwing them to a miserable death due to hunger and disease.
The whole world is saluting the doctors for their contribution & fight against corona. In Quetta, Pakistan, they r tortured, arrested & humiliated jst 4 demanding protection kits. @mazdaki @GulBukhari
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The Red Workers’ Front is trying to organise the working class in this catastrophic situation through online meetings and campaigns on the ground. A large number of workers are sending video messages explaining their plight and demanding basic safety equipment from the government. These video messages are being published on the RWF Facebook page and getting widespread support. So far, workers from the electricity department, telecommunications, education, irrigation and other departments have sent their video messages in solidarity with the health workers and also explaining their own plight in these conditions. Industrial workers from Colgate toothpaste, textiles, coal mines, construction, the auto industry and other sectors have also sent their messages and have stressed the need of a united struggle against the vicious ruling class of Pakistan. The RWF has also organised online meetings of electricity workers and in various other sectors to discuss these issues.
In the coming months, the death toll is expected to rise due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with the struggle of the masses against the ruling class, in which Red Workers’ Front will try to bring all sections of the working class on one platform to fight against this mass murder of the workers.

The struggle of health workers for protective equipment is part of the struggle of the working class to snatch its right to life from the jaws of death, which has been imposed by the bloodthirsty rulers not only in Pakistan but in the whole world. It is now the duty of the workers of the world to fight against this draconian capitalist system, which has brought this misery to the human race on the whole planet. Only a united action of the workers of the world and their solidarity can bring back life, happiness and prosperity on the planet by overthrowing the rule of Capital.

COVID-19 in Pakistan: Why the government and doctors are at odds

Doctors and health workers in Pakistan are angry over a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). PM Imran Khan's government is facing severe criticism for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis in the country.
More than 100 doctors and medical workers in Pakistan have so far been infected with the novel coronavirus while interacting with patients. Two doctors — one in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan area, and the other in the southern Karachi city — have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the Pakistani government extended the countrywide lockdown for two more weeks but eased some restrictions. The country's clerics say they will hold congregational prayers and will no longer follow government orders against mass prayers. As the Islamic month of Ramadan is around the corner, special mass prayers could hamper Pakistan's efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Doctors fear that the easing of social distancing restrictions and the clerics' defiance of the lockdown could put them in harm's way.
"We are facing an acute shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and other medical facilities. The government is not helping us, not providing protective gear to the medical staff working in emergency wards," Tipu Sultan, former president of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), told DW.
"On top of it, the government is easing restrictions and clerics are vowing to hold mass prayers in mosques. It could all lead to a surge in coronavirus cases in the country. I fear that our entire public healthcare system will be overwhelmed," Sultan added.
Abdul Ghaffor Shoro, PMA's secretary-general in Karachi, agrees with Sultan. "It seems that the government is neither taking the situation seriously nor is it interested in addressing doctors' complaints," Shoro told DW.
Harsh response to doctors' demands
Pakistan has recorded close to 7,000 coronavirus cases and 128 related deaths. Thousands of health workers are on the frontline to battle the pandemic, but a lack of PPE and other health facilities have exposed them to the risk of contracting the disease.
"The government promised to give us PPE some 10 days ago, but we are still waiting for it," Shoro said.
Pakistan's public healthcare system is among the worst in the world. In 2019, the Pakistani government allocated only 13 billion rupees (€0.16 billion, $0.174 billion) for its federal health budget.
Shoro says that doctors don't want to put too much pressure on authorities, as they are cognizant of the government's problems. "We do not want to set a deadline or call for a strike, but for god's sake, doctors are dying. Over 100 of them have been tested positive for COVID-19. The number is probably higher because we haven't tested much. We believe that thousands of health workers have been infected with coronavirus," Shoro said.
On April 6, police used force against protesting doctors in the western city of Quetta. The doctors were demanding that authorities provide them with protective gear in hospitals. Although the protest took place last week, doctors in Quetta are yet to receive PPE.
"We are still working without PPE," Yasir Khan, president of the Young Doctors' Association, Baluchistan, told DW.
Uncertain future
The situation is not much different in other parts of the country. According to Asfandyar Khan, chairman of the Young Consultants' Association of Pakistan, more than 250 doctors and para-medical staff at Pakistan's Institute of Medical Science in Islamabad are dealing with COVID-19 patients without any protective gear. Khan says that these medical officials interact with over 1,000 patients daily and are totally exposed to coronavirus.
The government has urged the medical community to use the existing PPE efficiently, citing a lack of funds to provide the equipment to all staff.
"We have allocated funds to address doctors' concerns, but the doctors should also keep in mind the overall situation. Even the US and European countries are unable to provide all facilities to their doctors," said Muhammad Iqbal Khan Afridi, a member of parliament.
Experts say that if the government does not step up efforts to protect medical workers from COVID-19, more doctors could go on strike. This could endanger the health of coronavirus patients and hamper Pakistan's fight to contain the disease.