KARACHI: While coronavirus has spread to different parts of the country and become a challenge for the state, it has also emerged as a test for leadership that may determine the course of their political career. I t will also offer opportunities to parties to prove their popularity among the masses.
Fear and panic over the disease almost killed the potential of the opposition parties to launch a fresh offensive against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led rule, ending the momentum even before their planned anti-government campaigns could see the light of day.
The pandemic, however, brought to light the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) performance in Sindh where Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah is capitalising everyday on his actions by reconnecting with the people and winning applause from every segment of society.
“What emerged from this crisis is the personality of CM Sindh and his leadership qualities,” says Mubashir Zaidi, a senior journalist and one of the hosts of Dawn News’ flagship show Zara Hat Kay.
“He has obviously proved himself as a leader of national stature. As far as opposition parties are concerned, I think they haven’t lost much because they were already [before the virus cases were reported in Pakistan] not on one page and facing so much confusion,” he explains.
CM Shah’s proactive approach in the present time of crisis came as a surprise for many of his political opponents as well. The record maintained by the CM House shows how vigorously he has been pursuing the strategy that his cabinet has devised, leaving no space for anyone to show sluggishness.
Details of his engagements a day before the 15-day lockdown was announced show his restless and non-stop exercise to finalize the blueprint of the plan.
“He held more than half a dozen back-to-back meetings that day,” says an official citing record of the CM House.
“He first held hours-long meeting with his task force on coronavirus and then held detailed discussions with top officials of the law-enforcement agencies before finalizing plans with the provincial administration. After these hours-long sittings, came the team of finance for briefing before the meetings with chief secretary and home secretary.”
Setting the trend of battle across the country against the coronavirus with lockdown after his announcement followed by other provinces, CM Shah without much fanfare is opening new venues for his future as leader and his party, which has lost so much ground over the years amid charges of corruption and bad governance.
It is a quirk of the situation or a blessing in disguise for the PPP that its Sindh government which was until recently being criticised for failing in controlling cases of rabies due to dog bites and dengue is now praised for its administration for the pandemic that has brought some of the world’s greatest economies to the knees.
Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2020