Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Dengue Brothers or Dengue Khan?

Imran Khan, propelled by a friendly media and unburdened by the weight of a political history, is flying high in public opinion. An important element in Imran's popularity is the absence of any previous record in a government position. While he and his party have no problems blowing up real and imagined weaknesses of their opponents to their political advantage, his critics find very little to target apart from a few indiscretions in his private and cricketing life. This lack of history is not necessarily a good thing. While it gives him a clean sheet and gives his followers a  lot of hope, it also casts a big question mark over his abilities to deliver on his promises. There are however many clues in his largely unfruitful political career spanning the last 15 years for those who are keeping their eyes and minds open.

Dengue fever effects up to 100 million worldwide each year. Half a million of these cases are life threatening. In 2010 dengue outbreaks were reported in Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Colombia, Singapore and several other countries. Punjab has been hit hard by dengue fever in 2011. The outbreak itself is not necessarily a reason to ridicule a government. It is how the outbreak is handled that determines the competence or lack thereof. Imran loves to use every mention of the outbreak as an opportunity to score some political points. His actions in alleviating the misery of the people are however non-existent. The primary responsibility of preventing and handling the outbreak lies with the Punjab government. However, Imran was ideally placed to lend a helping hand in this crises not to the government of Punjab but to the people of Punjab. The Shaukat Khanum Hospital is built on land donated by the Punjab government and runs on donations of Pakistanis. Instead of taunting the government from the sidelines Imran should have shown his leadership qualities and set up an intensive care unit at the hospital for patients in critical condition. The superior facilities and better doctors at this hospital may have been able to save a few lives. Sadly, Imran saw every dengue death as a +1 to his political score. He opted to show up on talk shows and have a chuckle about how the "Dengue Brothers" were being clean bowled by mosquitoes. Instead of taking the lead and offering free dengue tests to suspected patients Imran chose to defy the orders of the Punjab government and refused to carry out dengue tests for Rs.90.

In a recent survey conducted by Gallup Pakistan, 86% Pakistanis rated the performance of Punjab government as good or satisfactory in fighting dengue. Based on these numbers, the brothers can hold their heads up high while the Khan must hang his in shame.

Majority Favors Shahbaz Sharifs Performance in fighting Dengue virus The Ratings are Good 58% Satisfactory 28% and Bad 9%: GILANI POLL/GALLUP PAKISTAN

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