Coronavirus Pandemic and responsibility of welfare state
Facing the pandemic, is not what matters, it is how we respond. This is not the first time that pandemic has come to haunt us and it won’t be the last either. So hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Coronavirus cases in Pakistan are surging within minutes and it is expected that this will continue. Pakistan identified its first two cases on 26th February and today after 25 days the total tally of cases has gone to more than 600.
Moment after the first case, Sindh government seemed very cautious and immediately took some precautionary measures. Schools, colleges, and universities were shut down and way forward started to be discussed. Even before Imran and his cabinet talk about the pandemic chief minister Murad Ali Shah had already won Sindh.
Furthermore, as situation went worse, chief minister Sindh took some more tough decisions and announced a complete lockdown in the province to contain the deadly coronavirus. Despite all the concerns by Sindh government, prime minister Imran khan, in his speech, showed reluctance for countrywide lockdown. Khan said; “Pakistan is not in a condition to go into complete lockdown because our 25% people live below the national poverty line. If we protect them from virus they will die of hunger and poverty. He further enounced that “Pakistan has not the capacity to provide ration to all those daily wage earners.”
After listening the speech of My PM, I was wondering his statements that ‘Pakistan will be the welfare state like Riyasat e Madina and shoulder the responsibility of it’s less privileged and poor people. I have heard about the will and determination of my PM and Shaukat Khanum is the living proof of that but today I found him derailed from his will power.
It is the duty of the state to take care of it’s citizens in abnormal conditions. It is the State’s liability, according to the constitution of Pakistan, to provide food to it’s people. After all, this is the purpose ordinary citizen to pay taxes so that State can take responsibility of very many poor.
Let me list the type of taxes an ordinary citizen is subjected to:
Goods and services tax (GST), Capital value tax (CVT), Value added tax (VAT), Central sales tax (CST), Service tax, Petrol levy, Excise duty, Customs duty, Tax deducted at source (TDS), Property tax, Stamp duty, Capital gains tax (CGT), Water tax, Professional tax, Securities transaction tax (STT), Education cess, Wealth tax, Congestion levy and the list goes on.
And instead of using these taxes for the welfare of people, the state often ask ordinary citizens to give charity and help those in need. Can state be run like an NGO? There is absolutely no doubt that charity is a noble act but all the masses as well as stakeholders in key positions here need to understand that State is subjected to aid hapless people.
I am not advocating against charity nor I mean to stop people from being generous. Not at all.
If you find someone in need, help them as much as you can. But there is the need to differentiate between the State and an individual.
To encapsulate, State must own it’s people. It is the State’s responsibility to look after it’s citizens. I urge you my PM, Own your people! Their eyes are on you! Let your flight of imagined Riyasat e Madina do wonders for the people of Pakistan.
Mr. Jawad Liaquat Shaikh is a freelance writer based in Karachi. His interests include social, political, and economic issues of national and international politics.