Amidst a global crisis, one pertaining to health - a sector we’re still battling to improve due to scarce budget allocation, the government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) decided to dismiss the Federal Health Secretary Tauqir Shah on the protest of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leader Dr Tahir ul Qadri. At a time when it has been discovered that despite the government’s best efforts, coronavirus has been detected in parts of Pakistan, it was very important to maintain continuity in the system, especially in the sector of health. However, a protest from a non-political, non-residing individual taking precedence over the health issues of the country is a matter of concern.

Based purely on allegations, dismissal at this level shows grave concerns, especially with regards to the government of PTI, which seems to be prioritising politics over the health of the citizens. At the same time, it also shows the ability of a non-state actor to affect the politics of the country at such a crucial time. If anything, the government of PTI should have internalised the lesson by now that uprooting systems without effective alternative, especially at the time of a crisis, should not be the go-to policy of any government, especially new ones.

A virus that is affecting so many lives across the globe, and with Pakistan’s own unique challenges of the health system, it would have been a better strategy to let the crisis pass, maintain continuity and if the government feels the need to initiate an investigation, do so after the crisis has resolved. The policies of the government along with their decisions need to reflect the sentiment that promised human development to be the top most priority in the current tenure. The upcoming days will be a challenge for the government, especially if the move does not work out in their favour and creates more delays in the outputs being performed by them.