The Supreme Court’s concern over Pakistan’s response – both at the federal and provincial level – to the coronavirus pandemic should not come as a surprise for it is a national issue that affects everyone. In a country which has historically struggled with a crisis of good governance, the courts have had to intervene in matters that in an ideal situation, they may have chosen to keep at a distance. For many people, the fact that the SC is worried and invested in the issue may be reassuring knowing that the superior judiciary is keeping a close eye on the performance of the executive.

While Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad expressed dissatisfaction over Dr Zafar Mirza’s performance and remarked that the government ought to replace him, the fact is that changing a focal person mid-battle can be quite tough. The difficulty in carrying this out is compounded when confronted with such a demanding challenge. Crises like this pandemic require all concerned to work overtime and perform beyond their regular best. As pointed out by the CJP, there is simply no time for political squabbles and disunity. All quarrels should be put to rest to ensure necessary coordination between provincial and federal governments.

As witnessed around the world, countries with far superior infrastructures and resource pools compared to Pakistan have been overwhelmed by the scale of the coronavirus pandemic. With their severely limited resources, developing nations like Pakistan are bound to find themselves constantly struggling between the ideal and what is actually doable. The choice will always be the latter for the ideal is simply unattainable. With this realisation in mind, the executive will need to be proactive and keep up its search for innovative solutions that can be properly implemented. It is hoped that today’s hearing will not discourage the executive but compel it to strive harder to rise above the challenge.