With the heightened risk factor that accompanies the accumulation of people in large groups, Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) call for rallies, protests and sit-ins is highly irresponsible. What needs to be understood is that the wellbeing of the people needs to come first. Our future cannot be ridden with economic depravity, a poor quality of life and uncontainable chaos—all qualities that we can expect if we refuse to take precaution in the status quo.

PM Imran Khan’s warning on public protests and gathering stem from the concerns of a mutated and much more lethal virus that plagues the country, claiming multiple lives and livelihoods. According to new research, the strain of COVID-19 is, now, not showing up on tests. Furthermore, symptoms seem to be severer and much more fatal. We have returned back to the beginning of May where medical equipment, sanitation supplies and commodities in general were either scarce, in a limited supply or subject to extreme inflation.

The only difference right now is the attitude towards the disease; the authorities and masses, in a similar fashion, seem to be apathetic towards the precautionary behaviours that must be adopted to limit the rate of transmission. A prime example of this is the insistence of continuing with public protests, putting the lives of thousands at risk to a disease that seems to be hungry for more. In recognition of all this, all jalsas, whether in Lahore or Peshawar, need to be cancelled for now. It is the responsibility of these large parties, dominated by highly informed politicians, to endorse self-preservation so that we can, once again, tackle the pandemic with efficiency and urgency.

The biggest weapon that plays in the virus’ interest is the neglect that such political bodies continue to show in Pakistan. If the fact that we, as a country, are facing this problem together—with each individual subjected to equal amounts of risk—is understood then the need for collective action, regardless of whatever side you are on, will become clear.