The deadlock between the Sindh government and the traders over the timing of keeping shops open is unfortunate. In these times, the two sides should be more cooperative towards each other. Rigid positions will only aggravate the situation further.

Though the Sindh government is not willing to accept the traders’ demands, the request of the merchants is not entirely irrational. Longer opening hours – the main demand of the traders – might mean more time retailers to sell their commodities but also means fewer chances of people crowding at shops, if appropriately managed. If the government does not make this an ego issue, the request is a plausible one.

Nonetheless, if the government does not want to bow before the traders then reorganising the schedule can end the present impasse. Reorganisation can create a win-win situation for both parties. What is clear is that the enforcement of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will be instrumental in curtailing the spread of the virus.

The debate over timing becomes meaningless if the SOPs are not followed properly. In any case, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, by ordering the reopening of the markets has already essentially given credence to the stance of the traders. The authorities must now convince the traders to accept moving the allotted time slot.

Otherwise, the officials will find it difficult dealing with traders and transporters both, as the latter have already hinted at defying the lockdown if it is not relaxed by Tuesday. The prudent approach will be to deal with one issue at a time. Negotiating with both groups will exhaust the energies of the Sindh government.

This is not the right time to blame each other, as Saeed Ghani is accusing the federal government of sabotaging Sindh’s efforts against the virus. Will Ghani also blame the SC after the apex court of the country has ordered reopening the markets? Instead of finding scapegoats, it is about time that the Sindh government starts working on a finding a solution that can end the deadlock.