Opposition parties readily rallying behind the cause of pressurising the government to help eradicate coronavirus from Pakistan is a welcome move, provided that this is not to play politics, but to provide constructive criticism where needed. These mainstream parties have struggled to form an alliance in the last one-and-a-half year of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) government. Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has called an All Party Conference (APC) to discuss the matter, Shahbaz Sharif has returned to the country, and just a day ago, the opposition, front-lined by PPP leader Sherry Rehman demanded a proactive approach from the government, labelling the current strategies ineffective and not well thought out.

It is certainly a step ahead for local politics, for parties that have remained docile in the recent past have decided to engage back with mainstream politics but is this really the right time to do so? The issue of the coronavirus itself deserves the most importance. Where the state is debating temporary lockdowns due to the burden on the economy, we cannot afford politicians engaging in public politics for the time being, as the eradication of the virus demands social distancing and not participating in public gatherings. Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani has already tested positive for the virus. It is important for politicians to understand social responsibility in such a situation, especially with the case of Sindh as an example where a complete lockdown had to be exercised.

This is also a great opportunity for political actors to develop communication channels online to establish a more reliant medium to connect with the voters. It is important to lead by example at this point. If the intent is to provide relief efforts to the population, it should happen in a systematic manner, with a carefully thought out strategy that does not expose several people to the risk of contracting the virus. The government needs all the help at this time to ensure the safety of the people, and the opposition can certainly gain some ground if they follow the protocols in place.