New Delhi, April 6 : The outbreak of Covid-19 has unleashed a number of paradoxes. On one hand, countries are pooling resources, consolidating medical and scientific expertise and enforcing never-seen-before mass lockdowns to prevent and slow the rate of infections and deaths. Multilateral organisations such as World Health Organisation (WHO) and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) and national laboratories around the world are experimenting and working on the fastest way to bring this affliction to an end. On the other, there are some countries and non-state actors which still haven't been able to transcend their myopic and frankly, obtuse views on national security.

They have endeavoured to use the access to various multilateral platforms to perpetuate their narrow visions, and attempted signalling through other means. North Korea, Pakistan and the Houthis all fall in this second category.

When viewed through the lens of various human development indices, Pakistan has emerged as a failed state.

Much of it is due to still-prevalent feudalism, rapid 'fundamentalisation' and Islamisation of the populace in the wake of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, predominant role of the military in appropriating the lion's share of the country's developmental funds in the name of a phantom threat of India and finally, an insensitive state which does not care enough about its citizens.

"The confluence of these actors and factors has led to a country where the mullahs and military rule the roost, and where superstition passes off as medication," said a senior Indian Army officer recently at a seminar in Delhi.

With a decrepit health infrastructure comparable and in some cases worse than that of sub-Saharan countries, the complete capitulation of Pakistan to Covid-19's assault was inevitable.

What has not been surprising is the indifference and insolence of the Pakistan army, which declared lockdowns and curfews in some parts of the country despite its Prime Minister's very public surrender that Pakistan was helpless against the disease.

The surprising part is that despite a public health emergency sweeping away the vestiges of its runt state into dysfunction, Pakistan has persisted in advocating for an apparition, a 'ghost' if you will, of the Kashmir cause.

"This continuous grovelling on international forums for an extraneous issue in the current milieu has to be seen in terms of an inferiority complex that Pakistan has been saddled with," a senior IFS officer who exposed Pakistan's lies at several international forum.

As it is, no state can be so insignificant materially and still claim to be the spearhead of Islam with such impunity, especially in presence of such countries as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a combined video conference of the SAARC heads of states on March 15 to discuss ways to combat Covid-19 and possible joint funding efforts, Pakistan sent a junior minister, Special Assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister for Health Zafar Mirza to attend.

Meant as a way to embarrass India at whose behest the conference was being organised, Pakistan also managed to spite all the other heads, all of whom were present with their respective advisors and experts.

Pakistan's representative then committed two faux-pas, both entirely illustrative of the uneven distribution of power in the country, not that it had to be displayed out in the open at such a venue.

First, there was a deliberate changing of the script kept in front of the minister. The person changing the papers may have considered himself to be invisible but the poorly attempted sleight of hand fooled no one in the conference.

The second blunder, following from the first, where Pakistan called for removing the lockdown from Kashmir to allow "virus containment measures" was a facetious effort to again highlight Kashmir on any possible stage possible.

This leads to two conclusions: that the "Naya" Prime Minister is depressingly insulated from the reality of Covid-19 in his own country (1,625 at the time of writing) and; he has no control over policy making or executive decision in his country, surrendering to China, Allah and the army, not particularly in that order.

Despite facing censure from a number of organisations, including the UN, Pakistan has not relented and has continued to implore the UN, WHO and even used the seat of the make-believe President of PoK to push forward the 'case of Kashmir'.

So how bad exactly is the situation in Kashmir? When speaking about the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, it is relevant to include Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) too. The news sadly has nothing new to offer.

The same apathy towards PoK and GB in education, infrastructure, development and human rights which has been amply documented in various national and international studies continues in case of these two regions.

In fact, the Pakistani army, in a brazen defiance of all international norms, has started pushing Covid-19 afflicted patients to PoK and GB, opening quarantine camps in Mirpur and other major cities, to ensure that none of their precious Punjab, especially the army cantonments and army housing societies, are free of this disease. So far 123 in GB and six in PoK have been confirmed to be Covid-19 positive, mostly due to the shifting of these patients.

In fact, such are conditions in these two areas that leaders from these regions, living in exile, have admonished Pakistan and praised PM Modi's leadership in taking charge of the situation in India.

The total number of cases in Jammu and Kashmir is merely 41 with the local population wholeheartedly collaborating with the administration in implementing social distancing and preventive measures.

Unlike in PoK and GB, the Indian armed forces have ably assisted the local administration in educating and informing the citizens about the dangers of Covid-19.

That Pakistan is a likely superspreader has been reported upon by reputed international papers.

The spearhead of Islam also has leant on China for its basic subsistence, getting medical supplies through PoK which is an integral part of India.

India has acted magnanimously by not reacting and reporting this issue of breach of international norms as it believes in humanitarian principles.

Pakistan must learn from India's mature and effective handling of this outbreak and focus on improving the conditions of its own citizens and not rake up insignificant issues during this global outbreak.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at sumit.k@ians.in)

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