More than 150 people, quarantined at Taftan, have tested positive for Coronavirus. People currently in the Taftan camp told media they were not being adequately screened for coronavirus or treated for existing conditions. They also complained of squalid living conditions at the facility, which is housing hundreds of people. This development has suddenly made Taftan the center of attention in the Coronavirus debate in Pakistan.
The disaster of the spread of COVID19 can’t be decontextualized from the problem of backwardness in Balochistan.
Taftan is a small transit border town in south-west Balochistan, which has remained underdeveloped despite being an international border crossing for 72 years. The federal government has never bothered to use its resources to develop this town. It was not possible for the government of Balochistan to establish a state of the art quarantine facility in Taftan given the lack of basic infrastructure. Without help and guidance, they came up with poor arrangements, which resulted in the disaster.
Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health, visited Taftan and termed the facilities satisfactory when they were not. The government of Balochistan can’t be fully absolved from the responsibility of poor arrangements at Taftan but it was not their prime responsibility.
People are also questioning the decision of opening the Iran border. There was no other choice, Pakistani citizens were on the other side and they could not have been denied entry indefinitely.
Now rather than bashing the Balochistan government non-stop for Taftan other provinces should effectively re-quarantine their residents once they are discharged. The federal government must help Balochistan in improving its quarantine capacities in Taftan for the future.
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