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The Day Afghanistan Changed Forever

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The ongoing war in Afghanistan began 18 years ago by the United States and NATO, and apparently, the September 11 was one of the main reasons for the US attack on Afghanistan. This war began with the aim of the fall of the Taliban regime and the elimination of al-Qaeda’s bases in Afghanistan. Although the US and NATO forces defeated the Taliban in the early days, the Taliban’s defeat in 2001 was temporary and the Taliban began its war operations in different parts of the country soon. Now, it has become stronger than the early of days of the twenty-first century over the past 17 years. Insecurity has spread from the south to the northern regions of the country, and now much of the territory of Afghanistan is outside the control of the government.

During the Jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, thousands of Arab fighters fought alongside the Afghans against the Soviet Union, and subsequently, they were sheltered by the Mujahidin under the leadership of Mr. Rabbani, the second president of the Islamic State of Afghanistan after the fall of Democratic Republic of Afghanistan regimes. Then, when the Taliban dominated more than 90 percent of Afghanistan’s territory, including al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, a number of Arabs who had been living in Afghanistan since 1996, supported the Taliban groups in Afghanistan.

With the occurrence of September 11, 2001, that members of the al-Qaeda network were accused of taking part in the incident, the United States attacked Afghanistan and began a bloody war in the country after the fall of the Taliban regime. Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan, and President George W. Bush announced on September 20, 2001, his stance against the Taliban government as following:

I.All al-Qaeda leaders should be handed over to the United States;

II.All foreign prisoners in the Taliban’s custody should be released and submitted to the United States;

III.All the terrorist training camps should be closed in Afghanistan;

IV.And the Taliban regime should allow the United States to have full access to Al-Qaeda camps for inspection.

The Taliban government stated through its embassy in Pakistan that the United States has not yet provided any evidence of Osama bin Laden’s involvement in the September 11 attacks. According to Taliban ambassador Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeif in Islamabad, the Taliban government made great efforts to verify the incident, but the United States did not retreat from the decision to invade Afghanistan. According to him, the September 11 attacks were not accidental, but the United States had already planned military presence in Afghanistan in order to secure its long-term interests in the region. The Taliban three times offered Osama bin Laden’s trial to the US government for the September 11 events, rejected by the United States every three times.

On October 07, 2001, the US air strikes began, and on October 31, the United Nation’s Forces joined Kabul with the help of US air strikes, and the Taliban regime was overthrown. On November 25, the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan was held, and within 10 days, it established a temporary administration headed by Hamid Karzai. These successive accidents occurred rapidly that surprised everyone in Afghanistan. People were dancing and singing on the streets and roads celebrating the defeat of the Taliban and welcoming the United Nation Forces led by the US. But unfortunately, the positive changes and bestowed joys were temporary. By elapsing year, the situation of Afghanistan was getting worse than the previous year. Afghans were encountering challenges and problems that were rare in their nature and severity. This paper aims to analyze the events after the overthrow of the Taliban regime that changed the feature and situation of Afghanistan forever.

The Challenges that Afghanistan Rarely Experienced Prior to 11/9 Attacks

Roaming of regional and international terrorist groups into Afghanistan: After the fall of the Taliban’s regime in Nov. 2001, the number of terrorist groups increased in Afghanistan. It is said that there are 21 terrorist groups fighting with the Afghan Armed Forces and international forces stationed in Afghanistan. These groups include Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan and the Haqqani Network, Jamaat al-Dawa al-Quran, ISIL, al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda in southern Asia, al-Mujahideen party, Taliban militant, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Islamic Movement Movement, Movement Al-Jihad Bangladesh, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jash Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Tariq Guider’s group, Jamaat-e-Alahar, Jondallah, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Movement of Turkmenistan, Islamic Jihad and Qods Force.

Climbing of poverty and unemployment: Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world and is widely supported by the foreign countries, even though the country’s economic growth is said to be about 2.6 percent by the end of the year. According to a new survey issued in Afghanistan in comparison to a decade ago, poverty increased by 21%.According to the source, the poverty line has risen from 38% in 1391 to 54% in 1395. The level of poverty is growing in Afghanistan simultaneously with an infusion of billions of dollars by foreign countries into Afghanistan. The United States Agency for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (SIGAR) articulates that the United States contributed to Afghanistan from 2002 to January 30, 2013, was about $ 1.4 billion more than the Marshall Plan budget for the reconstruction of 16 Western European countries after World War II.

Heavy human loss: studies and issued reports echo that the number of foreign military victims in Afghanistan since the start of the war in 2001 to 2018, in total, 3,546 foreign troops have been killed from 30 countries in Afghanistan, with 2408 from the United States, 455 from the UK, and 158 from Canada, had the highest casualties in war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. After the attack on al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001, the US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan on October 7th and overthrew the Taliban regime, but the war has continued so far, during which time Afghan security forces and civilians also suffered heavy casualties. As per the reports by the foreign independent researchers, since the fall of Taliban’s regime up to now, around 13,000 Afghan armed forces, including local police have been killed in the war against the insurgents.

According to a Brown University research report from the United States, the Afghan conflict since 2001, when the Taliban regime collapsed by US-led forces, has left nearly 100,000 dead and injured. The study, titled “War Expenditures,” conducted by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University in the United States, addresses the casualties associated with war and displacement in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2001 to 2014. The findings show that 26,270 Afghan civilians lost their lives as a direct consequence of the war and wounded 29,900 ones. The total death toll reported in this report includes civilian casualties, Taliban and other insurgent groups, US and coalition forces, as well as welfare workers and journalists.

Unprecedented natural resource losses: Afghanistan’s mineral resources, estimated at between $ 1 trillion and $ 3 trillion, have been an attractive potential for a long time. But the same mineral resources also fueled war and armed conflicts in Afghanistan. In a country like Afghanistan where formerly widespread corruption, an active insurgency, and scarcity of infrastructure and institutions have crippled it, mineral resources represent another potential source of instability. Millions of dollars go through pockets of armed groups, insurgents and armed forces through the extraction of illegal mines, while Afghan people benefit from only a small portion of the wealth generated from these projects. The Afghan government benefits little from its natural mines. It is estimated that there are currently about 1,400 illegal mine extractions in Afghanistan. According to the Global Witness report, 2016, “Military earnings of warlords and Taliban from a small Badakhshan region are equal to the total income of the Afghan Government’s natural resources sector.”In 2014, armed groups from two districts of the Diodara mine in Karan and the Manjan in Badakhshan province earned about $ 20 million. Illegal extraction of mines only undermines the impact of the Afghan security forces and the legitimacy of the state, but also it is a major obstacle to the development of the economy, including the mining industry.

Increasing violence against women: Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission’s statistics echo that violence against women has increased in recent years. For example, Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission’s 2017 annual report shows that violence against women in Afghanistan has increased by 8.6%.The report states that 5575 cases of violence have been registered in 2017. This figure was 5132 in 2016.It projects a huge increase in violence against women over the past years. Of the total recorded violence, more than 1,500 cases of physical violence, more than 360 cases of sexual violence, more than 1,800 verbal and psychological violence, more than 1,100 cases of economic violence and remaining violence have been reported in response to behaviors that are traditionally (social traditions) are disgraceful. In the reported physical violence section, more than 1,200 cases of beatings, 10 incidents, 57 injuries, 45 forced labor and 234 deaths were included. The Independent Human Rights Commission says that the statistics do not show the full reality due to the extent of this problem, and many cases of violence against women are likely to remain hidden for reasons of custom and lack of security.

Mass migration and brain drain: the number of Afghan citizens who left the country in 2014 is more than those who left the country in 2001. According to United Nations statistics, since 2002, about 5 million immigrants have returned to Afghanistan, but the trend has fallen sharply over the past two years, and in 2014, only about 10,000 people have returned to Afghanistan. While in the first eight months of 2015, more than 122,000 Afghan citizens have requested asylum from European countries. Compared to the first six months of 2014, this figure that represents around 24,000 Afghan citizens who fled Afghanistan indicate a shocking increase in migration. Now the citizens of Afghanistan are the second largest refugee group in Europe. Among those who leave Afghanistan for other countries are mostly educated persons and professionals. The withdrawal of highly educated and highly trained people from Afghanistan is one of the bitter consequences of the war in that country. For sure, the withdrawal of human resources from Afghanistan will undermine its human resources. Many Afghan experts consider the deterioration of the security situation, the recession and the loss of labor opportunities and corruption in various organizations of the country as the main source of people’s frustration for the future.

Escalation of addicted persons and narcotics trade: in Afghanistan, drug addiction has become one of the most important health and social crises in recent years, and it can be said that due to the large volume of poppy production, on the one hand, the consequences of three decades of conflict, unemployment, and the weakness of strategic health programs, on the other hand, has heightened this dilemma its shadow every day. A recent study by the International Department of Counter Narcotics and the Law Enforcement of the US Department of State in cooperation with Afghan Ministries of Public Health and Counter Narcotics project that 11 percent of the Afghan population uses drugs. More surprisingly, according to some surveys, 12 to 41 percent of police forces are addicted to cannabis (New York Times, 2011). Similarly, in recent years, there has been an increase in drug use, and in particular, the use of drug injection throughout Afghanistan (Ted et al., 2009).This is due to the increase in the availability of and increased opium production in Afghanistan (UNODC, 2012), due to poor social and economic opportunities (Ted et al., 2009), the return of addicted migrants to Afghanistan (Hankins et al., 2002). The number of drug addicts in Afghanistan reached 920,000 in Afghanistan in 2005, according to Afghan Minister of Health 2005 report. The figure reached more than a million in 2009 and reached three million in 2014 that demonstrate a shocking increase.

Weak sovereignty despite granted billions of dollars by foreign countries: the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction 2016 report demonstrates that the United States since 2001 up to now had contributed $ 59.8 billion to equip, reinforce and train the armed forces of Afghanistan (40.2 billion to the army and 19.6 billion to the police) excluding 2017 and 2018 and other international donors’ contributions. The report adds that the Afghan government is controlling just over 61 percent of the country’s land, which has 68.5 percent of the country’s population (22 million out of 32.1 million). However, according to the report, 28.4 percent of the country’s land, which is home to 22.7 percent of the population (7.3 million), is in conflict and more than 10 percent of the rest of the country’s land is home to two million and eight thousand people (8.7% of the population) are under the control of insurgents.

Conclusion

Some analysts believe that the reappearance of al-Qaeda, Taliban control over parts of Afghanistan and the emergence of ISIL in the country indicate that Afghanistan is on the downside in its security. Moreover, the national and international critics’ voice regarding Afghanistan’s reconstruction process after 2001 is rampant and gets more widespread every day. They are criticizing the mismanagement of reconstruction works, spending international aids, prevailing financial and administrative corruption, lack of fairness and transparency in political process such as election and so on. What is disputed is the magnitude and quality of the changes that have taken place in Afghanistan over the past years. Some analysts believe the changes that Afghanistan underwent could be more fundamental and constructive if the Afghan government’s leaders have had serious determination in rebuilding the infrastructures of Afghanistan after the fall of Taliban regime in Nov. 2001. However, still, there is time until the end of the presence of foreign troops by 2024 to change the situation in Afghanistan.

Hamidullah Bamik is a Fulbright Scholar, education policy analyst, and a social development researcher. His research focus is on girl’s education and women empowerment, gender equality, good governance, and socio-economic development in South Asia but particularly Afghanistan. He has worked with World Bank Capacity Building Projectsat Supreme Audit Office of Afghanistan from 2013 to 2018 as a capacity building consultant. Currently, he is working as a social development researcher at Asia Culture House, a non-profit cultural and art organization based in Kabul, Afghanistan. Additionally, he is a frequent contributor on sociopolitical, socioeconomic, and social developmentissuesto Outlook and Etilaatroz, the two leading Newspapers in Afghanistan, and Modern Diplomacy, a leading European opinion-maker with far-reaching influence across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

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South Asia

Pakistan and Germany are keen to Sustain Multifaceted and Mutually beneficial Cooperation

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Pakistan has varied history of relationship and cooperation with other countries in international arena. Despite of proactive foreign policy Pakistan has been struggling to acquire global or regional status as a major power. Now in the age of globalization, the foreign relations between states have become more significant than before. Global and regional organizations, societies, economic zones and countries have network to attract and develop relationship among them. A major goal of Pakistan’s foreign policy is to develop good relations with international community and to handle global and regional issues. Activism of Pakistan‘s foreign policy reflects on the domestic socio-economic development. The national interest of Pakistan also support to regulate inputs from the external atmosphere into internal situation and to strive security and territorial integrity in the region and glob which always remained top concern of Pakistan. As bearing geo-strategic position, Pakistan seeks good relations with regional and global powers like America, China and European Union. Within European Union Germany has emergence as the developed economy in Europe. It is not only playing vital role within European Union but at the global level. Pakistan is also enjoying cordial relations with Germany on the base of common interest and perception on all international issues. Germany is also very keen to see sustainable development in Pakistan and acknowledges that the Pakistan is playing constructive role for regional peace. Germany greatly values Pakistan intense to strengthen multifaceted and mutual beneficial cooperation. Both the countries have been engaged on political, economic and socio-cultural partnership.

In past, East and West Germany had tilted towards forming alliance with India in 1950s but in 1960s, President Ayob Khan‘s visit to West Germany established economic relation between both the countries. Post Pak-India war 1971, East Germany was the first country of the Europe who recognized Bangladesh. During 1990s, Pakistan and Germany established Pakistan German Business Forum and Germany had become the fourth largest trade partner of Pakistan in 2000.  Germany also was ally of Pakistan in the war against terrorism in the north-west part of the country. Since the last few years, both the countries developed trade relations as well as Germany invested in the field of science and technology in Pakistan. On August 24, 2014, Germany built Pakistan Gate in Berlin to provide business and trade facilities to the businessmen of both the countries.

In November 2018, Pakistan offered Germany to join CPEC and to invest in the Special Economic Zone (SEZs). The mutual trade between both the countries enhanced to 3.0 billion euro in 2019.In 2021, Both Pakistan and Germany are celebrating 70th anniversary of establishment of bilateral relationship. Both the countries are planning to undertake several activities in this regard. Last month German Ambassador visited Karachi Chamber of Commerce and industries to call German companies, entrepreneurs and investors to earn from the potential and opportunities which are available in Pakistan and to bring business communities of both the countries more closer as well. Foreign minister of Pakistan has visited to Germany and meeting with business and members of Pakistani community. The foreign Minister held meetings with the leadership of Germany and repeated the desire of expansion of bilateral economic activities and exchange of technology. Both sides also discussed rapidly changing situation of Afghanistan and South Asian region. During the discussion, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Foreign Minister of Germany Heiko Mass, Pakistan and Germany agreed to review the entire gamut of Pakistan-Germany relationship and tools of further deep bilateral cooperation in the field of trade, investment security and defense, health, education, tourism. The mass of both the countries want to utilize the potential of good relationship but it is observed that both sides have lack of political hierarchy, dedication and sincerity in past. The development and expansion of bilateral relationship lies on the path of peaceful coexistence and serious changes in the socio-economic structure is needed. Peace process with the neighboring countries like Afghanistan and India may attract Germany to invest in CPEC projects and other local project of education, vocational training, dam construction, tourism and economic activities in Pakistan. There is a need to organize a forum for the students and scholars of both the countries could interact and exchange their expertise for academic, economic and technology growth. There is potential of people to people interaction and development of cooperation between Pakistan and Germany. Pakistan may be more benefit from the relationship with Germany if the serious efforts be made on government level.

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Modi’s Illiberal Majoritarian Democracy: a Question Mark on the Future of Indian Minorities

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The word majoritarian is an adjective which relates to or constitutes a majority, majoritarian politics, or majoritarian democracy. It can be defined as a traditional political idea, philosophy or a practice according to which any decision whether political, social, or economic of an organized society should be made by a numerical majority of that society or it can be defined as a traditional political philosophy that stresses that a majority usually branded by religious, language, social class that also includes other recognizing factors of individuals in a society are subject to a level of superiority in a society because of which they have a say in every affair of a society. The concept of majoritarian dispensation in India under Narendra Modi has deep links with four other political philosophies i.e. Populism, Nationalism, Authoritarianism, and Sultanism. Before exploring Narendra Modi’s majoritarian policy of governance in India and its effects on the future of Indian minorities, I will first uncover the link of majoritarianism to political philosophies as mentioned.

A majoritarian leader is actually a populist leader who works hard for the concerns of people that who thinks are being ignored by the established elite groups in a society, and who always present himself as a new man mostly of a modest and plebeian background against old political establishment, in spite of the fact that who is a seasoned political figure, but usually not centre stage. This is exactly what Narendra Modi is, because in his 2014 election campaign, he presented himself as a new man against the Ghandi’s family’s old political system despite the fact he was CM Gujrat at that time. He also presented himself as someone who belongs to a very plebeian background that he had to work in his father’s tea shop when he was a child. Whereas, nationalism is a political idea or a philosophy that promotes and protects the interests of a particular nation, nationalism is the bedrock of most of the populists and NarendraModi is no exception. NarendraModi is a majoritarian national-populist leader who since his childhood has been the member of RSS, and now is a full time pracharak of RSS ideology that stresses that Hindu are the true and only sons of this Indian soil.

Majoritarian national- populist leaders like Narendra Modi are basically authoritarian leaders who reject political pluralism, and this is exactly what Modi is doing in India.Modi  and the BJP has made it clear that no other party should compete with it, or is even needed, as indicative from its slogan of a ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ (a Congress-free India).Whereas, Sultanism is a form of authoritarian government and according to Max Weber NarendraModi is a new sultan of India who is pushing India towards illiberal democracy by rejecting all kind of civil liberties particularly of Indian Muslim minority.

Modi’s majoritarian policy of governance in India is basically the promotion of majoritarian democracy that asserts Hindus a special and superior status in India because they constitute 80.5% of total Indian population and that this majoritarian policy protests Hindutva ideology  that stresses that Hindus are the only sons of this soil and that strengthen the Hindu community. This majoritarian democracy is a big question mark on India as the world biggest liberal democracy because continuous violence, rejection of civil liberties, and crimes against the minorities that are Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians have been on the increase. About 1.8 million people who are minority communities are tortured in police custody every year. The word murder of minorities has been replaced by the term encounter killings. Torture have increased to such a huge extent that it questions the credibility of the rule of law and criminal justice. Hindu nationalists are revolting all around India especially against Muslims because they are the largest minority in India constituting 13.4% of total population and because Hindus have resentment toward their religion, Christians and Sikhs are no exception to their violence because they too constitute 2.3% and 1.9% of total Indian population.

Unfortunately, India under Narendra Modi is crawling from the world’s biggest liberal democracy to illiberal majoritarian democracy which is promoting and safeguarding only Hindu’s civil rights and liberties and that which is negating minority’s civil liberties and civil rights especially rights and liberties of Muslims of India. One such example of this is the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).Under the act, for the first time in India, religion is a basis for granting citizenship. According to some this citizenship amendment bill by BJP is an intentional act in order to marginalize Muslims from mainstream politics. In addition to this, Muslims are not only being tortured at their religious places for their religious affiliations, but they are also being tortured at their educational institutions which is evident from a video of 15 December 2020, where Delhi police brutally tortured Muslims students of Jamia Millia Islamia university.

Keeping in mind Narendra Modi’s illiberal majoritarian democracy, the future of liberal democracy or pluralistic India appears to be gloomy, where the future of Indian minorities especially Muslims is a big question mark. 

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CoVID-19 Control: Can Pakistan Learn From China?

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It has been over a year since the first case of CoVID-19 was confirmed in Pakistan. The tally has reached 721,018 confirmed cases, 15,443 have died and 4,143 critical cases by 11thApril2021. Across many countries, since January 2020, a massive surge of research into CoVID-19 had enabled the scientific and medical community to better understand how to manage and eliminate the virus through public health interventions. Today, we have learned, CoVID-19 causes acute symptoms and death. We have learned, immunity lasts at least eight months and we also have five licensed vaccines. We have learned, the long-term effects of CoVID-19 and the morbidity attached to having this virus. We have learned, virus transmission occurs through droplets and aerosols spread through coughing, sneezing, breathing and speaking. We also have learned, stopping the spread of CoVID-19 requires people to avoid mixing though restrictions on social life. We have learned, the virus can mutate into various strains that can be more transmissible – and we also have understand cat-and-mouse game between vaccine and variants.

To alleviate the destructive effects of CoVID-19 on the economy, Pakistan has sought debt relief of slightly around $2 billion from its G20 creditors. In addition to the G20 countries, China was the largest bilateral creditor with $9 billion, followed by Japan with $5 billion. By early April 2020, when there were just about 2,000 CoVID-19 positive cases in Pakistan, the World Bank approved $200 million package to help Pakistan. Likewise, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had approved the payout of $1.386 billion as financial support to Pakistan to meet its urgent balance of payment needs halting from the CoVID-19 outbreak. Further, to support Pakistan’s public health response to the CoVID-19 and allow to meet the basic needs of the vulnerable and poor segment of society, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved $500 million emergency assistance loan to Pakistan. Similarly, The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) also provided a $650 million financial package to support Pakistan in its efforts against the CoVID-19. All these grants were provided to Government of Pakistan to assist in effective and timely action in response to the spread of the CoVID-19. The objective was to strengthen Pakistan’s public health infrastructure and to alleviate socioeconomic disruptions due to the pandemic. Despite huge grants and substantial endowments, Pakistan’s response to the CoVID-19 has been unsatisfactory. Lack of basic healthcare infrastructure, disease surveillance and management system,  and inconsistent implementation of policies and SOPs resulted in the rapid and incessant spread of third-wave of CoVID-19 throughout the county.

China’s extraordinary organized and preventive risk management approach, established on coalition between government officials, virologists, epidemiologists and public health experts, has demonstrated to be successful in containing and controlling CoVID-19.The experience in China emphasized the significance of listening to science and public health experts during pandemic event. Firstly, China’s response demonstrates the value of national research and public health capability. Huge investment in research and development rendered China much better prepared for CoVID-19. China’s experience indicates the value of investing in national health and research scheme to boost laboratory capacity along with workforce. They are essential to a rapid and effective national response to health emergencies and to national health security. Secondly, a strong foundation of research and development cannot ensure effective control without powerful top-level political dedication to use science to confront the outbreak. Government and leaders must respect science, understand its significance, and act on science-based advice in a way that is best for society. Thirdly, attaining speedy and successful implementation of control measures for CoVID-19 requires extensive community engagement. Public solidarity during the CoVID-19 outbreak in China had been unprecedented. Control measures that could sacrifice personal freedom were accepted readily by the nation.

To be brief, cricket is to South Asia and football is to Europe. In fighting CoVID-19, everyone is equal. Everyone has the identical liability and shares the equal threat. The effective implementation of prevention and control measures in China is a model for Pakistan other parts of world to follow. From the beginning, a science-based, risk-informed and phased approach was taken, with a clear appreciation and enthusiasm. Today, China has restarted its economy, reopened and almost returned to normality. The key of success story is to make everybody responsible, get every single division involved and held executives accountable. These are the most prominent lessons Pakistan could learn from China at national and local levels. After the failure of “Smart-Lockdown” strategy, Pakistan needs to choose a strict strategy, should follow the example of China and continue the lockdown until the number of CoVID-19 infections is brought close to zero; the strategy should then be to maintain infection rates at very low level until vaccination is done. China’s epidemic management provides an important experience from which countries such as Pakistan can learn. This applies in particular to Pakistan, which would risk to lose many of its achievements in case of a severe third wave of the epidemic. Government of Pakistan should involve not only public health experts, virologists and epidemiologists, but also scientist and respect science advice when making any decision that is required to keep the epidemic under control. The rest of the world can also learn from China’s success in bringing outbreak under control.

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