Reviewing Sindh’s 2020 socio-political landscape | The Express Tribune



KARACHI:

On New Year’s Eve of 2020, the world had not the faintest of inkling about the coming year’s trajectory. Unbeknownst to what the future holds, many shared glad tidings, made resolutions and planned ahead. However, the advent of the global coronavirus pandemic changed everything. Borders closed, schools shut, and businesses suspended- the world as we know it came to a brief standstill.

Coming towards the end of the year, the world has learned a great many things, but is now inching towards some sense of normalcy. The year 2020 will probably go down in history as perhaps one of the most peculiar periods in human existence. In the fast-paced financial capital of the country, Covid19 made its first appearance in the last week of February. Although there had been international chatter about what was then painted out to be a Chinese virus, no one in Karachi could fathom the mega-city coming to a halt because of it. Yet however, a month later, the virus had multiplied beyond imagination, owing to which the province went into a complete lockdown.

The coming months saw a complete overhaul of administrative priorities across all governments. Government efforts were now exhaustively shifted towards curbing the spread of the mysterious virus, making everything else of little account. The sudden shutdown flung Sindh into what can be considered one of the biggest socio-economic spirals the province had ever seen.

All political activities came to a complete standstill between the months of March to August, when the province was experiencing the worst of Covid-19. Thousands of people who lost employment during this period, were forced to turn towards the breadline. A change which greatly burdened the city’s welfare organisations.

For that brief moment, it appeared that the government, the non-government, the opposition, the military, religious leaders and philanthropist, had all come together to aid a city in turmoil through various relief efforts.

Among things which saw an overhaul, the most surprising was perhaps the big-fat-Pakistani-wedding phenomenon. Although Covid-19 restrictions could barely keep citizens from their favourite pastime, much of the weddings which took place in 2020 remained limited to small gatherings and fewer events.

In the same vein, the metropolis city also saw the cancellation of various events and festivals which had been lined up for 2020. Karachi’s various open-parks and event spaces, which usually serve as roistering grounds for the city’s fabled food and music festivals, largely remained sullen and empty this year.

Politics in the latter-half of 2020

However, the unspoken political coalitions could only last as long as the turbulence. Later, in September, when the province began to gather some semblance of recovery, the political blame-game was soon back in fashion and so were the demonstrations.

The local government term came to a conclusion this year. Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rose against the federal government, hosting a formative meeting at Bagh-e-Jinnah on October 18. During the meeting, PDM parties strongly criticised the federal government of Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaf (PTI). In addition, the Pakistan Sarzameen Party (PSP) also demonstrated its public power at the same venue. Large, vehement rallies were also held under various religious parties against the publication of blasphemous images in France. In addition to that, Jamaat-e-Islami (JUI) held a public referendum on the issues faced by Karachi while Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Pakistan also carried out various political activities this year, albeit on a limited scale.





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