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OBSERVATIONS by a number of UN organisations put together in one volume by the UNDP have once again tried to make us confront a reality that we have been too shy to acknowledge. The assessment, Covid-19 - Pakistan Socio-economic Impact Assessment and Response Plan, says how a top-down authoritative style of governance can weaken the social contract between society and state.

The picture that emerges is not too different to the one regularly painted by the local press and other keen watchers. The study is populated with familiar dissatisfied traders affected by 'unilateral' government decisions, with medics having to work without personal protective equipment and people left at the mercy of an inefficient system of testing and tracking.

There are no revelations when it talks about the threat of mental health issues in the wake of Covid-19, about lost livelihoods - though coming from UN agencies these lines would sound almost like an indictment. The better option is the old but, in Pakistan's case, seldom taken course of...

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