Mask on, mask off By Zarrar Khuhro


IF you’ve tried to talk sense to a coronavirus conspiracy theorist, you must have realised by now that you simply cannot win.

Take the popular conspiracy theory that hospitals are paying patients up to Rs5 lakh to get them to declare the deaths of their loved ones as coronavirus related. Now, logically, one could argue that you could hire a target killer for far less — Rs1 lakh for a proper professional — and then pocket the rest making it a fairly bad bargain for the hospitals who will undoubtedly then see people driving up trucks filled with corpses looking to make a tidy, if morbid, profit.

You may also pause to wonder why hospitals would want to do such a thing, and there it gets really interesting because this isn’t just a payment… it’s an investment! An investment in what, you ask? Debt relief and aid money of course! Here’s where the cast of conspirators gets larger because, you see, it’s the government wanting to inflate Pakistan’s Covid-19 numbers to get millions (maybe even billions) of dollars in free money from whomever is handing out the said free money. According to Nabil Gabol, that who is the WHO (World Health Organisation) which has struck a deal to pay $3,000 to the families of Covid-19 victims. And the WHO is somehow managing this despite being seriously strapped for cash itself.

So we have the WHO handing money to the government which will hand money to the hospitals who will hand that money to the relatives of deceased patients for mis-declaring their deceased loved ones as Covid-19 victims. And all of this ties in with the prime minister’s nefarious plan to get Pakistan’s debt written off; after all, he just called for it at the World Economic Forum, hence proving all of this as fact. Real, tangible, hardcore, undisputed fact. That’s also probably why he refuses to wear a mask most of the time, as what can be more convincing than a prime minister contracting this virus? I mean, that’ll certainly make the IMF throw free money at you, right?

We can always do what we do best: remain in denial.

But more on that later because, let’s face it, there really is no such thing as the coronavirus to begin with. It is in fact a conspiracy by the global elite/ illuminati/ Freemasons (are they still around?) with a supporting role by the Learned Elders of Zion, all secretly led by the vaccine-mongering Bill Gates who plans to make us fake-sick by planting 5G towers everywhere to get us to ingest a vaccine that contains nanoparticles that will control us, eventually turning humanity into the acolytes of the Antichrist/ illuminati/ Freemasons and possibly the Teletubbies. I know this because I saw it on YouTube.

Oh, all right… let’s say for the sake of argument that it does actually exist, does that mean that the average Pakistani should be worried? Not at all. We are, after all, somehow blessed above most other nations with a magical resistance to this virus (if that turns out to be true I’ll eat my words so quickly you’ll believe I never said otherwise) and thus can throw caution to the wind like so many airborne droplets and carry on.

And if that fails, we can always do (and are in fact doing) what we arguably do best: remain in denial. It’s sort of like playing hide-and-seek with a four-year-old who, having closed his eyes while standing in plain sight, feels that since he can’t see you, you can’t see him either. That may sound amusing until you realise that this is exactly what our national approach was during the long, dark years of terrorism when every day brought a new atrocity. Consider how many thousands of deaths it took for us to wake up to the fact that terrorism in Pakistan was real, and was largely perpetrated by our ‘own’ people.

Now compare that to the relatively paltry toll of the coronavirus thus far and you’ll see that we are nowhere even close to the denial threshold. No wonder then, then that we cough in the face of SOPs and spit at social distancing.

However, if you are one of those unfortunate souls who still believe that Covid-19 is a real danger then I have only one piece of advice: wear a mask. This doesn’t have to be a really expensive high-quality mask, it can be any face covering so long as it covers your mouth and nose. You don’t have to wear it all the time, but please do so in closed and crowded spaces and wherever you are in close contact with others.

Please also note that masks are not meant to be worn on the face and not on the chin, as our press conference-obsessed politicians seem to believe. No, they are not meant to hide or reduce your double chin like some modern-day face corset. They are also not meant to dangle loosely from your ear like some warped medical earring. Masks go on the face, and — take it from the Asians — they work, even if you don’t believe in them.

The writer is a journalist.

Twitter: @zarrarkhuhro

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2020