Let’s get real, the trend of people popularising panic driven videos is not going to die down any time soon, especially not at a time when the whole of Pakistan is quarantined in their homes, frantically swiping on their feeds for new content – or as MangoBaaz would put it, “Content that’s as juicy,” as you guessed it “Pakistani mango.”
One such video made rounds on social media on Tuesday, 24th March, on the second day of lockdown. The subsequent fall out caused the hashtag ‘#MariaB’ to trend at the number one spot on Twitter well into the night.
In the initial video, uploaded by CEO of PMC Positive, Omar R Quraishi, a distressed Maria B can be seen pleading to Prime Minister Imran Khan for his help – regarding the arrest of her husband.
“This is an appeal to Prime Minister Imran Khan. Last night my house was raided by policemen as if I was the biggest drug mafia don in Lahore,” states Maria B.
She goes on to describe how her husband was arrested in the middle of the night, by armed policemen. Maria B states the police made the arrest based on an FIR, in the absence of a lawyer at half past midnight.
“They kept saying to us, you, you are culprits. We are the ones who are suffering,” states Maria B, with her back towards an ornate chandelier and what seems to be a large foyer complete with a ceiling to floor window looking onto a lush green lawn.
“We are the ones who are culprits? We are the ones who need to be arrested by you guys? Really?”
According to a report by Geo News, a spokesperson for the police states the arrest was made after registering an FIR against Tahir Saeed for hiding the test result of their cook and sending him to his hometown.
The entire village of Karam Pur will now have to be quarantined as a result due to the criminal act of Tahir Saeed, shares the spokesman.
This does not account for the many people the cook must have come into contact with before and during his journey. Let’s reiterate the protocol being followed worldwide when someone tests positive for COVID-19: isolation. Isolate yourself where you are. Do not interact with others, do not travel, stay put.
It can be said that Maria B and her husband are educated individuals who most definitely had access to information regarding the protocol of isolation – why then did Maria B and her husband make the decision to send a patient who tested positive for COVID-19, who could infect others, and may possibly require healthcare which is easily accessible in the city as compared to a village, back home? If this isn’t sheer negligence and selfishness, what is.
Maria B’s husband was released on bail hours after being taken into custody. The famous – perhaps infamous would be more appropriate a word now – designer and her husband made another video (while sitting in another posh area of their ornate home) following Saeed’s bail.
“I want to thank Prime Minister Imran Khan, I didn’t think anyone would care for my pain,” states a much more composed Maria B. But let’s get one thing straight, Maria B’s “pain” is synonymous with entitlement, it reeks of privilege and singular self interest.
For some reason, Maria B’s husband starts off by talking about how Prime Minister Imran Khan is avoiding a lockdown and urging people not to panic. He goes on to blame the police incident on “pure panic.” “This is abuse and this is harassment,” states Tahir Saeed.
He also describes how the police used their guns to bang on their door, and that when he went outside, three police vans were present, with around 20 policemen. Was so much man power needed to take in Maria B’s husband? Probably not, especially in the time of social distancing. Her husband also alleges that not all policemen were wearing masks – let it be noted though, that masks are only recommended for those coming in direct contact with COVID-19 patients or those who are suffering from COVID-19 themselves.
The ten minute video, published on Maria B’s business page – for some odd reason, maybe because it has a following of 2.6 million people and they wanted to leverage their viewers to up the sympathy vote – chronicles the event in excruciating detail:
“They treated us like criminals. We are both responsible citizens of the country,” reiterates Tahir Saeed.
They also attempt fleetingly to change the narrative by stating that people will now refuse to get tested based on the panic that is being caused by the police force.
With three minutes remaining in the first video, Maria B holds up a paper, stating it is her husband’s result from Chugtai Lab, showing he tested negative. The screenshot appears briefly on screen during the video, it can also be found – you guessed it – on Maria B’s official instagram page which touts, “We ship all over the world!” Please note, that is is not a report of the cook testing negative.
“Now let me tell you about the case they made on us. You will laugh, it made me cry, but it will probably make you laugh. This is typical of the police. They are geniuses at making up such stories,” states Maria B, before sharing the incident regarding her cook:
“My cook went to leave for Vihari. He came back on the 11th or 12th of March. There was a lot of security in place by then. The quarantine was going on. On the 18th, he said I am having symptoms. He had fever for one day, and he had a cough. When he came and told me, I said we are in quarantine, we have small children. Acting as the responsible individual on behalf of my staff, I called Chugtai Labs and got him tested.”
“Two days later, I called Chugtai Labs and they said the test was positive. I was distraught after that, as a mother, the same would happen in every other household. This was our responsibility right? They told us it was positive, and that’s that, they didn’t guide us further. And in the lack of any guidance, what can we do? I told him to quarantine himself in the servant quarter where another family also lives.”
“After a few hours of being quarantined, he called me and said, ‘You have quarantined me over here, with another family, what if they get it? I have no symptoms now, I just had fever for one day. If you want to quarantine me, send me home. My sisters and brothers live with me, they will take care of me.’”
“Now I want to say, there was no government directive at that time, the Chugtai Labs were silent too. So let me ask you? What will you do? Are these servants our slaves? Should we keep them locked up? He made a request to me and it made sense to me as a mother. When he said I have corona, and corona is corona, yeah it made sense to me. I said, of course you should go, your siblings will be able to care for you better, and these children will be safe too, and the corona wouldn’t spread.”
At this point, Maria B’s husband interjects with, “I want to clarify that we did not force him to leave. At first I advised him not to leave, and asked him to stay here. But because of the situation in the house, we came to this agreement between us that it will be better that we send him. We gave him a few guidelines before he left. Firstly, he will not take public transport, we gave him extra money for this.”
Maria B repeats “We gave him extra money” for those watching who did not hear her husband the first time.
“He said I will go to my village with my brother on his car. He was going with his brother, but we still gave him extra money”
“Yup,” chimes in Maria B.
“I clearly asked him, do you have an extra room in your house, to which he replied yes,” continues her husband, “I told him that he should stay in that room, you are not to interact with anyone, you are COVID-19 positive, because of you, Coronavirus can pass on to others, so you have to be very very careful,” states Saeed.
The statements made in the video by Maria B and her husband point to sheer negligence and possibly deep rooted ignorance. It is impossible to believe that the couple was oblivious to how communicable the disease is when google is one click away. Despite there being a lack of guidance from Chugtai Labs and a government directive, those who are privileged enough to look up information should actively do so – and despite Maria B claiming that she does not come from a place of privilege – she is certainly part of society’s demographic which is unfortunately considered “educated”.
The actions of Maria B and her husband are criminal – wether they root from ignorance or a belief that their elitist standing makes them untouchable.
Surprisingly enough, Maria B ended her twenty minute long video which didn’t even have a shred of humility with a collective prayer for Pakistan during the pandemic. Probably the only thing Maria B can do now to save face, is launch a CSR campaign, but considering her marketing team approved these two videos, the possibility of something remotely sensical coming out of this fiasco remain slim.