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Monday, July 15, 2024

Unprecedented floods in Pakistan

Heavy monsoon rains and floods have affected 2.3 million people in Pakistan since mid-June. More than 504,000 livestock have been killed, nearly all of them in Balochistan, while nearly 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) of roads and 129 bridges have been damaged, blocking access to flood-affected areas.

Almost every year, Pakistan faces floods. The bigger impact has always been southwards. Every year the civil administration after vainly trying to rescue the people and their belongings puts their hands up and seeks assistance from the army to combat the floods and to carry out rescue and relief operations. The response of the political parties has also been dismal. The army soldiers always stood up to the challenge and did their work zealously.

Apart from the soldiers, the Islamic charity groups and the philanthropists have carried out their duties diligently.

Read more: Record floods kill 675 people in Pakistan

Floods have caused massive destruction of livelihood

Soon after the floods recede, life gets back to normal and the civil administration goes back to sleep and waits for the next disaster. Neither it puts any efforts to improve the capacity and efficiency of the outfit responsible for combating the floods, nor any effort is made to take preventive measures, such as building strong bunds at sensitive spots, and also streamlining battle drills for rescuing the marooned people to safe areas.

Jhelum city which used to get flooded each year during the monsoon season has been made safe by constructing a 13 ft high bund along the home bank of River Jhelum in 2015 and since then, the city has remained safe.

Why can’t such like bunds be made in southern Punjab and interior Sindh which are prone to flooding?

The other issue is that the Sindhi Waderas have built rivulets and bunds to protect their lands and to let the excessive flood water flow towards nearby villages. This is criminal.

The current floods are unprecedented and as usual, the response of the top political parties and civil society leaves much to be desired.

It is unfortunate that the already economically crippled country has been badly hit by the heavy rains causing the loss of over 200 human lives. A large number of cattle drowned in the floods, huge cultivated land areas were swept away, and tens of thousands of houses were damaged. Roads and bridges are damaged by the flash floods, causing a loss of billions of rupees.

Read more: How flash floods have affected the people of Balochistan

Political uncertainty vs natural disasters

The worst affected regions are Balochistan followed by Southern Punjab, interior Sindh and Northern Areas of KPK. The National Disaster Management team has failed to live up to the expectations, and the people in general and the political parties, in particular, are a disappointment.

The whole nation is more interested in the Pakistani American Shahbaz Gill case, or in whether Imran Khan will be arrested or not. Other than some activity by the PM and some welfare relief work on the ground by Alkhidmat Foundation, Jamaat ut Dawa and one odd other NGO, the rest of the INGOs and NGOs are inactive.

The PTI, PPP, PML (N), MQM, JUI, ANP, etc are busy with their political issues and have so far not made any contributions on the ground.

Our retired Army officer’s forums are also busy in political point scoring and going out of the way to glorify IK.

The PTI-affiliated women are hysteric and are pledging to sacrifice their lives and children for the sake of IK. They are threatening the law enforcement agencies and the army that they will have to go over their dead bodies to arrest IK. The media is gleefully showing emotional outbursts.

Had this disaster come in major cities, by now the whole world would have spun into action, but perhaps we are least interested in the humanitarian crisis of our rural remote areas.

Read more: Pakistan in the midst of chaos

Pak army’s efforts are commendable

True to its tradition, the Pakistan Army is assisting the civil government, where ever they were called upon. The police are also giving a helping hand.

I reckon it is high time for all of us to shift our focus toward the flood-stricken people who have been rendered homeless and have no food, water and shelter. Their meager belongings have been swept away. Their ordeal is not over since more rain and floods are expected in the coming weeks.

The civil and military forums must put aside all the political issues for at least a month or so, and chalk out plans on how to provide succor to the needy in their hour of agony. Plans should be made to despatch rations, items of clothing and cash. Welfare organizations and philanthropists should be approached for providing assistance. Someone from Sindh promised to build 100 houses in Balochistan.

Read more: Recent floods in Balochistan and its implications

In cooperation with South Asian Pulse headed by Dr. Rana Baqi, Thinkers Forum Pakistan chaired by me has collected funds and rations and has sent the same to the victims of floods through the Baluchistan government.


The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, took part in an epic battle of Hilli, defense & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, & Member CWC PESS & Think Tank. He can be reached at asifharoonraja@gmail.com.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.