by Rahil Khan
While the scope of the destruction caused by the floods in Pakistan is heart-wrenching, the relief efforts are even more frustrating. The way the worst crisis in Pakistan was handled by the government, especially by our President Zardari, you would know that they are simply not competent to deal with the scale of the disaster.
I am afraid our leaders are politicizing this disaster and some are probably even drooling over the prospects of more riches as international aid arrives in a country where the corruption runs deeper than the rising water of the worst flood in its history.
Today, Mr. Zardar vowed to take the country out of this grave challenge. “I know the losses suffered by growers because I am also a farmer.”
Just for the record, Mr. Zardari is NOT a farmer. He is a wadera – a Landlord who collects whatever the farmers harvest! While the real farmers are the ones who have lost their homes as well as their livelihood, waderas like Mr. Zardari will resume their earnings the next season after the water recedes. Historically, the waderas’ job was simply to collect taxes from farmers on behalf of the government, a remnant of the colonial era.
And where is the international community? It seems that we have become desensitized to natural disasters that have swept across the globe in recent times.
“This has been a heart-wrenching day for me,” UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, said after visiting the flood-hit areas in Punjab with President Asif Ali Zardari.
“I will never forget the destruction and suffering I have witnessed today. In the past I have witnessed many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this.”
The world body has appealed for an initial $460 million to provide relief, but only 20 per cent has so far been promised.
Flood victim Kalu Mangiani complains that government officials only came to hand out aid when media were present. “They are throwing packets of food to us like we are dogs. They are making people fight for these packets,” he adds.
The people of Pakistan have found themselves between rock and a hard place following the Afghanistan war – with all the deadly drone strikes. But what is ironic is that one of the first organizations to have pledged meals for the displaced victims is Jamaat-ud-Dawa – an organization that features on the UN terrorism blacklist.
When the international community is slow to respond to a calamity that is more devastating than the 2004 tsunami, the victims have every right to feel betrayed by both the government and the international community at large.