Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pakistan engulfed in seas of woes

Sixty-three years of Independence have passed. But this time Independence Day, amid the "heart-wrenching" devastation caused by the worst floods to hit Pakistan in history, was somber than ever. From a close look at few decades from now, I realize how much of Pakistan has tainted. It’s lamentable and indeed hard for a devoted Pakistani to consider as truth, but it is what the current state of Pakistan so strongly indicates.

The present Pakistan is not the one Quaid wanted to be. Jinnah's once liberal and progressive Pakistan is now looked by the international community as a forefront of terrorism. The present Pakistan is not the one Iqbal dreamt of. He dreamed of a united Pakistan where ethnic tensions and conflicts were not prominent. The present Pakistan is not the one Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto so proudly spoke about. He spoke about a Pakistan where rulers served people and despised living lives of extravagances. We, the unfortunate people, have certainly left behind the Pakistan our forefathers lived and struggled for.

It’s not the first time we are confronting a calamity. People of Pakistan valiantly faced up to the challenges of the 2005 earthquake and the crisis of the IDPs last year. But the enormity of the destruction caused by the floods this year is unprecedented. According to estimates, the floods have killed more than 1600 people, destroyed 8 million acres of crops, and rendered around 2- 5 million homeless. The shocking waves of flood swallowed with them the housings and livestock of the poor who had no other wealth or property, and who currently starve in camps with nothing to eat and drink. Under the sky, these moth and snakes bitten unfortunate people living in poor sanitary conditions, now become disposed to deadly waterborne and skin diseases. The situation can’t be more appalling. The sight of Pakistani brothers and sisters raising hands and fighting over the food distributed is the most troubling one to my mind and emotions. And this just does not stop here. Once the flood stops, more aid will be required for complete rehabilitation of the villages washed away. With one-fifth of the country flooded, infrastructure of the affected areas has been severely damaged. Also, crops worth of billions have been cleaned out causing substantial agricultural and economic loss to the country. For a country already afflicted with inflation and economic instability, these losses will have unimaginable consequences in the form of food shortages and price hikes.

The destruction of such large scale as this obviously requires to be met with considerable domestic and international aid. Despite all of it, we do not find the same zeal among our Pakistani fellows to donate as we did during the 2005 earthquakes, though the situation is eventually getting better. And we are certainly not getting enough aid from the international community. Even though Britain, USA, Saudi Arabia, Canada, World Bank, and UN are providing aid, there is no response from other international organizations like European Union, SAARC and Nato countries. According to statistics by BBC, the donation for a survivor of flood amount to $6.89. But compare it with the donation per survivor of the Haiti earthquake which amount to $669.90. Now, Is it because Pakistan has become extremely unpopular? Or is it because donors are not that motivated to donate owing to many recent disasters? Or is it because of biased media coverage (interesting article)?

Having sufficient aid is just not enough, it is equally important that there proper and strategic use be made. Without efficient disaster management and tactical planning, it would be hard to meet the tasks on hand. A large number of people suffer from indecisiveness to make a contribution only because they believe it won’t be spent on those in dire need. An obnoxious air of distrust has overwhelmed people. But now with the formation of a transparent fund raising committee and the growing understanding of the terrible nature of the disaster, people are willing to contribute.

It’s not adequate to talk about the tribulations only. When we are put into difficult situation, there is always a way out. Though the misery we are in is of exceptionally high degree, it does not make us helpless. As citizens of this nation, we all have role to play at such crucial time as this is when every 1 of 10 is suffering.

Our instant duty should be to contribute and help in whatever capacity we fit in. In fact, we should try to do as much as we can in this blessed month of Ramadan. Instead of squandering all our pennies on extravagant Iftar parties, let us contribute that little also on our millions of brothers and sisters who lost everything. And it is important to note that our contributions should not stop after Ramadan. We would only be able to get out of this dreadful disaster, if we continue contributing. May ALLAH help and bless Pakistan. Ameen.

Image courtesy: boston. com and CNN

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