Archive for the ‘floods’ tag
In the last three days, floods caused by monsoon rains have reportedly killed at least 430 people in the country, the worst to have hit the region since 1929. According to the Associated Press, “The rising toll from the monsoon rains underscore the poor infrastructure in impoverished Pakistan, where under-equipped rescue workers were struggling to reach people stranded in far-flung villages.” More than a million people have been affected by the disaster, and many have been displaced from their homes as the floods submerge villages and bridges, bloat rivers, and trigger landslides throughout the northwest of the country. A state of emergency has reportedly been declared in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and authorities have told people to evacuate the banks of theKabul and Swat rivers. Residents in Muzafarabad also told the BBC there was no electricity or drinking water in parts of the city.
As the Pakistani Army transfers people to safety by helicopters and boats, the United Nations announced they will be launching rescue efforts in 29 affected districts in K-P (The UN agency has already launched similar efforts inBalochistan).
But after the rains subside, what will be the long-term impact of these floods? And, given Pakistan’s recent spate of militant attacks, political instability, natural disasters and plane crashes, how much more can our country take? Fahad Desmukh echoed my sentiments exactly when he tweeted, “God is giving the terrorists tough competition.”
(Ahsan at Five Rupees also has a great post on the issue of class in the coverage of national tragedies, looking at both the Airblue plane crash and the floods, see here).
Recent events have made me stop in my tracks and think again and prioritize again what is most important in my life! Whatever that is you see around you, you feel as if the fitna (trial and afflictions) that have been foretold in the Ahadeeth are actually happening around us! Death, suffering, calamities, lies, deceit, zulm,etc. everything as they’ve been explained more than 1430 years ago.
The plane crash, the floods, and then famine, diseases, and then people in other cities killing one another as if there isn’t enough suffering and death all around the country without the gunpowder! Plus LIES! I mean there has to be a limit for how much you can lie shamelessly! I remember writing an article few months back that media should confirm and then say something on any news that’s been brought to them. Why was there a need to say that six people are taken out alive and are injured in the plane crash?! Why is there a pack of lies on tv all the time. Then you see all those tv men going in the places of calamities and plane crashes and they just go there for reporting and not bringing about any relief to the people living there who have suffered so much! I remember tv people reaching earthquake hit areas in helicopters and were not there to provide relief but just for reporting purposes!
Anyway, forget that. Imagine a minister on tv saying that for rehabilitation of all those flood struck people, we should provide them with LOANS! hadd hai! Later they’d ask those poor people to return it with 13% interest rate? And they would sit in their air conditioned rooms and eat away all our tax money and become fat! Where are those stupid NGOs who have been funded by US to work in Pakistan, maybe they are just entertaining blackwater army in here.
Time and again Quran says that “yahood-o-nasara” can never be your friends, but the leaders of this country would go on licking their boots and bowing to them for funds and loans and then eat away all that money and put the pressure of more tax on the poor people of this country!
These natural calamities, these sufferings, these deaths that we experience everyday, they are not a test! The test we have failed! This is the harvest of what we’ve sowed for so many years! It’s time that we stop in our tracks and we prioritize our aims in life! Because we don’t have time now… These are the times that we should stick to the “Rope of Allah” or else we’ll be washed away by the trials and afflictions that have hit us so hard!
Times like these when a blessing from God becomes a cause of concern, creating death and destruction for some, should shake people out of the usual routine and be a cause for reflection. Especially for those in charge of running the affairs of the country, the devastating floods in many districts should have served as a wake-up call. What we saw instead were the same old hackneyed images: the President planting a tree to inaugurate the plantation campaign and the Prime Minister surveying the flood-affected areas from a helicopter.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with the concept of plantation drives or the Prime Minister being well-informed about the situation in flood-hit areas. The problem is that the two leading lights of Pakistan could be spending their time in activities that are more productive than the hypocritical symbolism of watering a sapling or helicopter rides over people in misery. Would the Prime Minister’s helicopter try to pick up someone marooned amidst the flood or drowning? Doesn’t it make more sense for the helicopter to be doing relief work rather than lugging around its honourable passenger?
The point is that other than showing their concern, which obviously is the idea behind these public relations exercises, these activities really amount to not much. If the President was really pushed about planting trees, he would not waste time making a show of it but actually do something about it. If he could put his heart and soul into riling up his jiyalas against the mysterious hidden hands through fiery speeches, he could also make an effort to use his influence over his party loyalists to enlist their support in the plantation campaign.
He could easily motivate his MNAs, MPAs, and partymen spread all over Pakistan and set a plantation target for each one of them for their respective areas. After all, these partymen are given targets for bussing people to the shows of strength organised for their leaders, and they happily comply. Planting trees would be less expensive and less of a hassle. Saplings do not need to be convinced and cajoled into travelling to the jalsas and they need not be given stipends and food boxes for the trip either. But clearly, the President is only interested in the show and is not really bothered about the success of the routine plantation campaign that should have turned Pakistan into a green haven by now if it had any substance.
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal released an op-ed by President Asif Ali Zardari defending his Europe tour, a trip that garnered tremendous criticism and even resulted in shoes being lobbed in his direction.
Yes, shoes. Nice throwback to Bush in Iraq in 2008, don’t you think?
In the article “written” by Zardari, he noted,
As the floods hit the country, I faced a dilemma as head of state. I could stay in Pakistan and support the prime minister in our response to the floods, or I could continue with a scheduled visit abroad. I chose to use my travels to mobilize foreign assistance—money, supplies, food, tents, medical care, engineers, clean water and medicine—for our people. Some have criticized my decision, saying it represented aloofness, but I felt that I had to choose substance over symbolism.
To an extent, I agree with the-aide-writing-as-Zardari. If he had stayed in Pakistan instead of jetting off to Europe, would that have made an enormous difference to the government’s response, or lack thereof, to the floods? Probably not.
He went on to add,
I might have benefited personally from the political symbolism of being in the country at the time of natural disaster. But hungry people can’t eat symbols. The situation demanded action, and I acted to mobilize the world.
Mister President, I agree with fellow bloggers that media attention on your trip has been overblown and took away from the much more serious issues at hand. But I am not sure a Europe jaunt was the necessary step in “mobilizing the world.” Couldn’t a phone call have sufficed? Skype? A few smiley faces and lol’s can go a long way these days.
But regardless of our feelings toward Zardari’s trip, the series of developments prior to and upon his return are even more frustrating. After the GEO and ARYtelevision networks aired the shoe-hurling incident against Zardari, the two stations’ signals were reportedly “blacked out” in parts of Sindh. Geo’s managing director Azhar Abbas told CNN, “Activists of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party are threatening cable operators to take Geo off the air as well as cut cables of operators in Karachi and interior Sindh.” Copies of the Jang group’s daily Urdu newspaper, the Daily Jang, were also set on fire, and when a group of PPP activists surrounded Geo’s building Tuesday, “law enforcement groups did nothing to stop them.”
While the threat of media groups is a dangerous phenomenon, it is also exacerbated by these outlets’ responses, which sensationalize reports and further this cycle. All the while, the attention that should be dedicated to the 14 million affected by the floods in Pakistan is diverted to far less important things. So shame on you. Shame on all of you.
Looking around at the situation facing our home land, I find nothing more true than what Napoleon was noted saying toward the end of his reign…..
“ When misfortunes come, they come in a battalion”
Floods have played havoc all over Pakistan like never before. Initial estimates reveal that the flooding in KPK, Punjab and Sindh is the worst seen in over 80 years. Adding more salt to the wounds, new predictions have been made by the met department regarding more rainfalls in the effected areas. The death toll is rising every minute, while the list of those requiring relief is climbing to the sky.
For Pakistan and its natives, this is nothing new. From the day we came into being, we have always been tested to our limits. But its also true that the pages of history have been rewritten when ever we have been faced by such a situation. I have no reason to take you far behind in order to prove this point.
Just 5 years back on the dreadful morning of 8th October 2005, we were hit one of the most deadly earthquake of the 21st century. The whole infrastructure, relief apparatus and much more was transformed into dust. But, to the amazement of the entire planet, Pakistanis themselves fought their way out of this. From Khyber till Karachi tales lay written on every corner regarding the sacrifice we took upon our selves. Whatever the figures say, its crystal clear that for the 1st whole week it was the armed forces, local community and volunteers from every corner who spearheaded the relief effort. No doubt we were outstandingly supported by the International community to which we are still grateful, but it was our own courage as a nation which turned the tide around.
Having hardly recovered from that menace, we were struck by another catastrophe mid way into the last year. The inevitable military action against TTP in Swat left the homeland bleeding. On one hand our brave troops were fighting the barbarians while sacrificing their best, while at the same time grief stricken natives of that area had no option but to make a run for their life. It was estimated that around 2 million souls were made IDPs due to the fighting. To the amazement of the world who were predicting the fall of Islamabad to those “Zaliman’s”, not only were they defeated but every Pakistani came out to play the role of a host to those in need of help. The situation emerged so quickly but the spirit and sacrifice of Pakistani nation changed every thing.
Today as I write, the situation is no different from those dreadful days mentioned above. Millions are left homeless by the flooding while the danger is still looming close to them. It has been declared right away that the magnitude of this damage is much higher than the events mentioned earlier. Time has again tested our will as a nation, and the demand is of a greater effort than the one seen in the past.
We as individuals represent Pakistan as a whole, and its on our shoulders to carry ourselves forward. I won’t say there is a decrease in our spirit of sacrifice, but of course the response has been a bit slower. From my side it has all to do with our respectable leadership, whom no one trusts in the first place. But their attitude cannot deter us, we have to join hands collectively if time requires that from us. Make an effort, find organization like Edhi and others working for this cause, nominate volunteers from within the community and extend your help through them if necessary. But at any cost the people in need cannot be ignored. They are waiting for Pakistan for their relief, and each one of us makes Pakistan.
So go ahead and give your maximum to this cause, because nations are tested in these times, and we have to prove yet again that we are united against any issue faced by our mother land.
May Allah shower his blessing on this holy land and take us out of all these fortunes…….Ameen.
Image: An aerial view from a Pakistan army rescue helicopter shows personnel distributing water to flood-affected residents in Ghouspur, some 100 kilometers from Sukkur on on August 9, 2010. Around 13.8 million people have been affected by massive floods in Pakistan, making the scale of the disaster worse than the devastating 2004 tsunami, a UN official said.
Soles4Souls® Inc., a Nashville USA based charity, is committing 100,000 pairs of new shoes to Pakistan Flood victims.
Soles4Souls Inc. is committing 100,000 pairs of shoes to the victims of the floods and monsoon rains that are devastating the country of Pakistan. In conjunction with its partners in the footwear industry and trusted distribution agencies, Soles4Souls is responding to the overwhelming need for appropriate footwear in the midst of rising waters and crushing mudslides.
“We have been moved to action by our international partners who are watching the devastation in Pakistan unfold firsthand and have reached out for assistance,” said Wayne Elsey, Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls. “With more than 100,000 people and children being exposed to diseases from the flood waters and debris, we are sending shoes for their security and protection,” he said.
According to Elsey, a pair of decent shoes is absolutely necessary in order to participate effectively in rescue and rebuilding efforts among broken glass, twisted metal, and raw sewage.
Today, news agencies report that Sindh province is currently bracing for a second round of heavy floods, and authorities warn “it could be as big as the first wave, which displaced millions and destroyed thousands of homes.” According to Al Jazeera English, “Authorities said waters have unexpectedly begun to rise at the Kotri barrage along the Indus river in southern Sindh, and now threaten to overrun the embankments around the barrage. Flooding at Kotri could potentially threaten the city of Hyderabad.”
So far, more than 1,600 have been confirmed dead since the flooding began in Pakistan two weeks ago, though this toll will rise as the disaster continues to spread and the threat of water-borne diseases like cholera rises. Villages have been swept away. Hundreds of families have been displaced from their homes, their livelihoods destroyed. Over 14 million people have been affected by these floods, more than the 2004 Tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined.
Since the flooding began, I have laid awake at night, haunted by the images of the tragedy – families wading through what was once their homes, villages submerged under water, people frantically escaping to safe areas not already destroyed by the floods. This disaster is bigger than anything you or I have seen in recent years. But it is not productive to just lament about the loss and tragedy of this disaster. It is not enough to hang our heads or blame leaders for their lack of action. If we want to help the millions suffering, we have to actuallydo something to help.
As many of you know, I’m the director of Social Vision, the venture philanthropy arm of ML Resources. Social Vision provides seed funding and support for innovative initiatives and social entrepreneurs/enterprises in their earliest stages. Earlier this week, I received a call from my friend, Mahnaz Fancy, who was one of the founders of Pakistani Peace Builders, a new initiative of Pakistani-Americans and concerned global citizens, the group behind the recentSufi Music Festival in New York City. Mahnaz shared many of my same frustrations about responses to the disaster, and offered the most time-sensitive solution – a grassroots donation campaign to benefit the millions impacted by the floods in Pakistan, a campaign that would appeal to bothPakistanis and non-Pakistanis.
We got to work immediately, designing a campaign that would leverage social media and grassroots giving to fund raise in the most efficient way possible. Therefore, rather than five people giving funds to five different (albeit all well-deserving) organizations, this campaign would enable those same five people to donate to one relief organization, an agency we had thoroughly vetted and were in close contact with. Therefore, the campaign aims to centralize donations in order to maximize impact of those funds.
This of course was a lot easier said than done, given the tremendous work of numerous relief agencies on the ground, both international and Pakistani. However, after much deliberation and due diligence, ML Social Vision and PPB chose Mercy Corps, a global aid agency, as the direct recipient of these donations. We made this decision based on Mercy Corps’ stellar reputation and credibility in the West and on the ground, its transparency, its ability to respond quickly to emergencies, and its previous work in Pakistan. Not only has the organization already launched its fundraising appeal, it also coordinates directly with local communities and organizations in Pakistan. Mercy Corps also doesn’t attempt to do too much, and instead concentrates on doing things well – it’s currently focusing on providing clean water, staple foods and clean-up tools for affected families mainly in Swat Valley and Sindh, two of the worst hit areas.
On Thursday, our campaign – Relief4Pakistan – went live, and we set our first fundraising goal at $100,000, with ML Social Vision providing the first $10,000to jump start the campaign. Since then, we have managed to raise over$19,000, which is fantastic, but we still have a way to go before hitting our goal. So please, donate by clicking here. Every dollar (or foreign currency!) counts. The money will go directly towards Mercy Corps and will be earmarked for their flood efforts. You can also join our Facebook page, where you will receive updates on our progress, news on the disaster, as well as updates we will post from Mercy Corps’ efforts on the ground. Given that tomorrow is Pakistan Day, there is nothing more patriotic you can do than donate or support the numerous families affected by the floods. If you decide to hold your own fundraiser, and are not sure where to donate the funds you receive, please feel free to contact us or donate it directly.
At a time of such tremendous tragedy, the best way to make a difference is to help. Thanks and Happy Pakistan Day!
There is a general sense of euphoria in Bharat (aka India) about the Pakistanis floods. In news forums and in public posturing, in private meetings Delhi seems to get joy from the suffering of the Pakistanis.
During the earthquake of 2005, Bharat did deposit some money for the relief of the victims but President Musharraf refused to use it, and it was left un-utilized.
Now Bharat has reluctantly offered $5 million to the UN effort which plans to garnish about $450 million for the flood relief effort. The ongoing debate in Pakistan is whether to accept aid from a determined and sworn enemy of Pakistan–which does not miss any opportunity to malign Pakistan.