The crisis gripping the people is loud and clear – with flash floods and torrential rainfall this time. It has become unstoppable for weeks. In some places the crisis is happening alternatively to the main political clash in the country, and in others it is centre-stage. Away from political drama in Islamabad, people are drowning in water while losing their houses to floods. Climate change is, thus, real. It is a wake-up call for our political, military and business elites to come out of their shortsighted political intrigues to help people.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the death toll has risen to 937 but there are fair chances that the number will increase with time, since the rainfall has not really stopped. In addition to this, 30 million people have lost their houses and been forced to live in relief camps, and some under the open sky. People are extremely distressed across the country, especially in Sindh and Balochistan. The damage of the monsoon rainfall over Sindh is alarmingly high, as 23 of its districts are put on a high-alert list, and people are advised to leave their houses and material possessions to a safer place or nearby relief camp.
As reports are coming forth, it has been noticed that the death toll is higher in Balochistan with 234 people died so far, followed by KP with 185, Punjab 165, Azad and Jammu Kashmir 37 and Lastly Gilgit-baltistan with 9 casualties. High alerts are also given to people of Swat and Gilgit-Baltistan. Reportedly, two entire villages have been swept away in GB alone. Such is the level of this crisis. But still the rainfall has not stopped in GB.
Given the colossal climatic crisis, it is true to say that climate change is a lot more threatening to Pakistan than even terrorism. It, therefore, deserves the necessary attention of the higher-ups of our state who have become involved in their petty politics while people are being swept away with water. What is even more alarming is that five brothers have swept away waiting for a helicopter for five hours or more in KP, trapped at the middle of flood, suggesting further that the relief operations are still not up to the mark. So far, we have not even been able to get out all the trapped people.
Despite all that, we play petty power politics day out and day in. A nation that has prioritised temporary politics over the people and their lives has little right to expect positive outcomes for itself. It is time the nation should ask their leaders about their rights.
Regardless of the emerging humanitarian crisis, the attention of the media is on Imran Khan, Shahbaz Gill and their antics. Our elites have been enjoying political drama all over this time. The petty power politics of the hybrid regime and its subsequent blow-back has not yet reduced despite the establishment’s engagement in controlling the damage done by Imran Khan. Driven by superiority complex, Imran Khan has brought the whole country to a very difficult situation, for he is not ready to compromise on his political tactics: citing alleged conspiracies being hatched against his political survival. Given such a heightened political drama where our institutions are maligned by Khan for political expediency, it is impossible to do relief work.
Even though social media has been littered with pictures of people who have died in floods, our state machinery has been silent, unmoved. Had the relief efforts been taken earlier, we would have saved people from dying in such huge numbers. At the time of writing this piece, the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif along with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari have been seen with people in Sindh.
It is to be noted that though our political elite realised the gravity of the situation only now, our military has been doing work in providing relief from a month. Notwithstanding the unfortunate involvement of the military in politics, it is the only state institution that has been seen working for people in case of floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Conclusively, given the deadly scenario across Pakistan, it is time to wake up for our state machinery, as people are in dire need of assistance. Any apathy on the part of the state would be a crime against the people of Pakistan.
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