August 1, 2010

Pakistan Drowns

Who will help? (Source:
The insensitivity of the Pakistani politicians and the Pakistani generals regarding the plight of the Pakistani people never fails to amaze me. And this is despite the fact that I have been continuously being amazed by them for as long as I can remember. In a post on JBandMir, Asfandyar has written beautifully about the lack of empathy on the part of General Nadeem Ahmad, who has stated that his job, and the NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority’s) job is not the management of disasters, rather it is to coordinate the efforts of different government agencies and ministries. In the words of Asfandyar, thank you sir for being brave enough to admit that you are inherently incapable of doing the job that you are supposed to do. While thousands die, and thousands more expected to be displaced, our government and its “disaster management” agencies are still not engaged in the relief operations that the scale of this destruction demands and requires.

But coming back to the politicians and their unbelievable antics, President Zardari has decided to go ahead with his London trip where he will officially anoint his son as a politician. And the cost of this private affair is stated to be in the crores; and that money is going to be spent in only 5 days from the official coffers. May God have mercy on us. Forget the political sordidness associated with his trip, the mere fact that there are millions stranded in extremely trying circumstances demands that any Head of State with only a little bit of shame and morality, stay back at home to express solidarity with those in need. But as always, that is too much to wish for. While the PPP workers will celebrate madly, and jubilate with open arms, more people will inevitably die back at home when the floods cross Sindh; although I hope with all my heart that I be proved wrong in my assessment.

Even at this sick juncture, our politicians cannot stop point scoring with their rivals. They have even politicized this whole sad crisis. The statement by Shahbaz Sharif calling on Zardari to have some fear of God and stay back to divert the funds earmarked for his trip to the relief efforts did not only fall on deaf ears; it fell on Babar Awan’s ears. The leading hooligan from PPP seems to have lost all his shame and dignity in his quest to be in Zardari’s good books. He has retaliated by saying that Zardari is entitled to go wherever he wants, whenever he wants. And that the Sharifs themselves go to places all over the world, and no one has ever stopped them. The point is that they are here now, and at least showing that they are making concerted efforts to minimize the damage. Such is the sad and sorry state of affairs in our country. It makes me boil with rage and anger, and I am sure there hundreds of thousands like me who are seething right now, but the point is what can we do about these politicians and generals?  

The army has put certain battalions and units on high alert, but the orders have come a little late to be of much use. 1100 people have died already and the toll is continuously rising. The army should’ve been part of the preventative exercise rather than the damage control one. The politicians should grow some shame because that is the need of the hour. And we, you and me, need to step up our generous nature and donate all that is possible for us to the Edhi Foundation, and other NGOs which are busy in providing aid and shelter to those who need it.