There is a poll question on one of Pakistan’s renowned newspaper’s website asking whether government’s response towards the floods situation has been adequate or not. About 82 per cent responded with a NO. Who are these 82 per cent people? Probably the ones who have access to power as well the internet to take part in the survey. If the response from this section of the society is such a big no then what would it be if we add up the responses of those who have been directly affected, both physically and financially, by the worst floods in the history of Pakistan? These people lost everything in the catastrophe, their homes, their belongings and their relatives. They are hungry, bare-footed and thoroughly helpless.
The United Nations and the Pakistani government say that about 20 million people have been hit by the flooding, with some 6 million possibly made homeless and at least 1,600 reported dead. The floodwaters have destroyed numerous roads and bridges and now several diseases are creeping in on already shattered and marooned people.
Many countries of the world are giving millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan while others are pledging. The money has started pouring in from all across the world. But, will this money reach the needy? Well, that seems a big question but can be answered by every Pakistani without any doubt. No it won’t … simply.
Pakistani leaders seem least bothered about the whole situation and trying to cash the situation, crying for more and more aid from the world, which would ultimately end up in their foreign bank accounts.
Recently, the chief minister of Punjab province, which is the biggest and most populated province of Pakistan with about 56 per cent of the country’s total population, visited a flood-affected village in a convoy of about 30 vehicles, mostly imported and highly expensive ones. The video was shot by a bystander and can be watched on YouTube, in which heavily police-guarded fleet rushes on a road overflowing with flood waters.
If this is the protocol for a chief minister, one can easily picture the scene with the Prime or the President making a visit to just overview the situation.
Such a pity that even in the time of need and crisis, when millions of people are displaced and stranded under bare skies and don’t have anything to eat and drink, and are desperately looking for help, Pakistan government is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the protocols of the so-called leaders.
Here in the Waterloo Region of Ontario, Canada, where many Pakistani families reside, especially from the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province, which is the most affected by floods, people are collecting donations for their affected friends, families and relatives back home. They are not planning to send money through any organization or a bank but are sending someone in person with the collected money to distribute that personally to the survivors. They say they don’t trust anyone.
Keeping in mind the tarnished image of the government – and a more general perception of corruption in Pakistan- I think they are doing the right thing.
At least they know their money will reach the deserving.