Flood management

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif has ruled out the possibility of another martial law and said that his party was ready to defend democracy. Mr Sharif also said that just because a government has failed does not mean that democracy itself has failed. Mr Sharif asked what had a martial law ever given to this country except for poverty, a frail economy, violation of constitutional rule and human rights, apart from an endless wave of terrorism. Mian sahib has indeed taken a laudable stand by vowing to protect the democratic system. A military dictatorship is inherently a disaster waiting to happen. Those who are calling for a military intervention are opportunists who are part of every government, be it a civilian set up or military rule.

On the issue of floods, Mian Nawaz Sharif was overly critical of the government. He warned the federal government not to bypass the provinces. Prime Minister Gilani has set up a National Oversight Disaster Management Council (NODMC), which will ensure that the aid for the flood victims is distributed “transparently and equitably”. The NODMC is working with both the federal and the provincial governments. Thus, Mr Sharif’s word of caution is neither logical nor factual. It does not make sense for the centre to take on as humongous a task as distributing aid in all four provinces on its own. Without the provincial governments in the picture, it would be impossible to contemplate rescue and relief operations throughout the country. There may be some lacunae in the coordination efforts, but with due apologies to Mr Sharif, the government is not doing that on purpose. A flood as catastrophic as this one has taken everyone by surprise; the government is doing as much as it can. It seems as if Mian sahib is not too happy with his proposal for a commission being turned down. He said that a commission would have allayed the fears of the international and local community as far as corruption is concerned, but he needs to be reminded that the NODMC is reasonably credible. This is not the time for political point scoring. Mr Sharif should support the government in these trying times.

Mian sahib made a very valid point as far as the flood affectees are concerned. As the waters recede and the flood victims return to their homes, the problem they would face is that there will be no homes to return to. The most important task at hand is to erect shelter for these people. Mr Sharif said that as much as Rs 100,000 should be given to the victims to start reconstruction and if that is not possible, Mian Shahbaz Sharif said that Rs 20,000 should immediately be paid to them. The president has also asked for disbursing Rs 3.9 billion among one million poor families in the flood-devastated areas. All these are good ideas. The government should now plan on making quick low-cost housing in cities, towns and clusters of villages, while giving cash where the populace is scattered. The public and private sectors could be inducted in this effort, with help from the international community. Time is of the essence. The quicker they embark on this plan, the more the returning affected will be helped.

Mr Sharif’s call for an investigation into embankment breaches should be accepted. If the citizens of this country have had to lose their homes because a bunch of high-ups were busy protecting their lands, the guilty should not be spared. The flood affectees are awaiting our support.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


Sadia said…
The US assistance has now reached over to 200 million USD, this substantial increase is due to government’s efforts of speeding up the process of relief. If we further ensure transparency in the relief operations then the donors will be more willing to contribute more in this noble cause.

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