HYDERABAD: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) representatives have said the state’s response to the disaster caused by torrential rains and flooding was disappointing and the calamity’s scale increased due to sheer incompetence which further exacerbated the crisis.

They called for ensuring transparency in all international aid reaching Pakistan and organisations like National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and said the two needed to improve their performance.

HRCP chairperson Hina Jillani, secretary general Harris Khalique, co-chairperson Asad Butt, Qazi Khizer and others said at a joint press conference at local press

club on Tuesday that no government had the requisite capacity to deal with disaster of this scale that had affected 35 million people.

She argued that the commission’s expectations were not unrealistic about disaster mitigation by state but still the state’s response to it was disappointing. In spite of lack of resources things could have been handled at administrative level but lapses were evident, she said.

She said that the scale of disaster increased due to sheer incompetence which further aggravated the crisis. HRCP would not make a final comment but transparency was still needed in international aid reaching the country, she said.

She said that landless haris had lost everything and wondered what kind of plan the governments had to deal with their issues. The state always tried to suppress civil society and it should learn a lesson now as the civil society and volunteers were engaged in disaster mitigation everywhere, she said.

She said the state would have to eventually face frustration of people if it did not act. The response to present disaster started belatedly, otherwise usually countries had plans ready to respond to such calamities but it was not seen in Pakistan, she said.

She said that NDMA and PDMA need to improve performance and ensure transparency. HRCP had its reservations on overall response to the disaster by provincial and federal governments, she said.

She asked why governments had not invested in resources of organisations supposed to deal with disaster of such magnitude. Their capacity needed to be enhanced, she said.

She said that complaints about political interference in relief work were received in all provinces. The provincial governments needed to improve governance and

ensure self-accountability and people’s participation in decision making and implementation to ensure empowerment, she said.

Ms Jilani said that charity and civil society organisations and philanthropists should be more active and experts should be consulted before starting work on rehabilitation plans.

She said that HRCP would play its role as it intended to ensure that a framework was put in place which ensured climate resilient constructions and infrastructure.

She said that IDPs in Balochistan were less in number but the province’s existing infrastructure, which was already not up to the mark had been damaged.

HRCP co-chairperson Asad Butt said the state was not capable to deal with such crisis. He said that details of international assistance should be made public as people must know what resources were utilised and rulers should rebuild their trust among people which they had lost.

He warned rulers of anarchy if peoples’ needs were not met and added that people feared there would be no cultivation of wheat crop while the state did not have resources to pay for import of the grain.

He said that state should plan things accordingly. The organisations like HRCP could not work like political

parties. Defense societies had emerged on the land of natural waterways and now they wanted to reach Bundal island as well, he said.

HRCP secretary general Harris Khalique said that the disaster had rendered this incompetent state even more inept as aristocracy did not have any link with masses.

He said that conditions in Sindh and Balochistan were equally worse but in the latter’s cases the number of affected people was lesser than Sindh because of population growth.

He said that HRCP would start work on a study to determine how Pakistan’s capacity could be developed to deal with disasters within climate change framework keeping peoples’ rights at the centre.

He said that HRCP would organise a national conference in November where stakeholders would be invited to take short and long term decisions.

He said that issues of Left Bank Outfall Drain should be addressed in Sindh because drainage had become core issue right now. There was lack of coordination between PDMA and Sindh irrigation department, he said.

He said that 62 planes had landed in Pakistan with international relief assistance and regretted that the country was paying the price of for huge carbon emissions by developed countries hence they should now address Pakistan’s issues.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Is there a plan?
Updated 06 Dec, 2022

Is there a plan?

The ball currently is in Imran's court, but it appears he is stumped as to what to do with it.
Riverfront concerns
06 Dec, 2022

Riverfront concerns

THE door-to-door drive being launched by a group of landowners to mobilise affected communities against what they...
Morality police out
06 Dec, 2022

Morality police out

FOR several months, Iran has been rocked by unprecedented protests, sparked by the death on Sept 16 of Mahsa Amini, ...
Extension legacy
Updated 05 Dec, 2022

Extension legacy

The practice of having individuals carry on well beyond their time is up.
Dodging accountability
05 Dec, 2022

Dodging accountability

A WARNING carried in these pages in August appears to have gone completely unheeded. Months ago, as the government...
Double standards
05 Dec, 2022

Double standards

IN a globalised world, if states fail to protect the human rights of their citizens, or worse, participate in ...