ISLAMABAD: The federal and the Sindh governments on Friday came under fire in the National Assembly for “ignoring” the flood victims in Sindh and Balochistan as lawmakers belonging to both sides of the aisle urged the authorities to take immediate steps for the rehabilitation of the calamity-hit people before winter sets in.

Feeling the heat, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif vowed to convey the grievances expressed by the members to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and the federal cabinet, whereas Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman said she personally “apologised” if there was any discrimination on the political basis during the distribution of relief goods and agriculture inputs.

The defence minister refuted the impression that the federal or the Sindh governments were distributing flood relief goods on the basis of party affiliation.

Agreeing that the flood victims should be compensated timely and without any prejudice, Mr Asif said there was no doubt it was the responsibility of both the federal and the provincial governments to provide shelter to the flood victims before winter sets in as these calamity-hit people could not be allowed to spend their nights in the open.

Minister apologises ‘if there was any discrimination in relief goods distribution on political basis’

Despite having limited resources, he said, the government was making every effort to provide relief to the flood-affected people.

He, however, agreed there was a flaw in the country’s political culture, where ruling party members were given preference over the opposition members in the distribution of funds and facilities, alleging they had themselves faced similar discrimination under the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

A number of members had raised the issue during the question hour, whereas Hashim Notezai of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) and Ghous Bux Mahar of the opposition Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) forcefully raised the matter on the points of order.

Mr Notezai termed the compensation that flood victims in Balochistan had received from the provincial government and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) ‘insufficient’. He demanded that farmers be given concessions in electricity bills and provided solar panels to meet their energy needs. He said the flood-affected people should be provided cash so that they could build their houses as early as possible.

Mr Mahar also criticised the federal as well as the Sindh government for leaving the flood victims to ‘die under open sky’.

He said, “There was no doubt that we drowned due to a natural disaster. But now the government is killing [the people] in the cold weather,” said the GDA leader, accusing the Sindh government of not providing any relief goods to the people in his Shikarpur constituency due to the political rivalry.

Claiming that the people were living a miserable life and even spending nights under trees, he urged the government to release funds to the flood victims so that they could build their houses.

The GDA lawmaker alleged it seemed that the government wanted to see the country facing a famine-like situation so that it could get another opportunity for begging before the world to fill its coffers.

Addressing the defence minister, Mr Mahar asked the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to take up the matter with the provincial government of Sindh as the province was being ruled by its ally Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

“Kh Asif [defence minister] should visit [Sindh] and inquire as to what the provincial government has so far done. They [PPP] are your allies and ask them to fear Allah and why are they killing the people,” said Mr Mahar, asking: “If provinces are facing damages, then why is the federal government sitting silently?”

Mr Mahar said it seemed the country was no more a federation and they were heading towards a Swiss model confederation. He regretted that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during his visits to the flood-hit areas of Sindh totally ignored the areas, which fell in the constituencies of the opposition members.

Taking the floor, Climate Change Minister and PPP leader Sherry Rehman refuted the impression that the Sindh government was carrying out relief activities in the province on political basis, stating: “If it has happened, I personally apologise over it”.

She assured the MNA from Shikarpur of looking into his grievances and ensure distribution of relief goods and seeds without any discrimination.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Losing grip
Updated 29 Jan, 2023

Losing grip

The state and the government are responsible for providing Imran with the security he deserves as a former prime minister.
Telling silence
29 Jan, 2023

Telling silence

THE silence of the Sindh government over the recent exposé in this paper about Karachi’s water tanker mafia ...
Palestine escalation
29 Jan, 2023

Palestine escalation

THE fire of conflict once again threatens to envelop the land of Palestine, as the growing cycle of violence refuses...
IMF package
Updated 28 Jan, 2023

IMF package

While it is crucial to seek immediate IMF funding to shore up its reserves, the govt shouldn’t focus only on short-term relief.
Dar unpegged
28 Jan, 2023

Dar unpegged

IT is over. Nearly four months after Ishaq Dar descended on the cash-strapped economy with some decidedly outlandish...
Lurking hazards
28 Jan, 2023

Lurking hazards

OVERSIGHT of illegal industrial activity occurring within residential areas in the country is weak, especially in...