“It would have been better if we had died in the floods as our current miserable life is much more painful," said Ahmed who fled with his family from the town of Shikarpur and spent the night shivering in the rain that has continued to lash the country.”
"It looks like the number of people affected in this crisis is higher than the Haiti earthquake, the tsunami or the Pakistan earthquake, and if the toll is as high as the one given by the government, it's higher than the three of them combined," Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told The Associated Press.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been looking at images from the flood-affected areas; pictures of men and women carrying their children on their shoulders as they make their way in waist-deep water, carrying what little is left of their family and home with uncertainty. Then there are images of rescue helicopters dropping food items as a people vie to grab the food items for their families, fear, anger and uncertainty apparent on the faces of many. Over the years only faces have changed, from the internally displaced placed people of Swat to the flood survivors from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the only constant is devastation.
Undoubtedly, this appears to be the biggest disaster in the country’s history. Much has been said about the devastating condition of the flood victims. From being sympathetic towards the plea of the victims to anger at the apathy of the president, we have analysed the situation far too many times. Last night, a report on BBC suggested that over 14 million people could have been affected by the floods, however in the very next sentence, the report claims that charities connected to a group with alleged al-Qaeda links has been providing flood relief. This is not the only report of it’s kind, most of the coverage by the western media emphasised on the Taliban angle while covering the floods. I understand that the grievances of the unattended victims are at risk of being exploited, but should that be our sole reason for helping them?
Rather than criticising what is happening and why that is so, we should focus on pressurizing the government to ensure better disaster management policies. After all, it is the lack of an apt civil-disaster management that leaves no option other than to rely on independent relief organisations. The state has had plenty of opportunities in the past, to learn from its mistakes and to develop a better disaster management policy. But it appears that disaster management is clearly not the top priority of the state. The apathy has already created a void between the authorities and the people, with most of us, opting to trust independent relief organizations rather than the President’s relief fund.. If some of these relief organizations have links to terror groups, it is due to the failure on part of the government to fulfill their responsibilities.
The people of Swat and the adjoining areas have already suffered enough at the hands of the Taliban, this war has cost them their life and properties. And if that wasn’t enough, they have been hit by the worst floods in 80 years. The world should help them on basis of humanity not insecurity and fear.Asian Correspondent and her personal blog Mystified Justice. She recently won the Best Activist Blogger award by CIO & Google at the Pakistan Blogger Awards. She can be found on Facebook and tweets at twitter.com/sanasaleem.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.