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Unity needed


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Pakistan faces a terrible time at the moment with the worst ever floods in its history. Around twenty million people are out there, in the flood-affected regions, most of them without a roof in the pelting monsoon rains which have lashed the country for the last two weeks. The resulting flood has devastated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, large swathes of land, villages and crops in Punjab and is now presently wreaking havoc in Sindh.

As I write this, an image of a woman carrying a four-month old baby I saw on the news today, is burnt in my mind. The woman, in waist-high water was holding a drip that was attached to the baby for the acute diarrhea he/she suffered from. She needed a hospital for her child, but the hospitals were already beyond capacity. Where was she taking her child and was she able to get medical help in time?

About 30,000 men of our armed forces are helping in the relief work in the affected areas while relief funds have been set up by the government as well as private organisations and NGOs. A few friends of mine from the Motor Club & Offroad Pakistan have also started collecting donations and I am helping them in whatever capacity possible.

However I am worried. I feel this way because I know collecting funds is only the first step - it is their distribution that is the key; it requires infrastructure and coordination, something private organisations and citizens lack. The same was the case when the earthquake happened in 2005 and 2008. I distinctly remember how Karachiites rolled up their sleeves and got to work, massive amounts of goods were collected but how much of those supplies made it to the poor souls who needed them?

Aid distribution and relief work is not a cup of tea by any means. Most people who think it’s about getting transport, loading it with goods and heading out there are wrong. Most of those trucks never make it to the points most needed, such is the desperation in these times that trucks carrying aid are either looted by those hoarding these goods and are out to make a quick buck or by people who are so overcome with the tragedy that they lose control and discipline. It is all about the on-ground help and adequate security measures, entry and exit strategies and the most effective use of manpower.

The distrust in government is most apparent in these times as civilians collecting aid as well as NGO's and religious organizations get overwhelming support and donations but the people (i.e., the government officials) with the most access to the infrastructure needed to distribute are left scratching their heads.

Why aren’t the various groups collecting aid merging their efforts into a single channel which can then be handed over to an organization like the NDMA to effectively distribute funds and donations? Let’s face it, the amount of money needed to rebuild these people's lives will run into billions. Surely the role of civil society members and that of NGOs in this effort would be enhanced if they worked hand-in-hand with the government?

Please note that I am not advocating that those with the means to donate shouldn’t distribute relief themselves – far from it. I do think, however, that the entire effort would be a lot more efficient if all the different people united and pooled their resources and man power to achieve the goal of saving Pakistani lives.

All of us want to help in whatever way is possible, but we need to do it together. Perhaps the NDMA can appoint consultants like Abul Sattar Edhi, Ansar Burney, Mushtaq Chapra and the likes to restore the public's trust. Sadly though such idealistic thoughts are reserved for nations which spend more time at work then in naval gazing and crucifying one another on TV daily. One can still hope though, and pray that somehow we do enough collectively to hold off what looks like a catastrophe.

Will keep on posting about actual on the ground details as I head out to the affected areas with the MCP convoy in the coming days.

Faisal Kapadia is a Karachi-based entreprene

ur and writer. He blogs at Deadpan Thoughts.

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.

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The writer is the Editor Lingua Urdu at Global Voices. He is also the Director Digital Strategy and Social Media at Mind Map Communications. He tweets @faisalkapadia.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (25) Closed

suraiya kasim Aug 13, 2010 06:31pm
Thank you for a good article. I is overwhelming to see so many Indians wanting to help. Shows that people don't dislike each other, it is the politicians creating the hate. My heartfelt thank you to the Indians for their concern and help.
Sami Aug 13, 2010 04:08pm
This SAARC is useless, You have to do with your own hand. Here in Bangladesh we suffer flooding every year. Instead of waiting for help (from govt and outside world) we organize our self in small group and get on with it, The only way simple Pakistani can help is to do just that. You have a corrupt Govt who do not care about you. Self help is the bast and we know it. I will send some money for the needy though Red cross and feel bad for so many during the month of Ramadan. May Allah help you all.
F.k Aug 12, 2010 09:38pm
You can donate to our cause here via paypal or creditcard by the chip in widget. Pray for the people of pakistan!, we will not let them die like this!
vijay india Aug 11, 2010 12:36pm
@Sultam has given the addresses which I missed. There is no news from the Indian prime minister till now. US, australia UN, swiss and a few more countries are already there reaching out to people in distress. PS- Mr MMS birth place is in Pak.
vijay india Aug 11, 2010 12:30pm
@Neeraj Thanks for the info. I request the people of Pakistan who are reading this blog to share with me the addresses/ emails of reputed Pakistan NGOs.
sultam Aug 11, 2010 12:20pm
1. Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) Foreign Currency Account No. 0083-02800002, Swift Code CITIUS33 , Bank Al-Falah Ltd, Jinnah Road Rawalpindi PRCS Address: PRCS NHQ Sector H8, Islamabad Tel: 0314 5289706 2. Abdul Sattar Edhi Foundation Foreign Currency Account No. 059712020002843, Swift Code MUCBPKKA, Branch Code 0597, Muslim Commercial Bank, Aabpara, Islamabad Edhi Foundation zonal office: Near Masjide-e-Shohada, Aabpara, Islamabad. Ph: +92 (51) 2827844
Amer Aug 11, 2010 11:02am
Faisal I urge you and Dawn News to put up the names, accounts and locations etc of organizations that people all around the world can donate to. There is a lack of communication at the moment especially with the internation community. We need to spread more awareness about the situation.
Neeraj, India Aug 11, 2010 10:22am
Vijay, you do not need Govt. of India's permission to collect funds from indian public for the pakistani flood victims. Just collect and send the money to any of the reputed NGO working in Pakistan. I offer may condolences to the people who lost near and dear ones in the devastating floods. May god help those who are in dire need.
Sohail Rafi Aug 11, 2010 10:21am
Good article and very realistic too... HOWEVER, why not use this devastation to start a revolution which also drowns the current politicians and their system... Am I being too crazy,,, Think about it. It may be the best chance that this nation will ever have... Where is the NEW leadership?????
vijay india Aug 11, 2010 09:17am
Dear Ahmed Thought provoking question from you. Does SAARC has the Automatic disaster response in their agenda? I doubt. This has to be introduced in the next SAARC meeting. Whether it is there or not, Indian govt should help pakistan and also pakistan should accept help. 'An Indian', in his post has rightly said that what ever help the subcontinent gets never reaches the needy.
ahmed41 Aug 11, 2010 08:28am
Should not SAARC have an automatic disaster-response. If not, why not ? What else is regional co-operation about ?
ahmed41 Aug 11, 2010 08:26am
How to help ?? Maybe DAWN should inform us !!!!
ahmed41 Aug 11, 2010 08:23am
Can one not transfer money by WsternUnion ? Should work !! We all feel the desire to HELP. Wht is the mechanism ?
ahmed41 Aug 11, 2010 08:24am
A lovely thought, SIR !!
ahmed41 Aug 11, 2010 08:21am
Sir, When disaster hits no one is a hindu or merely an Indian; even animals help at such times. Your sentiments are great.
mansoor Aug 11, 2010 06:32am
Although flood has equally affected rural and urban areas, problems of cities have gained more attention in the media. As a result, they have received more support and aid from the government and donor agencies. I fear that rural inhabitants, who own low political voice, will be left to recover naturally.
dpd (South African Hindu Indian) Aug 11, 2010 06:30am
The time has come for one and all to unite. The polititians should get their houses in order to unite and assist where ever possible. Their has been a lull in the killings. Let all PAKISTANIS take advantage of this lull and forge a united PAKISTAN forward. May ALLAH shower all its MERCY and GOODWILL on the people of PAKISTAN in their hour of need.
Avinash Aug 11, 2010 05:42am
I would like to help the people in every way i can. i am from india. i would like to raise funds from my locality. to whom can i send the money by western union money transfer or moneygram? with all love.
Lt. Gen. rtd Singh Aug 11, 2010 02:51am
We Indians are willing to give unconditional help to our Pakistani brothers.
Mustafa Aug 11, 2010 01:54am
Excellent article. Pakistan and Pakistanis are facing two disasters, one natural that is flood and one man made that is terror. Nothing much can be done against the flood except to help victims but Pakistan must continue to fight terror and never compromise with those cause of whom more than 3,570 human being lost their life's in Pakistan in 3 years. Pakistan must accept help from all foreign countries to help flood victims.
AnIndian Aug 10, 2010 11:31pm
I also share with others the feeling of grief. I am sitting comfortably with my computer gathering my thoughts. The people who are marooned have lost everything. The whole life saving is gone in one day. Who knows what will be for them tomorrow. I too saw the woman with the child in arms almost about to loose the child, and many other pictures including the streets looking like rivers running through with all the possible force. I will certainly contribute something. But the problem is with the politicians. How many of the millions of dollars, and pounds, and rupees collected will end up in the politicians' pockets. This is the time for these heartless people to steal whatever is possible. I am certain millions of people all over the world would contribute to this cause of the people who have lost everything. Will 20% of contribution reach those to whom it is intended? It is left to Gods to save these hungry and thirsty millions of orphaned people. Short term need is to survive, and long term need is to rebuild the life, and families. How many families are separated in this time of distress? I hope the future for those suffering millions will be bright.
Iqra Baig Aug 10, 2010 09:33pm
yes i agreed that what you wrote in this blog, now not only flood effect the people by economically, as well as heath sector which was also effected by it. After that flood more people become the victim of that. In the region of Rajanpur and eastern wing of Koh-e- Sultan after that flash flood remain the insects as well as reptiles. How can international community give aid to the effected areas? because as a nation we do not show the unity after that like as we showed in 2005's earthquake, we do not strengthen our selves as a nation now.
vijay, India Aug 10, 2010 12:19pm
My sincere heartfelt condolences to the kin of the people who lost their lives in the killer floods. I request all the countries to help the people of pakistan to come out of this terrible times. I request the Indian govt to help pakistan and also allow people here in India to raise funds from the Indian public to help our pak brother and sisters
Umme Muhammed Aug 10, 2010 11:26am
"In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful" Asalamo Alykum, Good idea. How about contacting the NDMA at and getting through your idea? Wsalam, Umme Muhammed.
Amna Zaman Aug 11, 2010 07:04am
Loving the article. Completely speaks from the heart. If we all were united no disaster could ever effect us besides natural disasters. At least the terrorist would be defeated much easily if we all were as one.