AN OVERVIEW OF FLOOD DEVASTATION
Sep 13 - 26, 2010
It is impossible to describe the magnitude of the catastrophe, but the area covered by the floodwaters is equal to the size of Great Britain. The scale of the disaster is so vast that even large international aid agencies are struggling to reach many parts of the country. Pakistan is facing one of the biggest disasters in the world history as one third of country is covered by the flood. The number of people suffering from the massive floods in Pakistan could exceed the combined total in three recent mega disasters - the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Pakistani earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The death toll in each of those three disasters was much higher than the 2,000 people killed so far in the floods that hit Pakistan. However, the Pakistani government estimates that over 20 million people have been affected.
The power infrastructure also took a severe blow from the floods, which damaged 10,000 transmission lines, transformers, feeders and power houses in different flood hit areas by causing a power shortfall of 3,135 MW.
Aid agencies have warned of outbreaks of diseases, such as gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and skin diseases due to lack of clean drinking water and sanitation can pose a serious new risk to victims of flood. During the start of July 2010, monsoon rains affected the four provinces Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, lower Punjab as well as parts of Balochistan.
Germany has made commitment of Ä 25 million in direct help, other Ä 43 million via contributions through international organisations with which it is associated. Apart from above, there have been private donations to charities in the scale of Ä 24 million so far. The reason for lackluster response from people is corruption charges the country's incumbent government holds and image it has in the world. The worst floods in Pakistan's history hit the country at a time when the government is already struggling with a faltering economy and a brutal war against Taliban militants that has killed thousands of people. The US and other international partners have stepped in to support the government by announcing tens of millions of dollars and providing relief supplies and assistance but the thing is to release funds as soon as possible to help flood victims. The UN special envoy for the disaster, Jean-Maurice Ripert, said that Pakistan will need billions of dollars more from international donors to recover from the floods, a daunting prospect at a time when the financial crisis has shrunk aid budgets in many countries.
Number of extreme weather events have been happening around the world this summer; the worst drought in Russia in decades, which has triggered wildfires and doubled the daily death rate in Moscow to about 700; and torrential rains in China, which have caused massive flooding and triggered landslides that have killed more than 3,000 people.
Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority estimates that nearly one million houses have either been washed away or seriously damaged by the floods. Damage to crops and livestock will certainly worsen food inflation in coming months, and hit the textile and sugar industries, which in turn may hit trade balance and overall national growth. Government officials initially estimate the scale of loss up to $45 billion and it will take decades to put Pakistan on the road to economic development.
The level of responsibility our leaders carried when three provinces were flooded by water, more than two thousand people were died, and 20 millions were affected and homeless, was debunked as the country's president was launching political career of his son in UK at that . Many people here in Germany asked me in a surprise, "Why your president is enjoying in France? He must be inside the country to encourage people and aid workers to tackle this difficult time instead of meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron who blamed Pakistan for exporting terrorism." Believe me, I had nothing to answer except to feel shame and it was not only happened with me but also with thousands of other overseas Pakistanis who work more than 14 hours a day to remit their earnings in Pakistan which work as oil to run the country.
14th August 1947 was a day of great achievement for Muslims of subcontinent. They finally got separate homeland by paying huge price at the cost of lives of millions of Muslims and such examples are very rare when we look at course of history of the world. Partition left 10 million people uprooted and more than a million Muslims were died in riots and massacres. But now, after 63 years young generation is asking about creation of Pakistan; where do we stand today? Crisis upon crisis engulfs us, to the extent that people are questioning the very viability of the state. The core of the problem is the failure to achieve and define the identity of Pakistan.
Once Quaid-e-Azam said "I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principle of Islam. Today, they are as applicable in actual life as they were 1,300 years ago. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of man, justice and fair play to everybody. We are the inheritors of these glorious traditions and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of the future constitution of Pakistan. In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims - Hindus, Christians, and Parsis - but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan."
The key to ensuring Pakistan's future macroeconomic stability lies in strengthening other institutions that can complement and support broad economic development. There is no doubt that Pakistan has the abundance of natural resources, fertile land, four seasons, attractive ports, water, hardworking people, internationally famous rice and cotton products, marble, Thar coal and many more. The crying need of the hour is to reframe the economic policies to immediately increase exports by penetrating into new markets by expanding base of exports. Without developing agriculture sector in the country, Pakistan cannot have economic development in future and this will help government to control food crisis. Pakistan's long term prospects will depend on the evolution in political and social developments, economic policies to be pursued, the quality of governance and institutions, and most important investment in the human capital. It has become quite obvious from both Pakistan's own history and the experience of the developing countries that sustained economic growth and poverty reduction cannot take place merely on the strength of economic policies. Political stability, social cohesion, supporting institutions, and good governance are equally important ingredients coupled with both external environments for achieving economic success. Pakistani is facing inconsistency in GDP growth rates in past.
All the people living in and outside country have to think as one nation and collectively contribute for welfare of people of Pakistan. We must show our identity as Pakistani instead of Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun, Balochi and Muhajir etc. Can we stand up and fulfill our responsibility, which is the greatest need of the time; the responsibility of making Pakistan what Quaid and Muslims of India wanted it to be. We need to start from that beginning.
At this critical time, we all have to promise that we will leave no stone unturned to make Pakistan a modern progressive, peaceful and developed country and a sign of honor and dignity for the Muslims across the globe. Pakistan remained at the bottom among South Asian states as it lost 8.3 per cent of its GDP or Euro 8 billion during last year owing to bad governance. Corruption Perceptions Index 2009 by Transparency International ranks Pakistan at 139 positions out of 180 countries. India's ranking is much better than Pakistan, which is 84. If we look at Human Development Index report of 2009 issued by United Nations Development Programme, the situation is even worse. Pakistan ranks at 141 out of 182 countries. Pakistan was established under the slogan of Islam but practices carried out in Pakistan are totally against the golden principles of Islam. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, due to multiple factors the level of performance of various government and non-government organs is declining with the passage of time. Good governance is also pointed out as one of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an agenda for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. But, nothing is realised on ground realities except paper work. Instead of diverting Pakistan towards prosperity and good governance, the country's ruling elite class secures their own interests first, irrespective of national interests. Even they raise slogan of Pakistan first. When the civilian regime came into power after the February 2008 elections, good governance slogan was echoed once again. But, so far government has not delivered and still demands another three years to deliver fruits of democracy and good governance. The landlords of Pakistan are the major hurdle in the way of development of Pakistan.
Economists point out five basic reasons of deplorable economic conditions and bad governance in Pakistan: corruption, political instability, no rule of law, lack of accountability at government level principally and bureaucratic ploys.
I met various business leaders in Germany and I proposed them to invest in Pakistan because we are a market of 180 million people, country with full of natural resources, 45 million labour force and corporate taxes and other incentives are pretty good for foreign investors. They have long list of excuses like political instability, attitude of government officials regarding issuance of business licenses and demand of kickbacks and law and order situation etc. If we ignore the foreign investment and look only Pakistani institutions and corporations, the performance is getting worst due to political appointments, which result in incompetence of employees and non-transparent systems. The efficient allocation of resources to ensure widespread and equitable economic and social development of a nation is the basic responsibility of any government and this can only be achieved through good governance. Where governance practices are diverted from these sound principles, there is a lack of accountability and minimal transparency. This results in injustice and bad governance with unbridled corruption.
For me good governance is achieved only when people are actually involved, not just superficially, in the decision making process by the means of policy formulation and implementation. All activities are coordinated to achieve sustainable development of human resource and raising the standard of living of the common citizen. But, of course people's participation can be fruitful when people are educated and hence it is must for effective governance to have an aware and educated public who can bring the government to stand when the situation demands. Good governance is achieved when all sections of the society irrespective of the caste, creed, race, color, sex, religion and other differences get equal opportunities and access to the facilities available in the country especially education, food, health , clean drinking water, proper sanitation etc. It is necessary that the youth today demand good governance from the government. It is our right to have transparent, accountable governance in the country, and it is well within our rights to ask for transparency on the issue. The youth should get together and make people aware of their rights and duties by organising workshops to achieve the aim. The general complaint with respect to Pakistan's exports has been the absence of quality control. The private sector must ensure that this becomes a necessary condition for export. Towards this end, trade associations should be encouraged to establish and operate training centers and central quality control facilities, set standards, which are mandatory, and establish a system of penalising violators.
When one evaluates how guiding principles of good governance are actually applied in real governments, one naturally finds many gaps in implementation of the ideal. Contradictions exist between principles and political reality, in our judgment, mainly because ruling elites often seek to maintain their dominance by denying what many ordinary citizens want and need given their human nature. That is why it is necessary to examine both the ideals of good governance and the realities of actual governments.
Where there are gaps, efforts are justified to better align practice with aspiration. Drawing a lesson from past, one may conclude that for the state to ensure sustainable and equitable development, it must realise that while the government has a role to play in economic development this can only be achieved best through a realisation that such a positive role requires not an expansion in the scale of government activity, but an increase in its effectiveness and a major reallocation of its resources.
Today, Pakistan faces very serious challenges and biggest is inflation. The only way to cope with these challenges is the alliance and cooperation of public and private sector to help poor people of Pakistan and provide them some relief. In fact, Pakistan needs to redirect its priorities and state must focus efforts towards the core human development concerns. This would entail liberal investments in basic human needs of the poor and a major redistribution of such productive assets as land and credit. Moreover, the state needs to provide a major stimulus to economic growth, involving an equitable fiscal policy that emphasises progressive taxation and 'pro poor' expenditures. There is the need for revitalising existing state institutions. Political systems need no longer to have representation based on oligarchic interests. The civil service needs to be made more efficient and productive. Similarly, judiciary needs to be more independent as well as accessible to people at lower level. Ultimately, none of these reforms will take place without political will. A new vision of governance built on the principles of ownership, accountability and even decency, are only too increasingly becoming imperative for its citizens.
In sum, governance is a continuum. It does not automatically improve over time. Citizens need to demand good governance. Their ability to do so is only enhanced by awareness, education, and employment opportunities. The government of Pakistan needs to be responsive to those demands. For change to be effective, it must be embedded in the societies concerned and cannot be imposed from the outside. As it is well known, good administration is possible through fair and successful management which make their peoples happy and prosperous. Good governance however is possible through strengthening of the civil society and its participation in the administration. The most important condition for catching up with the future is to establish good governance in which non-governmental organisations are effective.
The subject of good governance is pertinent to all people in all times in history but it is more important at this juncture of history for Pakistani government and nation.
It is my firm belief that we as a whole nation must take responsibility of our own future. Nobody from outside can deal our own affairs and improve situation. We have to trust on our capabilities and deal with the challenges. It is we, who will decide what will be the future of our generations. Government must ensure public welfare as a part of the mandate given to it by peoples of Pakistan.