Politicking amid floods | The Express Tribune

The failure of all governments, whether central or provincial, to deal with the nationwide floods is made even more disappointing by the fact that despite what is rapidly becoming a national tragedy, the leaders of the major political parties are more interested in politics and shooting at each other instead of standing with people. Instead of calling for rallies and counter-rallies to determine who is more popular or who is or has been selected, leaders could marshal their time and resources for flood relief. Still, the best we’ve gotten so far are begging bowl tweets, calling for flood relief donations from the public.

The official flood toll has already topped 900, with several independent sources putting it even higher. Of those who lose their precious lives, more than 300 are children and nearly 200 women. In addition, over 80,000 homes were destroyed and a total of 30 million people affected. Government officials take to the media to say they are doing what they can and using all resources, but media reports show several areas where no food, shelter or other aid has arrived. Government officials say these are remote and hard-to-reach areas, but TV news crews manage to get there with relative ease.

The floods will also have a continuing impact on the economy in areas not affected by the rains, as damage to roads and other communication infrastructure will take several weeks and months to repair once the water recedes. The true impact on crop yields will also not be known until the crops come out of the water. International trade will also be affected due to the impact on border crossings – significant delays are already occurring at the Chaman and Taftan border crossings with Afghanistan and Iran, respectively.

And while suffering has been seen across the country, some of the most egregious examples of government malfeasance have also occurred in the two provinces that have had “stable” governments. Despite nearly 15 years of uninterrupted rule in Sindh, the PPP does not appear to have done much to improve its preparedness or response to the floods – more than 10 million people were left homeless in Sindh alone,

and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah even said the province was running out of relief goods. The same can be said of the ITP in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where almost a decade in charge has not led to any improvement in flood resilience. However, the provincial government is apparently ready to commit the necessary resources for party leader Imran Khan’s rallies.

The health and safety of millions of Pakistanis should take precedence over partisan politics. But neither party seems interested in even a unilateral ceasefire. It seems that no leader recognizes that good leaders are also good at serving the public. Where people hoped historical devastation would bring historical unity in response, pettiness is the only thing that has been exposed.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26e2022.

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