Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Managing Pakistan in the aftermath of the floods

Floods have devastated Pakistan directly and indirectly.Nealy one-fifth of people and area have been affected.Human, cattle,crops,homes,schools and infrastructure and what not have been destroyed.Damage and loss assessment is yet to be completed,however,there are varying estimates ranging from 11 to 45 billion US dollars.As it is Pakistan was reeling from the affects of two or more successively bad years due to international recession,oil price hike and political transition.Floods have worsened the situation further.The initial psychological and physical shock was so much that some people even doubted that Pakistan would be able to survive at all.These doubts are not new and the flood shocks have even exacerbated those.

Floods visit every community where there is a river.For centuries of human experience and history,floods have been considered a blessing which brought a new round of fertility.There used to be no fertilizers ,floods brought fertile soil along and spread it on the shore.The problem is due to the burgeoning population.In the last sixty years alone,Pakistan's population has increased manifold,mounting pressure on both rural and urban land and areas.

The intensity of floods was colossal.According to initial estimates,45 MAF(million acre feet) of water gushed out in a few days,as opposed to normal average flow of 100 MAF in one full year.This was certainly the most severe flood in the history of the land of this country.

Admittedly,floods devastation could have been much lesser,had we been a little more organised and a little less corrupt and inefficient.What a forlorn hope.Most technology to forecast floods and deal with it exists in the country but utilized with wanting efficiency.Investments in Dykes and Levees have been made over the years,but got weakened and dilapidated due to poor maintenance as a result of corruption of the irrigation department.On e of the most corrupt in a country which has the "honour" of being listed as one of the most corrupt countries of the world.Sindh has suffered much more due to this corrupt officialdom.In Sindh,doctors and teachers donot go to their workplaces and draw salaries.It is ghost schools and health facilities all over. Nationalists in Sindh would have pushed all the fault to Pakistan and its federal (punjab) government ,had Sindh not been ruling in the center and elsewhere.A separatist movement would have been launched.Thanks to the present democratic set-up.This is another reason,that many patriotic and sincere Pakistanis argue and wish that the current political dispensation should be allowed to continue and complete its full term,which it has legitimately earned,despited the purported faults and issues.Sky is not falling,it would have fallen in their absence of those who pronounced "Pakistan Khape" in a situation when they had all the power and potential to play foul.

It is not easy to run this country in these circumstances.Perhaps those who are destablising the system in the hope of coming to power through back doors donot quote appreciate it.So is the power of power.It is a mix motley crowd consisting of naive and innocent middle class professionals clamoring for reform and revolution and a less mature media led by inadequately informed anchors,some of whom clearly running their personal vendetta.In the background there always are undemocratic forces,both within and outside the establishment.The establishment established long ago by the so called," gang of four', led and left by the Governor Ghulam Mohammad.Younger people would'nt know and appreciate what I mean.

Government of the day has great responsibility to discharge despite onerous and mounting problems.For its part,it should maintain its politics of consensus despite problems and difficulties. Opposition has a difficult role and task to perform to which it has not been quite used to and for which there has not been a tradition.To maintain and support the present set up without letting them winning the next election.It is indeed a tight rope, and the chances and incentives and detractor too many to cause imbalance and a fall.Mr.Nawaz Sharif has an opportunity to live for history and not for power.He has done well uptill now and should continue doing so.He would earn more honour and respect without power than with it.He has already done so.

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