Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pakistan's Biblical Floods :Where Is The World?

Today 600 children are dying a day, millions of women are displaced, without shelter, food and clean drinking water because of the floods calamity which does not seem to recede. A country who fought US war against the Soviets, and now whose own land is littered with the bodies of its martyrs for fight against terrorism, is sadly left alone standing in mighty flood waters of 'Biblical' proportions. Why has the world response been so poor, lukewarm and late? Why is the Muslim World's response equally invisible, and in-consequent? These are the two questions which millions of Pakistanis are asking again and again. Where are the shows of unity and show of friendship with the women and children of Pakistan? Where is the thrust to win their hearts and minds. The US is apparently the only country that is at least showing some semblance of help and a few others like Norway, India, and France. But where is China? So many European countries and Muslim countries are inconspicuous by their absence.
They say that more than 12% of the population of Pakistan is displaced and shelter-less right now.  They say that the diseases like gastro-enteritis, skin diseases, dehydration, viral and bacterial infections of the gut and chest are spreading fast.
With the crops of wheat, rice, cotton, and millets grains gone in the floods on the plains of Sindh and Punjab, there will be acute food shortages. There will be massive food cost inflation. With the employed like farmers, tillers displaced from their lands, the unemployment and poverty will rise acutely. Pakistan needs urgent relief with kind and much more with money to rebuild and rehabilitate. There has to be a disaster relief fund for the agricultural workers whose lands and crops have been destroyed. This should be given in addition to their dwelling and infrastructure & tractor loss relief fund.
The World Bank has to create a special disaster relief fund for the Pakistani agricultural/ small farmers which should be disbursed directly by the WB. No intermediary should be involved except for providing logistical support. This is crucial. According to a credible NGO the floods in Sindh have destroyed many villages and towns as the bunds or dams were intentionally broken by influential landlords to save their own lands. One such glaring example is the Mounder Town incident on 13th night when breaches created by private' bund' owners to save their land made the water inundate the whole town within hours and the army had to evacuate some 10,000 people in urgency. There have been many such examples all over Sindh. Sindh needs urgent relief like food, clean drinking water, medicines as the devastation is very large.
The relief aid when in cash form will also have to be disbursed through very strict transparency by foreign audit teams as the local made disbursement will never be transparent and effective.The Sindh government is overwhelmed by the scale and enormity of the disaster. They neither have the logistics, the capacity or the personnel to handle such a calamity. Their seriousness of purpose or even the understanding to apprehend the scale of the disaster is obvious from the fact that all they think especially the minister for irrigation that their primitive handling of opening and closing of waterways and bunds will be the most effective management system. When the residents of Sukkur are living in sheer fear of the disaster hitting their town , the minster for irrigation was scolding the journalists for spreading panic.  This kind of mentality is also reflective in their recent handling of the under development of a credible team for the development of Thar Coal for which they have made a secretary of government the sole player. This is reflective of their sheer lack of understanding of the modern concepts of business and economic development.They think that by adhoc measures in a lordly, feudal fashion will solve the very overwhelming and major governance problems.
Jacobabad town has been urgently evacuated with millions leaving all behind because a breach is made in the "THORI" bund. This is done to lessen the pressure on Sukkur barrage.  The water is now heading towards an air force base which is very important for logistical support and even more so now for relief aid logistics. Where and what was the original flood response plan? The Sindh Peoples Party Government was more concerned with the fact that Karachi infrastructure was built and Karachi is for ethnic Sindhis also and it was least concerned about refurbishing and repairing the Sukkur barrage, repairing the canals and waterways, making a modern , cohesive flood disaster plan for all of Sindh. Few months back also when cyclone Phet hit coastal towns of Sindh they provided neither relief nor any financial help to the affectees, There is no Coastal Disaster response plan for Sindh where Karachi alone is the largest city of Pakistan in its purview. Who will develop the Karachi Disaster Management Plan and implement it? As all disaster management programs involve community participation especially coastal areas have to follow a cyclone  management/evacuation plan.These are some of the questions which the Sindh government has to take seriously and also the federal government has to understand and impose.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Floods In Pakistan-Province by Province.UPDATE.

As the raging waters of Pakistan's flooded rivers hit  the Sukkur Barrage ,Sindh more than 100 years old, the real picture of massive devastation of the villages and towns emerges. Sindh television, KTN news network are showing pictures of people almost drowning in the flood waters, trying to wade across to safety. The canal, Begari are under pressure. Bigger towns like Kashmore, Ghauspur have been flooded. People have just run for their lives leaving every thing behind. The reporters are reporting that thousands of people in Sindh are walking , exhausted on the roads , trying to reach the bigger towns. On the way they are asking for food and water from passing vehicles. They are asking for lift so that they can reach the towns that are safer. There is no drinking water, food and medicines. People who gave charity in Ramzan are asking for help now. The scenes being written and talked about are enormously devastating. See Dawn newspaper front page today. (11-8-2010). A social worker from Johi in District Dadu, Sindh reports that thousands of people in hundreds of villages are affected. There is no relief in the form of food, water or medicines. The saddest thing being discussed in almost all television channels is the lack of presence of  rich philanthrophists in Sindh particularly. Only a few relief camps are seen in some areas and that too in very small areas. There is no organised relief activity of considerable presence by the Sindh government.
Baluchistan is in really bad state. Today the first hunger death of a woman was also reported from Baluchistan. The chief minister, Baluchistan also complains of lack of interest from the federal government in relief and rehabilitation for Baluchistan flood victims.The irrigation officers of the Sindh government are performing their duties albeit in an old fashioned, under staffed way. They are manipulating the closure and breaking of dykes in a primitive manner. There is no GIS system, no disaster MIS in Sindh . The NDMA is operating in a different way. There is no co-ordination between PDMA and other aid organisations. In Sindh there has been no disaster preparedness at the local level. The Sindh government has never taken any proactive role in disaster management. In previous devastation in Cyclone Phet hit coastal areas no relief was provided.
Sukkur town is also undergoing massive tense blacking out of the real situation as is reported in Dawn newspaper and also discussed on Sindh television. The residents are unaware of the situation and some are even saying that they are deliberately being kept in the dark. It is not known if the Sukkur barrage will withstand the excessive flooding. Large crops have been destroyed in Sindh province.So far the chief minster Sindh has kept the main control in his hands although at this time he should have formed a central crises cell with foreign and local experts in disaster management.
It seems that this province is now a living picture of how ill-governed and how exploited it has been by its own landed classes. The UN, RED CROSS, USAID should help the Sindh province directly by providing aid in food, drinking water, medicines, sanitation facilities, and final rehabilitation. The funds should be managed by the donors themselves and they should involve the local communities at the grass root level by the very small community groups and NGOs. As there is news of more flood waters reaching Sindh, there is now an urgent need to help Sindh.
Khyber- Pakhtunkhawa province has suffered enormously in these floods. as there were more rains their relief activities had to be intermittent. The provincial government has now diverted its development funds towards relief. There has been massive damage to house, residential abodes, some 7 lakhs according to a rough estimate as told in a press briefing by minister Qamaruzaman Kaira. All these will have to be built. There has been massive destruction of roads, bridges and a power plant. These will have to be built quickly.
UN has launched an appeal for flood relief to the tune of $460 million at this time. This they will spend in food, health, medicines, sanitation and water.There has to be more appeals later on for rehabilitation and reconstruction.
As large number of crops are destroyed there will be massive food shortages, especially fruit and vegetables in the very near future all over the country. The WFP says it has food for 60 lakh people for a month only after which they will be needing more food aid.
The minister Qamaruzaman Kaira has said that there is forecast of more rains in the eastern rivers and when that occurs there will be more flooding. Pakistan has suffered at a colossal scale and according to the UN interms of the impact this has been the largest reported flood in history. The world community must act fast in providing help and aid in order to save Pakistan.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Charity: So What Good You Will Do This Ramzan?

As floods devastate and ravage all the areas of Pakistan , people are calling out for desperate help for donations and aid. The whole Pakistani nation and the international community is gearing up to help in any which way they can. In this hour of desperate need we need to gear up all our strength and resources to help the people who have almost lost eveything in this massive catastrophe. But there are also some reciepients of our giving which solely depend on our yearly Ramzan Zakaat, donations, Sadqaat and Fitra.. We must not forget these organisations, hospitals, and centres. Our philanthrophy should not end at giving a certain amount to the flood victims. We must give our zakaat and additional money this year to these organisations also  that are dependent on our aid.I am listing some here but the next will continue on twitter #HELPPAKISTAN-RAMZAN  forum.
SCINOSA: Society for children in need of special attention.
216, The Plaza, Khayabane Iqbal, Clifton, Karachi.75600.FAX: #92-21 35837684 Tel: #92-21 35838787.
MCB Bank Ltd. PLS A/C No. 1984-6, Corporate branch, Sharae Faisal, Karachi.
Bank Al- Habib Ltd. A/C No. 24989-01-3, Zamzama Branch Karachi.
Chhipa Welfare Association : Also appealing for Ambulances, share in purchase, as they are running a large ambulance service.
Head Office: Jiwangee building, Bohra Pir, Karachi 74200.
Contact Social worker Ramzan Chhipa ; 021-111-111-134
Child Aid Association: Providing free investigations & treatment to nearly 200 children every month at National Institute of Child Health (NICH) through Zakaat and Donations.
A/C No. 0022-01001354 with Bank Alfalah Ltd., DHA, Phase1, Korangi Bypass Branch, Karachi.
A/C No. 1020-81-4781-01-3 with Bank Al-Habib Ltd., Korangi Road Branch, Karachi.
A/C No. 54-00065-1770-86 with Habib Bank Ltd., JPMC Branch, Karachi.
A/C No. 144-2017113-006 with Faysal Bank Ltd., Korangi Road Branch, Karachi.
Address: Child Aid Association, c/o NICH, Rafiquee Shaheed Road, Karachi, Pakistan.
Tel: 92-21 35673052, 35652945 (Fax Ext 108). Email / .
Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospitals :send your donations and zakaat to: Executive Director, Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital, Jhelum Road, Rawalpindi. Tel: 92-51-5487820-4, 5487834. Email :
All bank branches of Askari Bank Ltd. National Bank Ltd. United Bank Ltd. Bank Al-Falah Ltd. Allied Bank Ltd. Habib Bank Ltd.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Workplace discrimination.

Floods In Pakistan-Province by Province.

Happy in making tours, inaugrations, resembling Benazir. 

Sindh always looks like this in floods, grass and huts inundated.

Pakistan is facing major calamity and disaster as massive rains and flooding occurs in all its four provinces starting this month. More than 12 million people are affected, large areas with towns, crops and villages totally inundated. It started with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa province, previously known as the Frontier province.

Mr. Zardari takes a controversial trip to UK while floods devastate Pakistan.
Always rains bring this fate.
Water water everywhere, none in a PET bottle for poor in Sindh.
 The massive monsoon rains worsened the effects of summer melting of the glaciers up in the Himalayan mountain range. The swell in Kabul river added to the amount of flooding waters which submerged Swat, Malakand, Charsadda, Peshawar, Kohat ,DI Khan, Kohistan, and other areas. According to a flooding map the areas affected massively are Swat, Mardan, Charsadda, etc in KP and Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh, including Kot Addu , in Punjab. All other areas which are moderately flooded include Rahimyar Khan, Bahawalpur, Gilgit, Sibi, Dera Bugti, DG Khan, etc.
Who cares if world protected sites destroyed.
 As the flood waters travel down Sindh province there has been flooding in areas where the river banks are occupied and cultivated known as Kacha areas. The water has inundated several small towns and villages where several small Bunds or dams are breached. The Guddu barrage has withstood the water assault but the Sukkur barrage is yet to be tested . It is bieng predicted that due to breach of smaller bunds there will be flooding in larger areas of Larkana, Dadu, Nawabshah etc.
This happens to any political opponent. Politics in Sindh.
The response and relief in the already war torn and devastated KP province was expected to be affected and the army is helping as much as it can .
Cyclone PHET attacked the miserable of Badin, Thatta and coastal Sindh. No relief.
Karachi after rains.
 The situation in Punjab and Sindh shows the total lack of any planning for disaster management, rescue and relief. Due to the abscence of local bodies there is complete lack of coordination and relief work at local level. In Punjab several villages were inundated and the villagers are suffering fro lack of clean drinking water, medicines, food shortages already. The chief minister is saying today that if the federal government will not give aid then he will divert funds from his Sasti Roti scheme. This is being said when already the relief work was to be started. The Sindh situation is worst. In previous floods and cyclones also the survivors just had their meagre belonging damaged and swept away and were not given any relief either in kind or cash and this time also even the food they are given once in twenty four hours is stale and unpalatable.
 They are just dumped into dilapidated school buildings without bedding and the drinking water being given is muddied and stinking as shown in television documentaries both local and national media channels.
Poverty stricken people of the Sindhu river.
Opposition to new dams especially by Sindh, Dilemma?
 They are suffering from diarrhea and vomiting already. There are no arrangements for re-hydration etc. In Sindh the chief minister, too old for this difficult job is just touring some areas where he cannot fall into the water and i son a different plane from the irrigation officials. This time saving lands of the ruling elitist party at the expense of others does not seem feasible that almost all areas which will be inundated are Pakistan Peoples Party's domain
With or without floods life and with floods , death!
.Also as usual the "Sindh" administration attitude of "business as usual " shows the utter incapacity, awareness about disaster preparedness and mitigation. I do not know when will they understand? All the meager crops will be destroyed together with morbidity and mortality of the population.
They had no mechanism of involving the local health units in management. The school teachers appointed to run the camps are also not trained. The sheer lack of empathy by the elitist ruling part politicians who have all huddled up in their air conditioned residences in Karachi's Defence and Clifton areas shows the kind of mentality the poor Sindhi has to face. While they try desperately to salvage their few cattle and animals, life in Karachi Pajeros, KFCs , Pizza Huts goes on.I am attaching photos for you to see for yourself what the poor citizen has to suffer. I salute the poor citizen,hats off to his courage, patience and tolerance
Safe drinking water only for fashionable elected reps in 20 lakh blackened window cars of  Sindh. This is a mug shot for publicity.
. When will the elite leave power and when will Sindh become free and developed based on its own people.
Baluchistan also faced the massive floods due to typhoon Yenyemin and no relief was given.
My romantic life only for ancient legends. Rest stark dusty reality.
 Again this season it is being devastated and ordinary people who were farmers become beggars. The last disaster relief aid was also not given as promised and this year how can any one expect a better outcome.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Politics Of Violence In Karachi.

Karachi burns out of control.

ANP red flags show of force a common scene in Karachi .
We are helpless citizens. See any ethnicity here?
Death is mourned with flag or without affiliation..
living in fear , false sense of security.
Karachi resembles Belfast at its most violent peak days right now. Not all of it but almost. It resembles the drug infested Columbia right now, not all of it but well, almost  all of it. It resembles Washington in crime rates and gangs, well all of it. Then we "think " we are in a posh safe area, well are we ? Definitely "No". Remember the post Benazir Bhutto death violence? All of Karachi was burnt!.

What use modern bridges?
Where and how do we go?
Brutalization of society where administration fails.
This could be you or me.
 In Clifton older people were sleeping in their apartments above Servis shoes shop. They were evacuated by helpless residents when the gangsters set their building on fire. We came to know of the intensity of the arson attack after we saw the burnt metal, distorted beyond repair of the ceiling fans on the higher floors. There was no ethnicity involved. They came in hordes all over Karachi, especially in Gulistan -e -Jauhar area, burning petrol pumps, banks, shops, looting and pillaging with big stick sin their hands , citizens fleeing and hiding in their residences or wherever and whosoever's house they could. This happened and all was conveniently forgotten. The ethnic politics is being described as between Pathans and Muhajirs (MQM) right now but who were these at that time ? On 27th December?
Then one day as I and my daughter were coming in our not so new car which my husband was driving , again in Gulistane Jauher near Baluch more , there was a burning tyres road block which had suddenly appeared. The minbus driver started gesturing my husband to turn back immediately. By the time we made a turn a man with  a bamboo stick in his hand was ferociously running after our car almost reaching the back wind screen. Our car had even stopped in the middle of the return circle once but God wanted to save us. What would have happened to us if our car would have been reached by him. I shudder in dread. This was a Baluch belonging and favoring the ever vocal Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, who was hospitalized during a brief arrest in Karachi and this was supposed to be a protest. The ugliness and absurdity of violence shows how randomly it affects all who live here. He had no way of knowing who we were ethnically, religiously. We could have been writers writing in favor of Mumtaz Ali Bhutto.We could have been his supporters. But this shows how blind and ugly violence can be.
Here we are in this large city where all ethnic groups ought to live in harmony and here we are fighting over land . The mafias that are entrenched and have taken an ethno-social color are playing havoc with the lives o f the common citizen. What kind of city is this where exams are postponed every-time something happens. What kind of city is this where hospitals and clinics are burnt. What kind of city is this where residents are made siege over in their residences and streets with guns based on their presumed ethnicity as is happening in North Nazimabad and Orangi areas right now. What kind of political leadership is this where the Pakhtuns are lumped all into ANP and the Urdu speaking all into the MQM.
This is a repeated violence
 And what kind of administration is this (local and provincial ) which has completely failed to solve some of the problems and is snuggly clutching to its government. The politics of the Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh seems to be that let the ANP and MQM fight amongst each other and destroy each other. This party has not increased it's vote bank in any way and because Benazir was away so long  and was later killed, there is no chance of this increase in the very near future. So, the quiet consensus on let the 'Pathan' 'ANP' identity fight it out with the 'Muhajirs' 'MQM' identity. This is the most stupid strategy which the 'highly learned and wise' leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party , Sindh is keeping all its hopes on. The interior minister of Sindh is quiet on all issues. He is a close friend of the president so no one is questioning him. No one will speak that the "Emperor has no clothes on".
Trips from Mr. Rahman Malik , the suave federal interior minister trying to plug all leaks will never be a substitute for true leadership and peace consensus in Karachi. I see a very ugly picture emerging. We have not been able to come to a happy 'Karachi camaraderie' even though we are earning well here. We have not learnt to live in peace and harmony even though we are living well here. By violence and turf wars we will never gain any victory. Successful cities like Los Angeles, have developed healthy citizen lobbies and groups where they only differ and franchise by vote. We have to live like humans. ANP and for that all Pathans of Karachi ought to develop a mechanism to enfranchise their people based on free vote and not ethnicity and the MQM and all Muhajir people have to see that they do not appear to sway uncontested power over the city. Meanwhile the utterly, totally quiet and invisible interior minister ought to make a more interactive, proactive, open dialogue with all the ethnic, political and citizen groups and not some trite, clandestine meetings with " core committees" which have so far failed to contain this random violence
Consensus can only be built by open dialogue , not plug in meetings.
. The administration has to take a non-biased approach towards Karachi, as this is the lifeline of Pakistan. Especially now as Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa is totally inundated by floods and major areas in Punjab and now God forbid areas in Sindh. The interior ministry has to change its attitude and behavior and if need be its face.