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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Don’t blame Mother Nature....

Yes, neglected infrastructure and insensitive leadership is responsible for the catastrophe. The tragedy unfolding in Pakistan as a result of the country’s worst floods in 80 years is a subject of discussion everywhere in the world. The impact of this tragedy is far greater than the earthquake of 2005 because that earthquake remained confined to mountainous terrain whereas the rain and flood devastation has visited almost every inch of the country, across the board. While the torrential rains have been caused by natural forces, and rains of this scale are not stranger to the world, the human disaster has been compounded by decades of government neglect and the lack of planning and infrastructure. Media has reported that number of people affected so far is 12 million, with 650,000 homes destroyed over some 132,000 square kilometers.
The official death toll is 1,500 and rising. Hundreds of thousands of people are still stranded without shelter or supplies of food and clean water. The flood waters that have already savaged northwestern Pakistan are surging down the Indus river system towards the country’s south. At least 70 towns and villages have been inundated over the past 48 hours. Half a million people have been evacuated and 11 districts in Sindh are on the danger list. Weather forecasters are predicting further heavy rains, raising the prospect of even more flooding.
Already there is widespread anger over the absence of warnings or preparation and the utter inadequacy of the rescue and relief effort. Scores of news articles report flood victims huddled in makeshift shelters criticizing the government for failing to provide even elementary aid. In the flood-affected areas of Pakistan that have already been embroiled in war—such as the Swat Valley—the levels of disgust and anger are certain to be much higher. Just over a year ago, the Pakistani military poured more than 20,000 troops into the Swat Valley and neighboring areas in a bid to crush Islamist militias. At least two million people were displaced, with hundreds of thousands forced to shelter in overcrowded and squalid refugee camps. Now many of these people face the same situation again.
The disaster in Pakistan is the product of years of neglect. Monsoons are an annual event and floods occur regularly, yet successive governments have failed to develop proper flood warning systems and flood control measures. Infrastructure has not been planned to deal with natural disasters, whether the current flooding or the devastating 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. As in the case of Hurricane Katrina in the US in 2005, and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, rational planning is impossible under a social order dominated by private profit and the anarchy of the market. Those worst affected are inevitably the poorest layers of society.
Pakistan's economy was in a desperate state before the floods devastated large swaths of the country. According to Aljazeera TV, the fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters has cost Pakistan more than $35 billion, forcing the government to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial assistance. Pakistan is on track to get $11.3bn and it received billions more from the international community.
Responsibility for the current flood catastrophe should certainly be sheeted home to the Pakistani government and political establishment. But the impoverished character of countries like Pakistan, blames World Socialist Website, is also the product of more than a century of imperialist oppression. The social gulf between rich and poor has been exacerbated over the past three decades by the globalization of production and the transformation of Pakistan into a cheap labor platform. In the wake of the global economic crisis, international finance capital is demanding savage cuts to government spending that will only lead to a further deterioration of social infrastructure.
Moreover the partition of British India in 1947 has placed insuperable barriers before the establishment of a comprehensive flood management system for these rivers that cross the national borders. While the two rivals continue their bitter dispute over control of the Indus River, flooding has hit, not only Pakistan but now Indian-controlled Kashmir, where at least 100 were killed yesterday. This has highlighted the insensitive attitude of the so-called leaders towards the problems which have demonstrated to have potential of turning into human catastrophe.


  1. Her Shahkh Pay Aluoo Bay-taha Anjam-e-Gulistan Aysah He Hoga!

    Past & Present Rulers, Armed Forces, Bureaucracy (aka Bura Karaycey), Politicians,and Land Lords are responsible for the Chaos in Pakistan; hence all of them are criminals of Pakistan/Nation.

  2. thnx for adding SHOCKING in ur options..ur articles are shocking sumtimes and eye openers.
    agree with Rafat.

  3. Rains of this magnitude happen everywhere but there are arrangements and there is infrastructure. Can someone workout the amount of money spent (?) on maintenance of river protection every year.
    Do you any idea that the first floods followed by annual were experienced in 1973. There were no floods in 1977-88. In 1988, there were catastrophic floods again. any guess what was common factor in these floods, death etc?

  4. Ben, you are being very unkind to say the least. Yes, everyone knows the common factor, Pakistan Plunder Party. But you didn't have to highlight it.