Crisis brings about both the worst and the best in man. The time-tested adage is hitting our conscience again and again in different forms in the ongoing flooding caused by the monsoon rains in all four provinces of the country. The worst is coming out in the form of propaganda against the Pakistan Army, while the best can be seen in the rescue and relief activities by the army, government people, philanthropists and international aid.
Recently, UN Secretary-General concluded a three-day visit to Pakistan and surveying the devastation from the air in Pakistan and meeting the victims on the ground, he said that nature had hit the wrong targets and that whatever he had seen in Pakistan was unimaginable. Pakistan, despite its least role in climate-related emissions, has been among the most Climate Change-affected countries. His appeal for $160 million to the international community has yet to get a response. The aid is trickling in but that is far from our expectations.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa make a visit to flood-hit areas in the four provinces on a daily basis. Chief ministers of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are making similar trips to flood-hit areas. Sadly, I cannot include the name of the Punjab chief minister for he went to the inundated districts of Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur once. But this does not mean that the district administrations in these districts are not working as per our expectations. The public, however, expects our chief executives to visit the victims, hear their sufferings and assess the situation themselves.
The army takes lead in the time of disaster. Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, in a conference with Corps Commanders, decided to provide immediate assistance to the flood victims across the country and mobilized the army to assist the people in relief activities. The three forces dedicated their ships, helicopters and boats to the flood victims and the army reached every place that no provincial government could reach.
Before hitting the field, army officers and jawans first announced contributing their salaries to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. They reached the people in need with the army’s stock of rations.
Going a step ahead, the army chief has suggested the construction of dams, small dams, to protect the country in the future. He also visited the destructed riverside hotels in Kalam and demanded an investigation into the illegal constructions. When the army was doing work day and night in rain- and flood-hit areas, baseless propaganda kicked off on social media against the army. The helicopter crash was politicized. The propaganda, however, failed when, after the helicopter crash, the Pakistan Army increased its relief activities as the flood situation spread across the country. The role of the Pakistan Army in the flood situation is now well-documented. On the other hand, the picture of five youths trapped in the river in Kohistan, who were later washed away in the river, after not getting help for hours still haunts me.
Why did the civilian government not make any attempt to rescue the trapped youths by sending a helicopter to the KP government? Other than the army, the prime minister and chief ministers, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is seen visiting Sindh every day. He appears to be more diligent than another minister in his flood visits. He should come out of Sindh and visit other parts of the country as well. Similarly, the chief ministers of Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan and the prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir should be seen more.
Maryam Nawaz is another leader who is also lagging behind in flood work. She only also thought about Dera Ghazi Khan’s affected areas and visited the region. Imran Khan has conducted another telethon, demonstrating his philanthropist appeal among the people. Well done, Khan sahib.
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