The tears of twenty million people

Published: July 25, 2012
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Pakistan was shattered by two catastrophic floods in 2010 and 2011 that killed thousands, uprooted millions and caused billions of rupees of infrastructural damage. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistan was shattered by two catastrophic floods in 2010 and 2011 that killed thousands, uprooted millions and caused billions of rupees of infrastructural damage.  PHOTO: REUETRS Pakistan was shattered by two catastrophic floods in 2010 and 2011 that killed thousands, uprooted millions and caused billions of rupees of infrastructural damage. PHOTO: REUTERS

As we moved in to the second decade of the 21st century, we left behind one that was filled with world altering events. Unprecedented disasters like the Pacific-Asian tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina eight months later, devastated communities like never before. We welcomed 2010 with cautious optimism, but again, nature took its cruel course.

Pakistan was shattered by two catastrophic floods in 2010 and 2011 that killed thousands, uprooted millions and caused billions of rupees of infrastructural damage. Entire communities and acres of land were lost in a flash. The 2010 floods, which were the more destructive of the two, killed over 3,000 people and displaced another 20 million, leaving them without food and clean drinking water, and lack of sanitation facilities, according to the UN. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, described it as a ‘slow-motion tsunami’, swallowing in its path all the belongings of the poor masses.

Graphic images, videos and live coverage by news agencies across the world portrayed the magnitude of the disaster, scenes of hopelessness, desperation and defeat. Countless questions came to mind. What did these poor and undeserving people do to be punished so ruthlessly? Why hasn’t the Pakistani government done enough to help its own people?

Yes, aid from all over the world gradually arrived to help them, but questions still linger about the level of preparedness of the government’s disaster management authorities.

When the World Bank, in a high-level meeting in New York, attended by prominent dignitaries of 25 nations, challenged the government to prove it could be trusted to distribute the aid adequately, doubts were raised again, as to how it would rebuild the shattered lives of the millions of affected masses. But given the corruption and bigotry that plagues the government and bearing in mind the calamity of the 2005 earthquake in northern Pakistan, it begs the question whether the Pakistani government has learnt from its mistakes.

The lack of contingency plans and with experts warning of possible floods during the 2012 monsoon falling on deaf ears, maybe rural Pakistanis should brace themselves for another disaster.

If anything, the authorities should place a big sign in their offices with the solemn statement the UN issued after the 2010 floods: It was worse than the 2004 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake combined!

Read more by Frayan here. 

Frayan Doctor

Frayan Doctor

A sub-editor at The Express Tribune who has a keen interest in national and international politics, social issues and sports.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.