Stories about relief

US-Iran renewed ‘friendship’: What’s in store for Pakistan?

On November 24, six major powers agreed with Iran on a landmark interim accord over Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran has committed to halt uranium enrichment beyond five per cent in return for some relief from sanctions, signalling the beginning of reconciliation with the major powers that would make the world safer. Some reports suggest that the P5+1, a group of six world powers including US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany, dialogue was merely a show. It was the Obama administration’s secret diplomacy that succeeded. This shows the willingness of Washington to resolve the long-standing dispute through diplomacy. The interim deal, for six months, has benefited both sides. Iran has ...

Read Full Post

The flood victims didn’t choose to beg, you made them!

The devastating rains in Sindh, which started on September 8 and continued for five days, have once again submerged the province. Seven districts of upper Sindh have been affected, with the worst-hit being the Jacobabad and Kashmore districts, where over 100 people have died in rain-related incidents. In 2010, most parts of upper Sindh and some parts of lower Sindh and Balochistan were affected by the floods, due to which millions were rendered homeless. In 2011, torrential rains wreaked havoc throughout lower Sindh and some parts of upper Sindh. After these tragedies, the government made tall claims about providing relief to ...

Read Full Post

11 rules for the Pakistani do-gooder

There’s much to be said about the spirit of volunteerism and philanthropy, so deeply ingrained in desi culture. In a material world, it’s great to see people making the effort to venture beyond their personal spheres.  Before leaving one’s comfort zone, however, it might be important to be a little prepared. This is true not only for the good-hearted burger-bachas, but also their proactive supervisors, armed to the teeth with terrifyingly good intentions.  After squirming in my shoes watching just such an army of angels at work, I thought it might be useful to have a Community Service Orientation Pack, ...

Read Full Post

Charity clubs: Everybody’s got a plan

There are six people seated around a table, each with paper and pencil in hand. There’s the quiet hum of an air conditioner and the rustle of paper and a serious, practical kind of silence in the air. A paper with questions listed on it is passed around the table for verification- these questions are to be asked in the interview conducted by these six people. Someone giggles, which is immediately cut short with “Seriously, please.” Is this a top secret board meeting of a corporation? Has someone died? No, it’s a meeting of a few 17 and 18-year-olds… ...

Read Full Post

Video blog: What I saw in Badin

Two hundred people have fallen prey to the devastation that hit Badin and other areas in Sindh by more than 1,000 millimeters of rain in the last month. This is the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in Sindh. Compare this to the 70 odd millimeters of rain that has fallen in Karachi over the past few days and one begins to realize the magnitude of the catastrophe Sindh is facing. I was in Badin earlier this week with a group of volunteers called SA Relief. I witnessed, first hand, what exactly was going on. From our entrance into the Golarchi area ...

Read Full Post

Too old to survive the floods

As I haul four heavy jute bags of relief food items on my back, frantically searching through the hundreds of tents, hoping to give away the relief goods to the ones most in need, my sight stops at an old man sitting with three other elderly women. They seem old. Old enough to not have the strength to even hold one of the bags I am about to offer them. As I approach their tent, even before offering them one of the bags, I am stunned at their reaction: These elderly people have tears trickling down their wrinkly cheeks and one ...

Read Full Post

Flood tax: Leave us alone, go catch tax evaders

So far Pakistan’s economic loss due to the massive flooding is calculated to be$43 billion. This is equivalent to one fourth of the total GDP  which today stands at $170 billion. For Pakistan, where financing the state, military and debt costs more than what we earn, such an enormous loss to the country’s economy has left everyones mouth agape. And it seems that due to the recent economic losses incurred, the dream of increased spending on human development is far from materializing. There is a dire need of funds to finance the relief and rehabilitation work keeping in view that the tax-to-GDP ratio ...

Read Full Post

Thinking big at a small age

It was the eve of August 22, when I was at a tent village established by the Scouts in Khairpur. I was reporting from the district as well as volunteering with the Scouts. As I was talking to the IDPs, inquiring about the facilities, one woman said that though they are being supplied with food and shelter, they don’t have any money. Suddenly, a boy standing at a little distance jumped in: “Allah saved us from the floods, we have been brought here, we should be thankful.” This was how I met 11-year-old Ali Haider, a high-spirited, confident and slightly ...

Read Full Post

For those who haven’t donated…

I was endlessly going on about how fundraising for the flood survivors has developed into some kind of a competition among various organisations, all indefatigably striving to outdo each other, when my wife suddenly interrupted. “What are you doing to help them?” she said. “Nothing that I know of.” A pause followed. After struggling to find some face-saving answer, I naively replied, “Don’t know yet.” “Donate through an NGO, perhaps?” she suggested. “Hmmm… but I don’t trust them.” “Then what else will you do?” Good question. I wanted to help, make a difference… but how? Perhaps the events that followed the earthquake in the country’s north in ...

Read Full Post

‘When you cheat, you steal someone’s right to fairness’

As our car and truck approached Thatta, one question kept echoing in my mind. Do we really deserve to see our country in such an agony? The answer that repeatedly kept cropping up in my head was “yes”. Both my heart and my mind had come to this conclusion. Regardless of the pain, I wasn’t able to simply ignore the answer. My friends and I were taking relief goods to Thatta to distribute amongst the flood-stricken IDP’s who had settled down in Thatta. Those who we could not help After crossing Dhabeji, I witnessed the flood ravaged people camping on both ...

Read Full Post