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Negligence, the biggest disaster in Pakistan

As if the ongoing political crisis was not enough, we are in the middle of a natural disaster, once again. As before, the state appears to be woefully unprepared. More than 23 districts in Punjab, 10 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and five in Gilgit-Baltistan have been affected by the September rains killing more than 270 and affecting 2.4 million people. The federal government says that nearly 45,000 houses have been damaged and 1,544,653 acres of irrigated lands have been inundated thereby impacting livelihoods.

Taken by surprise, the federal and provincial governments are running around undertaking rescue work with plenty of photo-op sessions. The Pakistan Army remains the most resourceful arm of the government and has rescued thousands of stranded people. Once again, the detractors of democratic governance — many of whom are assembled on the streets of Islamabad — view this calamity as another sign of failed ‘fake democracy’.

If media reports are true then the current government, despite briefings, did not accord disaster risk reduction the priority it needed. If anything, the disturbing scenes of a submerged Lahore made a mockery of the Metro Bus glory that was achieved only a year ago. Without a local government, proper drainage and early warning systems, Lahore’s development meant nothing for all those who suffered in the rains. […]

Post-floods: Pakistan must embrace a comprehensive reform agenda

Pakistan’s governance is a nightmare for its citizenry. More importantly, it is also an international issue now. The multi-dimensional disaster in Pakistan could lead to unrest and instability in a country where the state writ has eroded and non-state actors operate with impunity. Add to this environmental and planning failure[s]; and the script is set for a major upheaval that on one can afford. It is time that our policy makers realize the gravity of the challenge ahead and focus on reconstructing Pakistan

September 4th, 2010|development, governance, Pakistan, Published in The Friday Times|4 Comments

Rescuing the Pakistani state

Pakistani, and by extension the global media, are regurgitating tiresome cliches about corruption without talking about reforming state institutions. For instance, not a single commentator has said that we have a new accounting system in the form of the Project to Improve Financial Reporting and Auditing (Pifra) in place. But it has not been put into place effectively at the provincial and district levels. This is the way we will ensure transparency and good tracking of money received and spent.

August 26th, 2010|Published in the Express Tribune|8 Comments

Generous and timely: US Response to Pakistan’s Disaster

Ironic that the United States has been perhaps the most pro-active and generous country in helping us with flood relief. Pakistanis, especially those were stranded for days are grateful for such a timely help. Contrary to the propaganda unleashed by several vested interests about how great friends China and the Muslim countries are, the US has proved to be our friend when we needed it the most

August 23rd, 2010|Pakistan|6 Comments

Preparing an early recovery plan

Cumulative estimates of losses are increasing (initial estimates have gone beyond $15 billion) and over 20 million people have been displaced in 71 districts of Pakistan. This is a recipe for chaos and failure. There is no alternative to undertaking urgent planning efforts leading to an early recovery plan

August 21st, 2010|governance, Pakistan, Published in The Friday Times|2 Comments

Pakistan’s misery is just starting

Pakistan commentator and editor of influential cyber-magazine Pak Tea House Raza Rumi also warns of systemic collapse if the needs of millions of poor -- and now destitute -- Pakistanis are not met soon. "The people in southern Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [two areas known for militancy] are extremely angry and frustrated at the inability of the state to act in a timely and purposeful manner, he writes in a PTH blog.

August 18th, 2010|Pakistan|5 Comments

Disaster management – which way now?

The NDMA also needs to be taken seriously by senior decision makers. Its capacity should be strengthened and the organization decentralized through investing financial resources and deputing able, willing and energetic officers to it. Similarly, the bleak situation with the provincial DMAs needs urgent attention. Punjab does not have a provincial disaster management authority, Sindh and KP are better led but without powers or resources; and Balochistan has seen more PDMA heads pass on the torch than prime ministers in the early days of Pakistan – an achievement in itself

August 17th, 2010|Pakistan, Politics, Published in The Friday Times|3 Comments