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Disasters, dengue and local government

By Raza Rumi:

In the past few weeks, the intractable crisis of governance has once again exposed the dysfunctional nature of the Pakistani state, and its inability to grapple with basic issues of citizenship. After all, the guaranteeing of people’s rights and entitlements is the responsibility of the state, which it simply cannot abdicate. In Sindh, 5.3 million people have been affected by flash floods, out of which 250,000 are now homeless. The floods had been predicted earlier but the provincial and federal authorities were shamefully ill-prepared like last year. In Punjab, over 5,000 people are battling against the dengue epidemic and there are indications that it may spread to other parts of the country.

The killings in Karachi have momentarily halted but as hundreds of citizens were butchered for no fault of their own, the politicians indulged in a macabre game of accusing each other of breaking up Pakistan. Pity that the discourse on Karachi came down to Zulfiqar Mirza versus the MQM and seldom did anyone debate the fundamental causes of ethnic conflict, social breakdown and the governance vacuum. The killings have been followed by the inundation of the megalopolis by heavy rains. The civic failures of Karachi and Lahore on drainage and public health have exposed how cities cannot function without effective, accountable local governments. […]

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