Pakistan: the world watches powerlessly as floodwaters rise

Fears that corrupt politicians would syphon aid into party coffers are only compounded by apparent government complacency.

Another tragedy befalls Pakistan. After last year's unprecedented floods, the waters are back with a vengeance. "More than 20 million people were affected by the worst flooding disaster in the country’s history" in 2010, blogs Imtiaz Tyab on Al Jazeera. "The high waters are back" the Toronto based correspondent continues, "and although different from the 2010 disaster (heavy rains inundating low lying areas, rather than monsoons causing rivers to overflow their banks) and a smaller area affected, nothing can ever prepare you for the devastation it causes."

But the sight on television of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani personally delivering relief packets to families affected in Naucot, yet claiming on camera that the scale of the disaster was such that no government could respond adequately, was highly disturbing. Subsequently, he has stated that ""We are facing allegations of corruption from childhood," he said, assuring that foreign aid, when received, would be distributed in a transparent manner. He said the damage caused by the floods on such a large scale is beyond comprehension" reports PakTribune.  

He's right about the scale of the devastation to Sindh Province. The BBC's Orla Guerin notes "at last count the estimate is more than 7.5m people, and the figure is continuing to rise. Of these, about three million are critically short of food, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). More than a million houses have been damaged or destroyed, and almost 4m acres (1.6m ha) are under water."

Do aid agencies and the international community believe PM Gilani? The response from now on will provide an answer.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardawi is alleged to have hung around until September 8 before requesting international assistance. Why did he wait? By that date five million people had already been hit, reportedly. 

Is global warming causing this excessive flooding? Or is it merely a factor of the cycle in the history of humanity? For if it is the former, these catastrophes will only occur in ever greater numbers and frequency. Most of the people I know are concerned at the number and scale of these earth-shattering events. We've known of huge tremors, cyclones and tempests before, but never like this. These events appear to be happening far too often for this to be merely cyclical. It's a loud wake-up call to climate change sceptics, I believe. Whether those people will reformulate their views is questionable. US Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry appears to fall into that camp, which is worrying.

For when profit is involved, so policy adapts to follow suit.

Pakistanis meanwhile must wonder what on earth they've done to suffer so from the forces of Nature. And while their government tinkers at the edges of the problem - as if fiddling while Rome burns, as it were - a dry, safe and secure future for these people will be an impossible dream.

Should relief come the question remains, will this now be an almost annual event? If people are helped now will they need assistance again next year? Surely a long-term resettlement programme would go some way to providing these people with enduring security. Yet, in a society like Pakistan's, is that feasible?

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