The recent Monsoon season and the heavy rainfall we received poured some questions in the minds of many a people across Pakistan. In this post I would like to address three of such questions, according to my personal opinion, and would also like to know what you think about these questions.
The questions are:
· Why did a natural disaster as devastating as the recent floods hit us?
· What can we at an individual and national level do for the relief of millions of people who are desperately looking towards us for help?
· In what way is the flood going to affect us, as a nation, in the long-term?
Considering from different angles many different perspectives can be observed. Some believe that the ‘timely’ construction of large dams in the country could have helped storing water in the reservoirs, hence reducing the chances of floods. Others are of the opinion that as regular cleaning of the river channels in the Northern region of the country was not observed, the swelling of the rivers occurred, resulting in floods. We also come across opinions such as calamities both natural and resulting from human activities are a result of our wrong doings and we need to consider what wrong we were committing to….!
I think there is one other way in which we can respond to the question. Calling to mind the Earthquake of 2005 and the relief activities for the affected ones, there were few trained rescue teams across the country at that time. The whole infrastructure for the relief efforts had to be created before we could set out to work and back then we didn’t have so many organizations within the ranks of civil society that could help the Government and the Army in the relief efforts, as we have nowadays. By the time the issue of IDPs from Swat and Buner came to surface, Pakistan had witnessed a noticeable change regarding the Rescue and Relief work. A bulk of organizations run by Pakistanis from different age-groups and different professional backgrounds made their way into the relief and rehabilitation of the IDPs. We not only handled the situation efficiently, but also with minimum foreign aid. So can’t we say that the Relief activities and the lessons of patience, relying on our own resources and training our own rescue teams after the Earthquake helped us fight and stand the Wave of terrorism and the issue of IDPs that followed it? If yes, then it’s possible that the floods and the worst plane-crash in the history of Pakistan are there just to prepare us as a nation for some crucial challenges awaiting us, where we need to bring these lessons of patience and courage into practice, which we are learning during all these traumatic events. Keeping this in mind, perhaps we need to exhibit more DISCIPLINE than ever, so that we are able to face every challenge that comes on our way with determination.
Before I deal with the second question, I would like to share (in my own words) a little story I heard somewhere.
A little child saw some fishes that had accidentally come near the shoreline and one after the other they were breathing their last. The child went near them and started throwing them one by one towards the sea. On seeing this, a man standing nearby went to the child and told him that it was impossible for him to put all the fishes back and perhaps most them would die before he can help them, then why bother spending time for them. To this the innocent child replied ‘It still matters even if I save a SINGLE life’.
So is my view, it matters even if I m able to help bring ONE smile on a face yet saving a Life is a deed much more admirable. This is the level of FAITH that can help us control and over-power the situation. Whatever can be done, in whatever capacity, and in whatever way possible is the only way to reach those who need us and who are looking towards us for our Love and assistance.
After immediate relief of the affected-ones comes their rehabilitation and the long-term impact of the events on the ‘collective consciousness’ of the Nation. Reports conclude that great damage to human-life, live-stock, and food-crops has occurred and perhaps we need lot of time to fill in the gap that has been created.
Quoting UN humanitarian chief John Holmes:
“While the death toll may be much lower than in some major disasters, taking together the vast geographical area affected, the numbers of people requiring assistance and the access difficulties currently affecting operations in many parts of the country, it is clear that this disaster is one of the most challenging that any country has faced in recent years.”
According to analysts, the country will perhaps witness food-shortage in the coming year owing to the damage to food crops. The ones who have lost their houses, schools, and means of earning livelihood have to start from a scratch and they will surely need time and resources to re-establish themselves. Epidemics may result, draining the country’s resources for providing medical treatment and medicines.
The floods will surely leave an indelible mark on the psyche of the Nation in the long-term. With the memory of the disturbing events and the plight of the effectees another significant recollection may last long. Nowadays we observe donation-campaigns running all over our local electronic media. We can see people from different walks of life sitting with and sharing their varying views with each other on any TV channel you tune-in (singers and musicians sitting next to engineers and Army personnel during donation campaigns for flood-affectees). Such UNITY is the noteworthy aspect of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war which we observe to be all around us today. Perhaps new avenues of thought and fresh revolutions may result from the stream of this Unity, carving a new world of Ideas and shaping some new dreams for the Nation to pursue.
Summarizing the post I would like add that as those who are directly affected from the devastation of floods have lost their near and dear ones, their houses and properties are gone; schools, bridges and roads where they used to walk are no longer there, we must pay our regard to them and to their sacrifices. Acknowledging those who laid down their lives in this calamity as Martyrs is a small token of respect we can offer them from our side.
I also feel that now is the time to revert to the principles of Unity, Faith and Discipline gifted to us by our Quaid, as the answers to all our questions lies there.
At the end let me share some beautiful words of Iqbal here, guiding us to hope and ambitions.
“Let not the sorry plight of the garden upset the gardener,
Soon buds will sprout on the branches and like star glitters;
Weeds and brambles will be swept out of the garden with a broom,
And where martyr’s blood shed red roses shall bloom;
Look how russet leaves have tinges the Eastern skies,
The horizon heralds the birth of a new Sun about to Rise.”
May we recover from this calamity soon and may Pakistan always prosper.