According to some reports, the number of people directly affected by the massive floods in Pakistan is greater than those affected by the 2004 tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined. That’s somewhere between 14-20 million people, depending on the source.
We’re not talking about those who’ve already been killed - estimated at somewhere around 1600 to date - but those people who will need some kind of direct assistance in order to survive; those threatened with immenent disease, lack of food and shelter, schooling, electricity and medical intervention that the floods have brought in their wake.
Within ten days of the Haiti earthquake, more than 740 million dollars came pouring in with an additional 920 million dollars pledged. The UN called for for 460 million dollars for Pakistan, but so far not much more than half that amount has come in and the money that’s been pledged is not materializing as fast as the needs on the ground. Somehow the wellspring of international support that was tapped during the tsunami and Haiti’s earthquake is just not being tapped.
Is it because Pakistan has been branded as the world’s Terrorist HQ? The reason why clean cut army boys from rich western nations are dying in Afghanistan? Because donors don’t believe in the integrity of a government lead by Widower in Chief, Mr Ten Percent Zardari?
They are ugly questions, but if they’re rattling around in my head, what must the average Pakistani villager stranded for days in Swat Valley, or in my ancestral homeland of Sindh be thinking as the days pass and the hunger and need grows?