Thoughts by Bahadar Ali

August 19, 2010

Pakistan Floods: What Ashu Lal says!

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 4:57 am

 Note: This is what Ashu Lal, a poet from Siraiki area of Pakistan, comments about the recent devastation caused by the floods in his area. I liked Ashu Lal’s talk so much that after watching his emotional interview with BBC, I decided to translate that for the understanding of the greater audience. In the whole translation the use of ‘I’ is synonymous with Ashu Lal.

I don’t think this destruction is because of ravaging waters in Indus, partly may be, but more it has to do with the greed of the local landlords. The Siraiki belt around Indus ( Katcha ) used to be a cattle hording area. People were very rich, some household might have hundred buffalos while other might have 200 but it is no more the same. We were told to till the land and become agriculturists and in return we got the same person now either owes money to fertilizer-supplier or to pesticide distributer. He has no more cattle but now he has one motor bike and a cell phone in his pocket, this is all he got in return. The connection of transformation from cattle ownership to an agriculturist has deep meanings. Prior to agricultural trend Kachi (his area) was known as ‘Sonay kee pachi’ ( basket of gold). People were rich now they are poor.

Before the wheat-cotton growing phenomena kicked in, people would connect rivers through small canals for the cultivation of cattle fodder only and there were around 500 natural lakes, so huge that some of them would take more than a day for a river to fill it. The river would pass through these area only after filling those lakes and these served as a natural check on the river flooding. Then greed of wheat crept in, the big landlord filled all those lakes with bulldozers over the period of time, to be used as wheat growing fields. Indus and its tributaries were left with narrow passages and zero natural storage to minimize the impact of flooding. Then what river would do, it would certainly jump out of its banks and would try to find its flow track like blinds, squashing anyone on its way. This is exactly what happened now.

I have never seen in my life that floods in these areas would actually do any harm to the people of the area or their cattle. Cattle could be moved but crops, no way! Reap the results the prosperous families overnight turned into alms seekers. When you level the outlets and close the flow channel, this is what rivers would do. Conform with nature, don’t bend it. It becomes furious if you meddle in its business. [ I support this argument based on the fact that heavy rains in Pakistan and fires in Russia are the result of tampering with Mother Nature ]. Every year, Lahore, mockingly also referred as Takht-e-Lahore, takes away Rs 95b from our area and returns back 10b, we don’t ask them too much after this calamity, just return our money that you took this year, and we’d be fine. But the scale is big, everything from Kala Bagh and all the way to the sea, is under water, more than 1100 KM. The scale of destruction is too big!

All the government official, members of parliament, they are unaware of the planning business, they just demonstrate their naivety when something out of blue falls on their head and then their mediocrity flashes everywhere. You have blocked the rivers but never bothered to make National Flood Commission or any other similar authority to plan and organize the construction of roads and residences according to the geographical realities of the watery areas. They are just useless scums, just useless

Here is the link to his original interview with BBC Urdu.

August 17, 2010

Horrible devastation, Please donate now!

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 1:40 pm
Instead of writing a detailed article, please accept this as a humble plea. Please open your hearts, as things are really bad in Pakistan. Now the estimated figure is that 4 crore (40 million) people have been affected and displaced people are left with nothing. UN today said 3 million childern are potentially target of water borne diseases like cholera because they don’t have clean drinking water. In their areas where ever flood passed it contaminated local water resources and it is no longer drinkable. A lot of Pakistani city names that you used to hear, are now under water. So far more than 40 cities with a population from 500,000 to 10 million are under water. We can imagine as countless villages and small localities would have succumbed to the ferocious flood waves and may not even got attention to the major affectee count. The major problem with the stranded public is the accessibility as most of the road infrastructure, bridges has been swept away. With new estimates it will take Pakistan at least 15-20 years to be able to re-develop that infrastrcuture. But that is long term, right now people are hungry! There are scenes where mother have seen two of her childern die of hunger infront of her but she has nothing to feed them. Now it has been establsihed this is the world’s largest recorded calamity. I don’t know why this is not making world headlines.
Some of you may not be happy with the government or Pakistan’s political image degradation might have created a sense of indifference. But trust me the people who have tarnsihed the image of Pakistan may be less than one percent of the one percent. Rest of the people are just like us albiet may be poorer but exactly like us. I am pointing out because people are not donating enough. My voice may be very weak, but please understand that calamity and its scale is way bigger than Tsunami or Haiti’s earthquake or any other natural disaster.
Please donate generously, wherever you think you should, just do it. If you don’t trust the official funds, give it to any indvidual or organisation which you trust but please do it. Time is running out. If we don’t act now, God forbid, we might get some disastrous news from that part of the world and at that time trillions of dollar would not be able to do anything. Timing is really important, please donate now!
If possible please spread this message.
Thank you.

August 14, 2010

Unprecedented Floods and Donor Fatigue

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 4:09 am

Yesterday seven people were killed only by snake biting in the flood ravaged areas of Pakistan. The deadly Python are increasing the sufferings of the flood victims in the Southern Punjab and now Sind.  While entire transportation infrastructure in Khyber-Pakhtunkhaw has been swept away, out of 5000 km roads only 350 has survived the ferocious flood waves. Out of 280 bridges only seven are left now.  Swat, Malakand is cut off from rest of the province and around one million population is besieged there because all the connecting bridges have been taken away by flood. Estimated cost of initial damage for Khyber only is more than $2B. While known number of casualties in just one province have exceeded 1400.

Overall in Pakistan this is the biggest calamity to have hit this country ever in its history. Unlike  the 2005 earthquake, the scale of destruction is huge and comprises the entire Pakistan. Crops worth  billions of dollars have been destroyed, estimated 350 thousand houses are there no more. 14 million  people are living under the open skies. They are fasting there without food, medicine and are victims  to potential disease outbreaks and insects. The scale of the disaster is unimaginable, hospitals,  schools and other infrastructure  cease to exist. There is widespread understanding that Pakistan has  been pushed back for at least 15 years. UN is calling it even the worst disaster than 2004 Tsunami.

But the problem is nobody is donating the money! Our media is focusing  on the shoe hurled at Zardari.  Government is defending that there was no shoe attack. Heated debates are being conducted over national media with appropriate time for commercial breaks. The fun and chatter of bickering politicians on the  TV is continued. Political point scoring is at its peak. Zardari is planning for another trip. This  time to Russia, though he has shortened it now. Though it could safely have been cancelled. This is the state of affairs in Pakistan!

Donors are not contributing enough this time. So far Prime Minister’s fund has received just Rs. Four  million! Once the flood waters recede the ominous task of of rehabilitation  of the homeless would  commence. To put it mildly, it would be like re-building half of the country. Crops, cattle and other  valuable of ordinary Pakitsani he owned, are there no more. A huge funding is required. No single state can do it. All of us need to realize that the magnitude of the destruction is huge and has  unfortunately could not be projected as it was supposed to be. Because of our deepest interest in the  dynamics and heat of politics we took it light and on Facebook and other social networks a vast 
majority of Paksitanis were busy in unfolding the ‘Joota’ mystry while town after town was getting  inundated. Very unfortunate!

Through this post I appeal you to please open your heart and contribute as much as you can. If you feel a credibility issue with the government or any NGO please figure out the people whom you think are  honest and hand it over to them. The donor fatigue is visible and understandable but please imagine one quainter of Pakistan has been rendered homeless. We have homes and comforts, please imagine if that is  taken away or water destroyed our property, what would be our feeling? This has actually happened in  Pakistan and fairly well-to-do people have also been forced to request for two meals a day in a relief  camp ( Even relief camps are not many and most of the people are wandering and have no where to go  after water took over their homes and properties) .

This is time to act, this is Ramadhan and the best place for your early Fitrana are the needy, helpless and flood-ravaged people out there. Lets keep the political point scoring for some other time. I am  purposefully not mentioning any of the charity here. However personally I’ve chosen International  Development and Relief Foundation ( ) a Canada based charity with a proven track record of  helping Pakistan in the past.

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