SITUATION OF FLOODS IN SINDH AND WORK FOR THE RELIEF AND REHABILITATION OF SINDHI PEOPLE
London – The unprecedented floods in Sindh continue even after a month. Scandalously still new major towns and hundreds of villages continue being inundated resulting in displacement of hundreds of thousands more Sindhis, bringing further destruction of communities, livelihood, crops, homes and infrastructure.
WSC believes, that the current floods in Sindh and resulting unprecedented destruction is a concerted effort to direct the destructive powers of a natural phenomenon to eliminate and uproot a nation and subject them to a long-term process of slow genocide. These assertions are based on the following facts, inferences and analysis:
1. Sindh has been drowned resulting from literally hundreds of breaches to river waters in Kashmore, Jacobabad, Sukkur, Shikarpur, Larkana, Dadu and Thatta. There are serious questions, suspicions and concerns within Sindhi people, and now even the government circles, about the first major breach, Thori bund. This breach so far has resulted in displacement of about five million people, drowning of 4000 towns and villages, loss of trillions of worth property and crops and immeasurable pain, suffering and indeterminate consequences. The British authorities who built the Sukkur barrage recommended cutting river Indus from Ali Wahan if the water levels cross the threshold of barrage’s capacity. As the waters will then divert to the desert areas of Naro, Thar and eventually ending in sea taking historical routes of Hakro and Mehrano riverbeds. Off course, this also would have resulted in displacement but the population is sparse, sand has far greater ability to absorb water and people in such circumstances occupy high locations on sandy dunes. It is now emerging that the river Indus was cut at Thori to mainly to save Panoo Aaqil cantonment, Qadirpur gas installations and Fauji Fertiliser.
There were numerous statements, to subdue the destruction caused by Thori breach, from many main functionaries in the government that the waters down Kotri Barrage are not anticipated to cause any significant damage. The responsible authorities had ample time, three weeks, to organise and prepare to stop any further losses including strengthen the bunds, make arrangements and store materials and machinery in case of any breach.
However, the responsible remained criminally aloof, incompetent and indifferent as a result more than half of Thata district submerged in waters.
Hundreds of further breaches followed the major Thori breach in Jacobabad and Soorjani breach in Thatta. There are so many stories and accounts about these breaches. In many cases, the more powerful ones determined the course of events and resulting fate of millions.
2. The government, at Sindh and federal levels, have miserably failed to comprehend the magnitude of destruction and resulting painful consequences in Sindh. Their preparation to avert damage has been patchy, ad-hoc, inefficient and insufficient. The government response to the relief of Sindhi people so far has been dismal lacking the required commitment, focus, resolve, resource mobilisation, strategic approach and action plan.
Now even the statements from the government minsters are fading. The initial zeal to help Sindhi people appears to be getting subdued. The federal government to-date has not issued a single penny towards the relief work as they are in the process of preparing a policy for this. Sindhi people are passing through a disaster the comparable examples of which are very rare in human history and the federal government after more than a month of disaster has not been able to make a policy allowing them to release the relief funds.
What a hell! Even Sindh government has only released about a billion rupees for relief work, less than 1%, of the development funds available at their disposal. The initial statements that the government would ensure settlement of Sindhi people in Sindh’s urban areas now clearly appear to be just hollow declarations. They failed to protect and condoned the killing of Sindhi people who were taking shelter in Karachi.
The figures suggest that less than 10% of the effected Sindhi people have received partial and insufficient relief aid. 90% are either dependent on their own social networks or are allowed to suffer and die without any help. The statements from the federal government minsters are causing further insult to injury and rubbing salt on the open wounds of Sindhi people. Rehman Malik, Federal Interior Minster, in Sindh said that we have got so much aid that we do not have even space to keep it. So why it has not reached to millions of Sindhis homeless, hungry, witnessing death of their loved ones. To most outrageous and irresponsible statement came from the Prime Minster of Pakitan, Yousaf Raza Gilani, who said that Sindhis died because of their own stubbornness. He did not even bother to expose his deep hostility, hatred and prejudice against Sindhi people. Making this statement he forgot the figures from the government sources and from WHO confirming that everyday on average 50 people, mainly children and elderly, are dying from diseases.
In Sindh, the floods have caused death of more than 1500 people so far. In coming days it will continuously go on rising.
It is very sad that now the Federal Flood Commission is abhorrently trying to drown the losses, damages and destruction caused by floods in Sindh by clearly manipulated figures.
Everyday the figures of losses in Punjab are rocketing while the losses in Sindh where floods still continue with full force keep diminishing. We consider it as a shameless ply of federal government to deny Sindhi people the rightful share in international aid and relief and rehabilitation funds.
3. The attitude of MQM towards the epic suffering of Sindhi people has been shameful and clearly shows that they strictly follow their narrow-ethnic mindset and fascist politics and policies. Those people whose fathers and forefathers were given shelter, best homes, running businesses and industries and lands have remained indifferent and have systematically opposed the rehabilitation of Sindhi in their own cities and have resort to terrorise Sindhi people to stop them to take shelter in Sindhi cities. MQM that sent hundreds of truckloads of relief goods to north appears almost completely absent from the scene of relief work in Sindh. Now they have stopped even the lip service.
On average 50 people, mostly children and elderly, are dying daily since the floods began in Sindh. The level of displacement and death would have required the mobilisation of emergency medical response at war footings. However, the minister for health, remains completely, shamefully and criminally aloof, indifferent and absent from the scene.
The statements are now pouring on a daily basis from MQM leader, Altaf Hussain, to instigate army to take control of power is an ongoing effort of MQM to terminate the feeble political process in order to take complete control of Sindh as during the Mushraf era.
4. The role of so-called national media is shameful, apathetic, arrogant, ignorant and clearly depicts their deep hostility and disregard of Sindhi people. The coverage of flood destruction, displacement and death in Sindh has been bare minimum, as they cannot completely ignore it. While seven million people are homeless, people are dying every day, to-date new major towns are being submerged, for ARY and GEO, the news of three
Pakistani cricketers implicated in fraud allegations is of a far higher priority than the submerging of Khairpur Nathan Shah, a town of almost quarter million people. The focus of most recent debates on ARY and GEO have been about the possibilities of army taking power and how they can take power. The intellectuals of establishment invited in these discussions are clearly very pleased about the course of events. They believe that this is the best time to change the socio-political set up in Sindh once and for all.
5. The Sindhi political and civil society organisations have played their role and have put their best efforts to help their people in this hour of unparallel need. However, it is important that they ask questions from themselves: have they mobilised every possible resource at their disposal, have they asked to work every one of their workers wherever they are in Sindh.
More over, they should recognise and decisively act at this critical history-defining moment as a matter of utmost urgency for a coordinated, concerted and wise approach to help and lead their people out of this epic tragedy. Failure to do so may result in irreparable damage to our existence as a viable nation.
In these unprecedented conditions for Sindhi people WSC strongly demands from the Sindh government that all the resources at their disposal should be immediately mobilised to provide relief to flood effected people of Sindh. The government should involve all sections of Sindhi society including civil society organisations, analysts, technocrats, intellectuals and writers to
develop viable strategies and action plans, long and short term, to deal with and fasten the work on this multifaceted tragedy. The Sindh government should take a principle stand to get all the financial resources from the federal government to undertake effectively the relief and rehabilitation work. The government should ensure that in the short term all the flood effected receive necessary relief, food, shelter and medical support to survive. In the long term, the government should ensure that all the flood effected are rehabilitated and the destroyed Sindh and its infrastructure is rebuilt.
In future, Sindhi people should never be allowed to live in kacho as it is equivalent to sending them to another disaster waiting to happen. Sindh government should give land and necessary financial support to establish sustainable communities in Sindh cities including Karachi and Hyderabad. The government should take a principle and courageous stand against the ethnic forces that want to stop the settlement of Sindhis in their own cities. The government should ensure that they should get fair share, proportional to damages, of international aid. The government should instigate a high-level independent inquiry including Sindhi technocrats and analysts to investigate the breaches particularly the Thori breach.
In these circumstances when the entire Sindhi nation is passing through two unprecedented floods, flood of river Indus and flood of tears of Sindhi people, WSC requests all the Sindhi political and civil society organisations, intellectuals, technocrats, intellectuals and writers to rise above political differences, personality clashes, egos and prejudices to work together in order to help, guide and lead our people out of this disaster of grave historical consequences.