Socialist Worker

Pakistan: Left to die as governments refuse to provide relief

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2215

World leaders are still refusing to release funds that could save lives in Pakistan.

Millions of children in the country are at high risk of contracting deadly water-borne diseases as floodwaters continue to wreak havoc and basic infrastructure collapses.

The United Nations estimates that some 20 million people have so far been affected by the flooding and that up to 3.5 million children could become infected with diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

It has requested that governments donate to a fund that aims to raise £295 million for the victims. But with world leaders keeping their purses tightly shut, so far only a fraction of even that paltry sum has been collected.

In southern Pakistan, angry survivors blocked the main road in Sindh Province to protest against the slow delivery of aid.

“There seems to be no government here since the floods,” said Mohammed Laiq, one of the protesters. “We have lost our children, our livestock, we could hardly save ourselves.

“Where is the government?”

Continued flooding last week hit some of the poorest people in Pakistan. Some 25,000 families were made homeless in Nasirabad district, which sits between Sindh and Balochistan provinces.

A government official there told the Dawn newspaper that up to eight feet of water had engulfed around 4,000 villages, and that tens of thousands of people were seeking refuge in makeshift camps.

“We’ve received nothing,” said Mohammed Mithal Dool, who abandoned his farm for a tent in the city of Sukkur. “It’s only local people who are giving us food and water.”

But while the pitiful efforts of the Pakistani government to deal with the catastrophe are derided, ministers are anxious to make clear that the flood has not affected the on-going battle with “extremists”.

Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi boasted this week that troops fighting insurgents in Pakistan’s north had not been redeployed to help the relief effort.

“We have moved additional troops to southern parts of Punjab and the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. We are not going to let militants take advantage,” he said.

That the Pakistani government has such a clear sense of its priorities will surely keep its allies in London and Washington very happy.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 17 Aug 2010, 18:05 BST
Issue No. 2215
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.