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Letters—legacy of the West is behind the flood horrors in Pakistan

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Pakistan is responsible for less than 1 percent of global carbon emissions
Issue 2821
Floods in Pakistan

Floods have killed some 1,000 people in Pakistan (Picture: DVIDS)

The coverage of the floods in Pakistan by most of the media is saturated with the spirit of colonialism and imperialism.

There is much attention on the “corruption” and “lack of climate action” by the government of Pakistan. But Pakistan is responsible for responsible for less than 1 percent of global carbon emissions.

High-emitting corporate robbers such as the US, the European Union, and Britain don’t get the blame.

As the flood damage spread, the International Monetary Fund agreed to advance a new loan. But this was only after prime minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government introduced austerity measures, including sharply increasing domestic fuel prices. In the middle of horror, the world’s financial brokers insisted on more suffering. 

Already servicing the present debts will cost Pakistan £32 billion until the end of 2022. All of that should be cancelled and the money used for flood relief. 

There can be no climate justice without debt justice. Pakistan’s suffering cannot be separated from the hundreds of years of plunder by the Western countries and the destruction of local resilience.

Had it not been for the British imperial project, Pakistan would be in a far stronger position to  deal with the climate emergency. And it would be a more powerful force against the lack of action by the global powers. 

The floods are rooted in an economic and political systems that local actors have very little control over. They are part of that system, but they are very much subordinated to bigger players.

So our anger, if we are in the West, should overwhelmingly be at the captains of capitalist control here. It is for the people of Pakistan to deal with their political leaders. Our job is primarily to understand, criticise and organise against the Western and global system that is the fundamental cause of the devastation.

Abby Goodhall

East London. A supporter of Debt Justice


Carnival is treated differently

Notting Hill Carnival, and Reading and Leeds Festivals fell on the same weekend. But the way they were reported on was very different. 

The history of Notting Hill Carnival and its association with black people means it is a target for racist reporting.

The media had seized on stories of arrests and assaults and the death of a police horse. 

The chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation pushed to end Carnival forever, saying, “We cannot have a situation where every year, the bank holiday weekend, I discuss why there are so many of my colleagues injured or assaulted. Members of the public injured or assaulted.”

In contrast to the reporting of Notting Hill, there was less media attention on Reading and Leeds. Yet there was not a lack of stories to report on. 

Tents were burned in bonfires, two teenagers were spiked with injections, a 16 year old died from taking drugs, armed police got involved, and 50 people were ejected for disorderly behaviour. 

An article in the Evening Standard newspaper was typical of how it was treated—“Forget the arsonists, this was an absolute firecracker of a festival”. 

Because the Reading and Leeds Festivals are not associated with any racialised group, the media and police are less inclined to condemn them.

Chinyere Amadi-Kamalu  

Brighton


GRT people attacked again

Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller (GRT) communities missing out on financial support to pay soaring energy bills is a fresh attack on these communities. 

Yet again they are being penalised for their way of life. Many people in GRT communities live in caravans, yet the Tories either haven’t bothered to consider this or have purposely omitted it.

This is overt racism and another attempt to erase their way of life. I work with Roma communities in my area. They do not live in caravans, but this pattern of ignorance from above continues. 

For example, there is a disproportionately high level of digital exclusion. 

With the application process for schemes such as free school meals moving online, families most in need of this support get forgotten. 

We must join with our GRT brothers and sisters to ensure they have access to the fuel bill grant. But we must also unite against the whole cost of living crisis. 

Toni Bruce

Glasgow


Enough is Enough does not give enough strike solidarity

The 500,000 supporters of the Enough Is Enough campaign should be a source of practical solidarity to the current strikes. If each supporter:

  • Donated just £1 a week then that’s £500,000 for hardship funds every week
  • Was asked to get out on the street and collect for those funds, then that could easily be doubled to £ 1 million a week. What a massive boost this would be for every RMT and CWU union striker and others as well
  • Was asked to attend a national cost of living demonstration and to bring a friend then we could have one million people marching in support of the strikes

If the top table at these rallies doesn’t argue for this then Socialist Worker and SWP supporters must do this. Otherwise, the rallies risk being nothing more than an opportunity for people to cheer “big name “ speakers without actually helping a single strike. 

Rallies have never won a single dispute. Practical solidarity does.

Richard Milner

Coventry SWP and Unite


Words can bring back people’s real pain 

I am not convinced by the replies to my original letter about language used in a cartoon in Socialist Worker.

There are groups of people, mainly women, for whom the word brings back memories of past experiences and the stigma that they faced. There are people who may have been adopted, had children taken away from them or suffered in other ways. 

My comrade was not simply objecting to the word. He was expressing the pain due to the memories that the word brings back to that group of people. I understand younger people have not experienced this situation. Times change. 

The people I refer to are of an older generation and their oppression is largely forgotten—but not by themselves. The word brings back all the past pain.

I share with comrades the anger against all those who ignore the suffering faced by many people. That includes those at the bottom of the income range, on disability and other benefits, the young people denied proper education and struggling in poorly paid jobs. 

The simple point is that we should be aware of hidden oppression. If our words have an adverse effect we should act with compassion and support.

Ralph Tebbutt

Kent


Don’t wait for trade unions

It was very welcome to see Socialist Worker (31 August) offer a range of viewpoints on how to deal with the most important issue we all face—the climate crisis.

My conclusion is that it’s important in the longer-term to involve trade unions and the power of workers. But I don’t see anyone striking over the environment at the moment. Unions stay within the laws that prevent that.

So our best hope to survive is a really disruptive and, yes, property-destroying street movement.

Emmajayne Holdgeth

West London


Truss speeds us into abyss

I see that Liz Truss has pledged to look at abolishing speed limits on motorways. 

What an apt image for a party that wants us to hurry over the edge of the cliff of climate change and rampant poverty.

Stanley Shilling

Birmingham


Nukes threat in Ukraine

Why isn’t there more alarm about the fighting in Ukraine around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant complex? The consequences of an artillery or missile strike could be catastrophic.

The slightest miscalculation by the forces on either side could trigger devastation that would have consequences for decades. 

Sharifa Evanson

On Facebook


Unison—no fighting talk

The Unison union has started a consultation on the English local government pay offer. 

It tells us the below‑inflation offer is “much higher than members have seen in recent years and is the highest flat-rate offer made to the public sector this year”. 

And there is no recommendation to accept or reject. Don’t be surprised if we get another year of real‑terms pay cuts

Colette Sutton

East London

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