Pakistan is witnessing an unprecedented natural calamity, due to monsoon rains, with 70% of the country inundated and over 1500 killed.
One of Pakistan’s southern provinces, Sindh, however, is bracing itself for the worst to come as the country deals with catastrophic floods. Deluges from swollen rivers are heading for lower-lying areas, threatening more misery for millions. In Sindh, the message of villagers is “SEND HELP”.
Unprecedented flash floods caused by historic monsoon rains have washed away roads, crops, infrastructure, and bridges. Flooded lower Sindh reels in pain and destruction, while flood victims strive to get away from gushing waters and live on roads.
In recent years, the Sindh province has faced a variety of challenges including low literacy, coronavirus toll, high infant mortality, as well as devastation by natural calamities. Sindh, despite being the second largest province in the country, lags far behind others. It is faced by a plethora of chronic problems. Extreme poverty and poor governance have abolished the peaceful society.
Considering the recent statement of Sindh assembly’s speaker and acting governor, Siraj Durani, who last week blamed the floods on ‘sins’, further exposes the scale of neglect. His callousness on this grave issue can be gauged from his absurd statement. Maniacs, indeed, link their own debacles to divine punishments.
Kashmore, a district of Sindh, located at tri-junction, connecting three provinces; a gateway to Punjab and Balochistan, is also suffering from mayhem and this city should be construed as an under marginalised area. Thousands of hapless people are being left in lurch. Social activists of Kashmore have accused the authorities and DC of funds embezzlement and for abetting nepotism. Other districts of Sindh are no exception. Social activists are working hand in glove with other organisations to make ends meet in Kashmore relief efforts.
Sadly, there are no proper medical facilities available even in district headquarters of interior Sindh. If someone wants to see the yawning gap between the rural and urban population, one need not go too far. The disparities can be noticed by comparing the standard of life in Karachi with living standards in villages that are situated near the city. While travelling toward Hyderabad via the national highway from Karachi, we realise that along both sides of the highway, areas lack health centres, proper schools and safe drinking water facilities.
The situation becomes adverse when we visit remote villages of Sindh where people do not even have transport or communication means to reach cities in case of crisis. In our modern age, there are hundreds of villages in Sindh where people have never seen Karachi or Hyderabad. They do not have the slightest idea about what large cities look like. These abysmal circumstances existed long before floods wreaked havoc in these areas.
Floods barely exposed the scale of inequality and deprivation in Sindh, bringing these people to the mainstream attention. In a few months, when the news gets old and humanitarian emotions of big city dwellers subside, the poor and unfortunate would return to their villages, build their mud houses again and continue living the way they have always known – only, much worse. The government does not seem to have any plans for reconstruction, and even if it had any, we are wise enough to conclude that they might not see the light of day.
Zulqarnain Khoso belongs to Kashmore, Sindh. He is a student of Economics.