Issue II: After the Floods | Introduction

Dec 2012

 Editors Introduction | a conversations series

500 killed. 3000 injured. 5 million affected.

The numbers are probably too low. In a country where being poor can mean you’re not counted; it also means the state might not notice your death. We have read little, if anything at all, about this year’s floods, probably because some lives are worth less than others. Maybe that’s why we still don’t have an accurate account of the lives lost and changed. Maybe that’s why victims are still waiting for help more than three months later. And maybe, our silence this year—and last year, when another 500 people were killed—means we will see a repeat in 2013. If we cannot be bothered to ask why they have happened 3 years in a row, then we cannot prevent them the next time around.

So, here’s our attempt to break the silence.

Tanqeed has asked six writers to talk about the floods three months on. Majed Akhter says we must acknowledge the social nature of flooding. Floods do not just happen because of excess rain—they are also man-made. Mushtaaq Gaadi says that the infrastructure of our canals, laid out by our irrigation authorities, are complicit in flooding the lives of millions. Daanish Mustafa says that class matters. Social power determines who gets hurt by floods and how much. Ahsan Kamal critiques the “urgency” bias of existing relief. Such biases fail to acknowledge how short-term efforts pale in the face of long-term reconstruction. Usman Qazi argues that the British were better at planning than the Pakistanis. And Aoun Sahi reports from his trip to southern Punjab within weeks of the floods. He explains how political parties, the army and Islamist groups branded their disaster efforts to promote their cause. Tanqeed also sat down with Mir Changaiz Khan Jamali, the Federal Minister for Science and Technology and a member of the National Assembly for Naseerabad and Jaffarabad—Balochistan’s affected areas—to get an update on the floods in his area. And we spent one week travelling in southern Punjab, to bring back a handful of shots that give us a picture of how things look now.

Together, each of our contributors paint a picture of a tragedy ignored. Let us hope it can be the start of a conversation.

-M.A. + M.T. (December, 2012)

Special thanks to Fazl-e-Rab Lund, Ahsan Kamal, Khalid Bajwa, Umair Rasheed, Sajjad Hussain Changezi and Usman Qazi for help—with translations and more.


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