Disaster Relief & Propaganda

Dec 2012

English | اردو

From political parties and the government to the army and Islamist groups, everyone has tried to score political points on tragedy.

I visited Punjab’s Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan districts with Rana Farooq, the Federal Minister for Climate Change, and his official flood relief delegation this September. Both districts were badly hit by flash floods in the first week of September, resulting in heavy losses of both lives and property. Thousands of people were displaced from their homes.

When I arrived, the federal and provincial governments had set up separate relief camps for flood victims—and both were carrying huge posters of the political parties in power The provincial relief camps carried huge posters of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership—Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif. And the federal government’s camp was covered with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) flags and huge hoardings with pictures of its leadership.

This major rivalry played out on the ground. Local leaders from both parties were trying to get the maximum number of tents, so they could distribute them in their area of influence. Around the time of my visit, the provincial government’s relief efforts was put on halt for more than two days, after a rift between the PML-N leadership and Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa’s family. Another time, the provincial government—primarily responsible for relief efforts after the 18th amendment—denied facilitating a delegation led by Farooq. Earlier, in Dera Ghazi Khan district, the Governor of Punjab, Sardar Muhammad Latif Khosa, was denied entry to the provincial government’s relief camps. And when Farooq was visiting, he was more interested in ensuring that relief goods were evenly distributed among different PPP groups in DG Khan, than making it sure that relief reached people on the ground. In Rajanpur district, the federal minister did not visit a single relief camp, deciding, instead, to spend two hours at the home of Sardar Muhammad Amanullah Khan Dreshak, a PPP Member of the Provincial Assembly who annoyed with his party leadership. The minister left Dreshak’s home only after Pakistan Air Force pilots threatened to fly back to Islamabad without him.

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One Response to Disaster Relief & Propaganda

  1. Macmac on Jan 2013 at 3:02 AM

    Thanks for taking time to join the faebcook campaign. This is a first step in addressing the deeper challenge of America’s Islamophobia. We must be a voice for peace, and this voice must be followed with action. We hope to plan multiple trips to the flood areas. We are developing a partnership with the Multan’s Women Hospital, near the most affected area that is in Southern Punjab, where we can provide ongoing community health work. We are also trying to see Water For All engaged there so we can see a water-well movement spread. Please join on faebcook with thoughts and ideas. I’ll be glad to help you plug in, and get the info and opportunities you want. Everett Miller with IMLI’s Community First Responder is coming to Texas and Tennessee in October and can connect with folks in person.

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