The full cost of ravaging floods that have submerged around a third of Pakistan is yet to be known but one thing remains certain even now: no amount of funding can be deemed enough to rescue millions rendered shelterless, over a thousand dead and more than 33 million people impacted. No magic trick can miraculously rehabilitate hundreds of thousands struggling for a single meal in relief camps perched all around.
However, the obsession of many members of our political and religious elite to harp old tunes, turning a blind eye to grotesque human misery, can only be explained by the iron-clad grip of power games over realms of reason and passion. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif did exactly what was expected of him in such extraordinary times by reaching out to world leaders on the sideline of the UN General Assembly session. Pakistan has never sent out any louder distress signals and as very appropriately remarked by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “Pakistan is drowning, not only in floodwater but in debt (too).”
The Parisian offer to host an international conference to help Islamabad present a case for climate resilience is a splendid opportunity. Ergo, no uproar on social media should be allowed to take the limelight away. Because while politicians are allowed the leeway of habitual forgetfulness, history bears witness to similar inclinations in the recent past.
To blame people sitting on the pulpit for all that has gone wrong would be akin to only giving one side of the story. Both government and military are grossly “overstretched” trying to ensure the provision of humanitarian aid, but in the words of Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman, “the volume is too high to just do [it] in one go.” The same people rejoicing the arrival of global icons like Angelina Jolie in a bid to step up relief efforts are left speechless by the grandiosity of their local celebrities kicking the boats out and having nights on the tiles in a land far, far away. *