Given the enormity of devastation caused by monsoon rains that triggered floods so far killing over 550 people and damaged thousands of homes, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif while chairing a meeting in the federal capital on Saturday announced to establish a relief fund with a fervent appeal to the people especially philanthropists to make generous contributions for providing immediate assistance to flood victims.
In such difficult circumstances, the people of Pakistan have always demonstrated extraordinary unity and open heartedness.
The way our people responded in the wake of 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods is still very much fresh in our minds and it is time to rekindle the same passion and spirit in order to reduce miseries faced by the flood victims.
The government, on its part, has approved a grant of Rs 5 billion to be used for rescue and relief activities and as compensation for deaths and injuries.
However the calamity is so big that government alone cannot meet all the requirements that also include rehabilitation of affected population, from the national kitty.
Hence, people will have to come forward and contribute generously in the relief fund. We will suggest the government to launch marathon transmissions on electronic and social media for collection of funds.
Overseas Pakistanis have always proved to be an invaluable asset for the country and extended help in difficult times.
They must be approached and engaged to get their donations in the relief fund. Our political parties have their own set ups in different countries which must be activated while rising above political differences to collect funds from expatriates.
If the campaign is taken forward with urgency and seriousness of purpose, we have no doubt in saying that a huge amount can be collected from them.
The way PM Shehbaz Sharif has visited flood ravaged areas in recent days and interacted with the flood victims is commendable.
Timely payment of compensation to bereaved families and the injured has sent a positive message to flood victims that they are not alone in this hour of trial.
This momentum must be kept until affected families are fully rehabilitated in their homes. We will also ask the PM to personally monitor inflows in the relief fund as well as their utilisation.
In the past, it has been observed that donations collected for calamity hit people were also used somewhere else.
It must be ensured that donations collected this time are completely spent for rehabilitation of affected population.
When the people will be sure that their donations will be used with complete transparency, they will be more forthcoming and donate generously for the victims.
As monsoon rains are still continuing in different parts of the country, concerned authorities must remain alert for timely rescue of the people.
The floods have once again brought to fore the vulnerability faced by Pakistan due to climate change.
Federal and provincial governments need to prepare short, medium and long term plans to build resilience against this challenge.