An appreciable positive response | By Muhammad Zahid Rifat


An appreciable positive response

HISTORICALLY speaking, Pakistan had faced worst ever deadliest flash floods and heaviest rains in most parts of the country which started in June 2022 and continued for couple of months causing massive devastation and destruction and were described to be three times more in intensity and catastrophe than 2010 flash floods.

The federal and provincial governments launched rescue efforts at the maximum level for the floods and rains-hit people to the safer places as quickly as possible as their houses were massively damaged or completely swept away.

On a humanitarian appeal by Pakistan for assistance, a number of friendly countries nd international organizations promptly responded by sending in planes loaded with relief goods for helping the flood-affected people on humanitarian grounds as sympathy and solidarity with the unfortunate catastrophe victims in different parts of Pakistan.

As the rescue operations reached final stages with close cooperation and help of the armed forces officers and jawans, helicopters, boats and other equipment, with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif spearheading the efforts for helping the larger number of floods and rains victims way long with the federal and provincial authorities concerned.

Pakistani leadership availed every possible opportunity to apprise the international community of the massive destruction and devastation and miserable state of the large number of homeless people and sought maximum help and assistance for the affected people.

Pakistan case so presented at the appropriate highest level before the world at large about the massive devastation caused by the recent monsoon flooding inundating one third of the country.

In order to overcome serious post-flood challenges of rehabilitation and reconstruction , Pakistan needed minimum of US$6.78 billion in one year for flood-affected districts, more than US $ 6.17 billion in the next three years and another US $ 3 billion over five years in long term help.

According to the framework so prepared, Pakistan’s total flood losses were assessed to be around US$ 15.32 billion with the total affected 94 districts across four provinces and 33 million people, 8 million of them becoming homeless and over 1700 men, women and children died as a result of climate-related events besides standing crops over large areas completely washed away.

UN Secretary General Antonio toured Pakistan in September 2022 and visited flood victims in different places along with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to express his sympathy and solidarity with the people in distress and appealed to the international community for helping and assisting Pakistan in overcoming the challenges so posed in an effective and prompt manner in order to save the catastrophe victims from onrushing winter problems.

In continuation of the ongoing efforts for ensuring earliest rehabilitation of the flood victims, Pakistan joined hands with the United Nations in organizing a one-day International Conference on Climate Resilient at Geneva ,Switzerland.

The Geneva moot so organized on 9 January 2022 was co-chaired by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The moot at a rather at a short notice was still attended by more than 40 heads of governments and international financial institutions.

Pakistan case was again strongly and effectively presented by the Prime Minister preceded by another quite timely presentation by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari telling the moot that Pakistan needed US $ 16 billion for overcoming post-catastrophe challenges of rehabilitation and reconstruction for ensuring return of normal life in the flood affected areas of the country at the earliest possible.

The Prime Minister assured the prospective donors on the occasion that every penny contributed by them will be spent in a transparent manner allowing no wastage on any account for assisting the catastrophe victims.

The UN Secretary General again strongly pleaded for maximum help and assistance to Pakistan in its difficult times and to express much needed and deserved sympathies and solidarity with the pretty large number of flood victims.

He emphatically reiterated what he had seen with his own eyes when he had visited flood-hit people in Pakistan and called for maximum assistance to Pakistan for overcoming climate resilience challenges effectively.

The response from the heads and representatives of the governments and international financial institutions to the appeals made by the UN Secretary General and Pakistani leaders was indeed quite positive, encouraging and very much appreciable to say the least.

The international community came out strongly with pledges of more than US $ 9 billion for the rehabilitation of flood victims in the catastrophe-hit Pakistan at the earliest possible.

Pledges so announced in the Geneva moot indicating its resounding success included those by Islamic Development Bank US $ 4.2 billion, World Bank $ 2 billion, Saudi Arabia $ 01 billion, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank $ 01 billion, Asian Development Bank $ 500 million, France $ 408 million, USA $ 100 million, China $ 100 million, European Union $ 97 million, Germany $ 90.20 million, Japan $ 77 million, UK $ 43.50 million, Qatar $ 25 million, Italy $ 24.7 million, Canada $ 18.60 million, Sweden $ 7.5 million, Norway $ 6.5 million, Switzerland $ 4.30 million, Denmark $ 3.89 million, Netherlands $ 3.50 million and Azerbaijan $ 2 million.

These pledges so made by friendly countries and international financial institutions were not only their expression of solidarity and sympathy with the catastrophe victims but also their appreciable contribution towards rebuilding of Pakistan and their confidence and trust in the country’s rulers in an impressive and appreciable manner.

Quite appreciative of these pledges, the Prime Minister has justifiably thanked the international community at large and leading financial institutions.

Hopefully, these pledges will soon materialise to help Pakistan government to implement its resilient recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction framework provisions which have been prepared in close cooperation of the world partners for ensuring that large number of floods and rains-hit people were rehabilitated in their reconstructed houses and shelters as early as possible enabling them to resume their normal life once again the soonest.

—The writer is a retired Deputy Controller (News), Radio Pakistan, based in Lahore.