Time for political ceasefire

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THE country is grappling with an unprecedented and worst ever natural calamity — magnitude of which has surpassed all previous records.

The floods of 2010 and earthquake 2005 were confined to a particular region yet this time the deluge has affected all the four provinces on a large scale, killing over one thousand people, displacing millions of others and causing extensive loss to crops, livestock, properties and infrastructure.

In tragedy of this scale, the country cannot afford further political instability and polarisation as a massive national effort is required to mitigate sufferings of affected population.

We, therefore, will suggest parties in coalition government and the PTI to rise above their political differences and work collectively in this hour of trial for the sake of people of this country.

A political ceasefire is need of the hour and beginning must be made by the government to engage with the PTI.

It is no time for point scoring or accusing each other of wrongdoings. Elections cannot be held in present circumstances when a large swathe of land is inundated and millions of people displaced.

While demonstrating flexibility, the PTI leadership should equally reciprocate by taking a step back from its demand of early elections.

The health and safety of millions of Pakistanis should take precedence over anything else. The statement of PTI Chairman Imran Khan that he will hold international telethon to raise funds for flood affected people should be welcomed.

Mr Khan has a huge following especially amongst expatriate Pakistanis and he can motivate them to come forward for help in these critical times.

At the same time Imran Khan should reconsider his decision of holding public gatherings in these tiring times.

In fact we need whole of Pakistan approach and demonstrate the spirit and unity that the country witnessed in the wake of 2005 earthquake, 2010 floods and most recently during Covid-19 pandemic.

A message should go to affected people that entire nation feels their pain and stand in solidarity with them.

While it is early to assess actual impact of floods but since calamity has destroyed crops such as cotton, rice, onions etc and is also expected to negatively impact the yield of upcoming wheat crops, hence the country, could face issue of food security in months ahead.

Alongside crops, more than five hundred thousand livestock have reportedly been perished in the floods.

This will add to burden on rural people, already reeling from higher diesel and fertiliser prices, and will lead to shortage of milk supply.

Moreover, the shortage of livestock, coupled with lumpy skin disease amongst the cattle, can also cause scarcity of meat.

Repercussions may include higher imports, compromise on exports and rising inflation. We were already faced with a dire economic situation and the natural disaster has only further complicated the situation.

Apart from showing care for relief and rehabilitation of flood victims, we will have to take correct and timely decisions to keep the economy on track.

All this requires political stability and responsibility in this regard rests with collective political leadership to demonstrate sagacity.

The media, both print and electronic, should also act responsibly. Instead of taking sides, they must focus on bringing political temperature down and instead highlight plight of flood victims.

While friendly countries are expressing solidarity and offering assistance, yet major contribution must come from within us.

Philanthropists, industrialists and overseas Pakistanis will have to come forward in a big way to rebuild lives of affected people.

Every challenge also comes with an opportunity. This calamity also carries many lessons for us. Monsoons are not new, nor are the floods.

Such things have a regular pattern. By now, we should have been ready to absorb excessive water and even use it to our benefit.

Anyway our focus must now be on building back better and develop such an infrastructure which is more resilient to disasters.

We will also suggest the government to observe a special day of prayer on Friday, seeking God Almighty’s mercy and blessings to overcome this challenge.

 

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