Insinuating Inundations

It is strategic to saddle abstract forces with material outcomes in the aftermath of any untoward situation. The benefit reaped by absolving oneself is astronomical while the self-inflicted wounds owing to the recalcitrance portrayed in admission of incompetence is inordinately apocalyptic. Pakistan has disproportionately braved the brunt of torrential rainfalls of biblical proportions yet attempted to exonerate itself through frail substantiations. Regardless, nations which do accord requisite appreciation to their obvious and obliterated shortcomings orchestrate conditions conducive to proliferation of their resilience in face of any proceeding accident. It has been, however, substantiated by reports of World Weather Attribution that the disastrous magnitude of rainfalls in Pakistan was caused by Climate Change. Nevertheless, the ability of Pakistan to mitigate the effects of these natural events is called into question. Nature has eventuated its task of manifesting wrath but the resilience of a nation is critical to survival of its nationals.
So, the rudimentary prelude for progression of this nation stems from the confluence of strategically designed soft power and the statutorily substantiated hard power from the perceptible receptacles of jurisprudence. Moreover, it is worth underscoring that the ostensibly abrupt national incapacitation of Pakistan in face of unabated rainfalls is reprehensible outcome of decades of insouciance and disregard on the part of the state. Thus, there are multi-faceted problems germinating from the submerged national landscape which engender substantial hector and lessons for potentially consequential future. Among them are economic, demographical, international and geographical lessons and the solutions for their adequate resolution.
In the economic field, Pakistan has been battered by dwindled finances and fragility of immediate revenue generating mechanisms. The loss caused by the floods has been calibrated, according to the reports by Al-Jazeera, to stand at $40 billion which tantamount to 10th percent of Pakistan’s GDP. The hard-earned infrastructures of financially frail masses along with the national crops have been ubiquitously destructed with ensuing economic cost for Pakistan. According to National Flood Response Coordination Centre (NFRCC), destruction of crops across 8.25 million acres has exacerbated the economic situation of country in wake of the concerned rebellious floods.
This has led the country to articulate clamours for its deteriorating economic conditions globally. The scant amount of resources being injected in the National Disaster Management Authority and its provincial counterpart bears ample testimony to the fact. Resultantly the lesson to be learnt lies at the impoverished heart of the problem which is to establish vibrant financial institutions and economically cater to the existing ones which are blatantly bereft of adequate money. The inadvertent brunt of these economic costs is braved by citizens in proceeding years. To substantiate, efforts are underway by Ministry of planning to reduce Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) from Rs800 billion to Rs500 billion. In successive years, Pakistan will spend further less than its contemporarily available meagre budget amounts. This teaches lesson of how reactive actions siphons off states from their own revenues when the culpably ignored avenues of preventive and pragmatic planning’s remain out of focus for responsible authorities and citizens.
The projected Gross Domestic Product of Pakistan is estimated -by Ministry of Finance- to dwindle to 5%, the prognostication of International Monetary Fund further lowers the threshold at 3.5%. Consequently, per capital income of country also remains prone to decline which causes exorbitant concern for national economic outlook. So, the way forward lies in the proactive charting of domestic course on which the nation must tread to attain the bare minimum economic support through its (own) state exchequer in face of any cataclysmic event. Further, establishment of local bodies must be considered as regional centres of economy are not only adequately remunerative but they provide immediate resources. Along with, establishing grassroots level bodies for fund collection will cultivate trust among natives and legitimise the position of these “community assistance” centres. Consequently, masses will contribute to these people-centric bodies with alacrity and strengthen their resilience in face of any climatic disaster.
In the demographical domain, unabated population and the asymmetrical proportion of state resources paints a clarion portrayal of approaching conflagration. The problem must be attributed to the ineptitude of successive governments as receding sand of management from lubricated palms of state has caused population to be swelled at such exorbitant magnitude. The presence of hundreds of millions with little to no regulation on their migration patterns must rattle the conscience of concerned authorities. Consequently, the irretrievable loss of resources owing to rising graph of population creates concrete impediments in way of providing relief to masses. Country remains inhabited exponentially thus eclipsing the chances for further accommodation.
The lesson learned by floods against this backdrop is the imperative urgency to curtail the unfettered population explosion. Had the spiral of population abated retroactively, the statistics of victims would have been decreased. Although being cognisant of crucial revenue generated by population, the loss braved by majority of impoverished citizens in wake of flooding of 2022 forces the latter argument to weigh stronger. So, the responsibility must be shouldered by United Nations Fund for Population Activities and Pakistani authorities to robust the edifice of population control so that the loss of current proportion must be sliced in proceeding cataclysms.
In the International realm, the abstract dream of “bilateral cooperation” shattered due to the empirical realities in face of national flood assistance appeals. The false consciousness of “external saviours” diminished with the dawn of compelling evidence suggesting the blatant indifference by world in face of an inundated Pakistan. According to World Health Organization the USA has provided Pakistan with $56 Million of aid. This amount pales into glaring insignificance in face of the magnitude of disaster. Moreover, according to Voice of America China has provided $59 million of aid for floods in which $17 million are injected by Chinese Civil Society. The ceremonialism of these charities underline the indifference of countries based on their national interests.
The strategic and economic utility of any country inadvertently persuades its global counterparts to assist it in times of despair. Parenthetically, Pakistan must learn the lesson that world is tainted by its domestic concerns and any attempt to rely on foreign assistance decouples the country from prudence. Resultantly, the way forward lies in accentuating the urgency to enhance domestic productivity and strategic utility through means of technology and education. The intellectual development of a nation is harbinger of its global alliances. The nation must embark on a journey to build staunch foreign associations by capitalising on national “utility” in international arena. The concept by Henry Kissinger of “Co-evolution” must be kept as bench mark for developing regional and global alliances. The solution to epochal disasters lies within domestic enclaves of Pakistan but to generate “deliberate” assistance from foreign quarters -on the pretext of the state utility- must be the way forwards for policy makers. Nevertheless, this must not generate fragments of complacency within executive quarters. This suggestion must catalyse and stimulate foreign office in its pursuits for the eventuation of pragmatic anticipations in national interest.
In geographical landscape, Pakistan stands inexcusably ignorant as the modus operandi of public settlements is blatantly unregulated. For instance, preponderant factor in germinating cataclysm stems from the deliberate reluctance of successive governments to rein in elite encroachments on rural lands. The culpably imprudent impunity manifested in actions of these land encroachers causes hector for displaced masses and national geography The result of these contemptible and criminal activities is displayed in form of formation of millions of informal settlements which are prone to any approaching natural disaster. To establish this, according to Pakistan Slum Developers Map and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction around 12 million out of Karachi’s 16 million population resides in informal settlements. These statistics pave the way for unregulated constructions which are reprehensibly neglected owing to their unofficial status and are bereft of adequate material infrastructure. So, it goes without saying that why Karachi bore the most brunt of national floods and what lessons Pakistan needs to learn. The way forward lies in institutionalizing construction and introducing geographical manoeuvring for state subsistence. The concerned dormant authorities must awake from their strategic hibernation and proactively protect the national landscape from future cataclysms.
To encapsulate, Pakistan has accentuated its certain interests on expense of its other crucial arenas which needs to be ameliorated at breakneck pace. It is never too late albeit it is not, arguably, too early to galvanise resources and strategies to uplift the drowning nation. Pakistan has amalgamation of aforementioned repentances which are adequate to capitalise upon and build a vibrant future. Developed countries have learned from their former follies to build resilient residences and their stands no hindrance in way of Pakistan to reciprocate those strategies. So, it constitutes an impending emergency for the nation to embark on the cart of concerted efforts in an attempt to reach at the pragmatically orchestrated destination of its desires. Concomitantly, the impending opportunity of COP28 serves as a jugular vein for the country where exiguity of fiscal space and paucity of financial capital can be accentuated to salvage imprimatur from the Developed states to restructure debts and officially repudiate pecuniary obligations asphyxiating Pakistan in its developmental pursuit.

Irfan Ul Haq

The writer is a student of English Literature at FC College University.

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