ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has directed the Pakistani envoys and embassies across the world to highlight the flood devastations amid economic challenges for Pakistan.
The Nation learnt that the FM issued directions to the Pakistani envoys, especially those in developed countries, to brief the respective countries about the level of damage the floods have caused.
The envoys have been told that the floods’ after-effects will be felt for years as unprecedented loss of life and property has been reported. Authorities earlier warned it could take up to six months for deadly flood waters to recede in the country’s hardest-hit areas, as fears rise over the threat posed by waterborne diseases including cholera and dengue.
The floods caused by record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in northern mountain regions have so far claimed the lives of more than 1,400 people, and affected an estimated 33 million , washing away homes, roads, railways, livestock and crops. Damages are now expected to total more than $ 30 billion - triple that of an earlier estimate of around $ 10 billion. Rising flood waters also remain a risk, especially in hard hit areas along the Indus River in Sindh province, with meteorological forecasts indicating continuous rainfall is expected to stretch through September.
In a statement this week, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said the prolonged monsoon rains will push back efforts to clear the water, with estimates ranging from 3 to 6 months in some of the worst affected areas. Both the Pakistani government and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres have blamed global climate change for worsening extreme weather that caused ‘monsoon on steroids’ and have submerged a third of the country’s land.
Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said that Karachi was seeing an outbreak of dengue as hundreds and thousands of patients were reporting daily at government and private hospitals.
“The dengue cases this year are 50 percent higher than last year. With 584,246 people in camps throughout the country, the health crisis could wreak havoc if it goes unchecked,” she added.
She warned the country was now facing the prospect of massive food shortages, owing to the destruction of up to 70 percent of staple crops such as rice and maize, and urgently needed “food, tents and medicines.”
A senior Pakistani diplomat said that the embassies abroad have been asked to convey and update the global capitals about the floods devastations, and the aid from other countries has been encouraging.
“China, US and Arab countries among others have responded well to the Pakistani calls and we hope with their help and our own commitment, we will be able to bring the affectees to safety and normal life,” he added.