Pakistan was hit by the most severe floods and rains due to the unprecedented melting of snow and clouds bursting due to excessive heat. This has left more than 33 million people in most parts of the country in a fully deprived states as their houses were either fully damaged or washed away. About 1800 men, women and children lost their lives as well, standing crops in the area were swept away along with infrastructure, and facilities of varying kinds. Federal and provincial governments utilised all their available resources for rescuing the flood and rain-hit people as quickly as possible with the active cooperation of the armed forces who shifted them to safer places wherever feasible without wasting much time. Planes full of relief goods, medicines and food items were sent from friendly countries and international organisations started arriving and landing at Islamabad and Karachi in response to Pakistan’s appeal for help. Initial rescue operations of flood and rain hit people have been completed more or less; now top priority is being to the victims’ rehabilitation and reconstruction of their uprooted houses and other infrastructures. UN Secretary, General Antonio Guterres, visited Pakistan in September 2022, flew over the floods hit areas along with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and met the affected people. He also appealed to the international community for continuing providing relief to the maximum extent possible to help Pakistan in rescuing and rehabilitation of the millions of people. Pakistan’s government joined hands with the United Nations in organising an international conference in Geneva so that a maximum number of friendly countries, international organisations and financial institutions could gather there at the highest level, listen to top Pakistani leaders presenting their immediate case for international help and cooperation and pledge their help and assistance for the affected people of Pakistan. Accordingly, an International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan was held in Geneva on January 9, 2023 which was co-chaired by Antonio Guterres and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and was attended by more than 40 heads of governments, international organisations and financial institutions. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif presented Pakistan’s case and stated that considering the gigantic task of resilient recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction of 33 million flood-affected people. Pakistan was looking towards the global support to generate $8 billion for meeting the immediate impending challenges. He also said that his country had worked out a comprehensive framework over Pakistan’s resilient, recovery and reconstruction efforts in consultations with the friendly countries and global partners with a robust financial mechanism. He thanked the UN, UNDP, World Bank and other financial institutions and friendly countries for their support and assistance to the flood victims. Pakistan’s government has already spent $400 million on providing support to 2.7 million households whereas another amount of $575 million was spent in providing assistance to the flood hit people in cash and kind. Availing the opportunity, the PM reiterated that every penny provided by the international community will be utilised and spent in a transparent manner ensuring no wastage of any kind whatsoever. The UN Secretary General recalled his visit to flood hit areas in Pakistan, highlighted their plight and pleaded for early assistance and help to Pakistan in combatting post-floods and rains catastrophe challenges. He said Pakistan was worst victim of climate change and if not helped, then other countries can also face climate change challenges tomorrow. He said Pakistan also has to repay its secured foreign loans and can also be helped this by softening terms for repayment. Pakistan secured over $10 billion in pledges at the international Conference on Climate Resilience in Geneva. While sincerely appreciating all these pledges made by friendly countries and financial institutions, it is genuinely hoped that all these pledges will not just remain for some short or long time and will be donated to the government as millions of flood-devastated Pakistanis were keenly looking towards these pledges taking practical shape.
Muhammad Zahid Rifat
The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News), Radio Pakistan, Islamabad and can be reached at zahidriffat@ gmail.com