The Sharif duo, Nawaz and Shahbaz, have joined the politicians making a bee-line for Hunza. Their visit comes days after the prime minister had visited the village of Altit to call on the 1,300 displaced people housed there and assess their situation. We must hope that the motives of Nawaz and Shahbaz were completely philanthropic. The Punjab chief minister announced Rs 100 million as aid for affected people. Any contribution that can help the 20,000 or so people hit by the flooding must be welcomed. They are desperately in need of help, with larger humanitarian agencies only now moving in to offer relief, following a call by the National Disaster Management Authority.
But for all the goodwill expressed, one cannot help but suspect there is an element of political point- scoring behind the sudden trip by the PML-N chief and his brother and the speeches made there. The trip was scheduled immediately after about 400 people in Altit staged a protest hours after the prime minister’s visit, demanding the announcement of a relief package. The protest was called off after official assurances on this count. It is interesting that the Sharifs directed attention the way of the calamity-hit people only after this event, vociferously demanding that more be done for them. The protest in Altit is inevitable given the sudden crisis faced by people but there are limitations to what authorities can do. After all, the efforts made after the January landslide – to ward off catastrophe and re-open the portion of the Karakorum Highway that remains blocked – failed despite all out efforts by the Frontier Works Organisation. To capitalise on this situation is not entirely kosher. It is important that parties work together and put their plight ahead of any attempt to gain political ground or draw benefit from a situation that has so tragically ruined thousands of lives.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 26th, 2010.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ