DERA GHAZI KHAN: Last year’s floods, which affected around 20 million people across the country, weren’t a natural disaster – they were a mistake on the part of our government.
The government, in its effort to produce water, melted glaciers in the north using lasers. The experiment went awry and things got out of control, bringing forth the worst floods in the history of Pakistan.
You might dismiss the aforementioned as absurd, but this is precisely what most people ardently believe in flood-hit areas from Muzaffargarh to Rajanpur.
Though a year has passed since the floods hit and rehabilitation work is under way, locals in stricken areas still believe in conspiracy theories.
“Not just the common people but elected representatives of our areas have time and again said that lasers were used to melt glaciers and the water went out of control,” a local in Muzaffargarh, Malik Mureed, told The Express Tribune.
Mureed isn’t the only one thus convinced – almost everybody in his village thinks along the same lines and blames the government for experimenting at the cost of people’s lives.
“We can’t produce electricity even up to our installed capacity due to managerial issues but we’re efficient enough to think about melting glaciers,” quipped an electrical engineer working with Wapda while dismissing the theories making the rounds.
“Nobody knows the source of these theories but they keep circulating them,” he said.
Blaming the Pathan, the foreigners
Another theory popular in areas around DG Khan blames the floods on a Pathan from northern areas who threw his infant into boiling water. His tribe did not punish him and a jirga let him go scot-free, incurring the wrath of nature.
While fewer people buy this story, there are still hundreds who believe in it, a local journalist in DG Khan said.
Some blame the floods on foreign powers, believing that Pakistan’s ‘enemies’ threw ‘some chemicals’ on clouds through satellites, resulting in heavy showers and floods.
The theory’s proponents argue that by doing so, the ‘enemies’ succeeded in sending a lot of foreign NGO workers in Pakistan to further their interests.”
Another explanation blames the government for deliberately flooding the area around DG on the ‘desire of an influential, local political family’.
Moon’s Seraiki speech
Despite the floods being an awfully harsh time, people from the areas still recall some moments from that time they cherished.
For the people of Kot Addu, one such moment is when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the area and delivered a speech in Seraiki.
“Many people still recall his speech with great enthusiasm,” said Muhammad Azam, a resident of Kot Addu who heard the speech.
People were pleasantly shocked to find a ‘gora’ deliver a written speech in Seraiki, he said.
“He made many mistakes but nobody minded that. He was the most celebrated speaker in the flood days,” he added.
Handshake with Jolie
Locals in Muzaffargarh also recall a meeting between the then-DCO and Hollywood star Angelina Jolie who visited the area.
Locals say he shook hands with her but didn’t let go of her hand while speaking to her until another officer reminded him to let go of it.
“Many people didn’t know who Jolie was but they were surprised to see their ‘excited’ DCO who wanted to show her around himself,” a local said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2011.