At times when the nation is in utter distress due to floods, political coordination for relief is indispensable. PM Shehbaz Sharif took a leap forward as he invited PTI chairman Imran Khan to join hands in providing succour to the needy. This offering of an olive branch to his political adversary, at a time when political polarisation is at its apex, is a good omen. It incidentally corresponds to the call of unison of approach that Imran underscored in his Telethon for raising funds. One hopes the coalition government at the Centre and provincial governments will sit down for a huddle to sort out how to instantly address the exigency, and take steps for rehabilitating millions of countrymen longing for food, clothing and shelter.
The destruction is one of the most lethal in Pakistan’s history. More than 35 million people are affected, and infrastructure in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh is in tatters. Balochistan is in the grip of a nightmare as its populace is shelter-less and disconnected. The UN has sent out an SOS, and it is estimated that more than $10 billion would be needed to restore normalcy. This tragedy necessitates a response that is sans politics. The generous response from the civil society, overseas Pakistanis as well as philanthropists has already shown the way for pooling of synergies, and the political leadership obviously cannot sit idle.
While Imran commands the governments of Punjab and K-P, and is leading from the front in raising funds and devising a strategy for relief and reconstruction, he should reciprocate in affirmative to the PM’s gesture. Politics can always wait. This is the time to stand with the nation in its hour of grief. Generating more funds at every level and providing relief in the form of daily essentials and housing is a gigantic task. No singular political entity or governmental machinery can do it on its own. It demands capacity building and oneness of thought to overcome this task. It’s time for the leadership to stand tall in this calamity and adopt an inclusive developmental paradigm.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2022.
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