SWAT: The government has been under fire for its “slow response” to the flood tragedy, with opposition parties saying that the government has failed to provide relief to hundreds of thousands of people affected by the worst disaster in the country’s living history.
“President Asif Zardari and ANP chief Asfandyar Wali are busy holidaying while hundreds of thousands of people are suffering in the country,” said Engineer Amir Muqam, the chief of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chapter of the Q-League. “The central government as well as the ANP-led government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have failed to respond to the disaster,” he told journalists in Mingora. He alleged that the government was not utilising international aid for alleviating sufferings of flood survivors. “The corrupt and incompetent rulers have failed to restore electricity supply to the districts of Swat and Shangla, where no relief activities have been started thus far,” he alleged.
Muqam said Asfandyar Wali has not bothered to visit the flood-hit areas in his own province while President Zardari was holidaying in Europe. “I demand on behalf of flood survivors in Swat and Shangla to spend millions of dollars being received from foreign countries, in the affected areas of the country,” he said.
However, Muqam lavishly praised the Pakistan Army which, he said, was doing a commendable job in the flood-hit areas.
On the other hand, the government seems to have swung into action, though a little late. Provincial minister for forest and environment, Wajid Ali Khan, has issued a stern warning to government officials for showing slackness in relief activities. “The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) should transfer its entire machinery to Swat district in order to divert rivers from the populated areas,” he demanded. He said the government would extend all possible help to the people of Swat and they would not be left alone in this hour of need.
The PDMA says that the provincial government has released Rs150 million to the Pakistan Army for the reconstruction of infrastructure in Swat. “Makeshift bridges and roads will be constructed on a priority basis to restore links with the rest of the country,” Azam Khan, the director-general of the PDMA, told a news conference. The Army has recued dozens of tourists stranded in Kalam. And the remaining are to be airlifted through helicopters. Khan promised that power supply would be restored in Mingora within 15 days.
Meanwhile, provincial minister for science and technology Ayub Asharey appealed to political parties, civil society and philanthropists to come forward and take part in relief activities. “This is not the time to indulge in politics, every segment of society must play its role.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2010.
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