The people of Thatta have joined others in Muzaffargarh, Jacobabad, Shahdadkot and other cities, leaving homes with only the most basic possessions. Many wonder what kind of havoc they will return to. Several canal breaches have meant flood waters that continue to roar down the Indus are moving towards the city of 300,000 people. Around 70 per cent of the population is stated to have already left, as have another 500,000 from settlements around the area. Plans are now on to evacuate those who remain. There is confusion and political turmoil over why warnings were not issued earlier. Because of this failure we once more see desperate people heading away on donkey carts, on tractor trolleys or on foot. Many have no idea where to go. The dismal state of camps means their destination is unlikely to be a pleasant one even if they are able to reach shelter put up by authorities. Political figures from the area have been attempting to alleviate suffering. Helicopters have been sought to try and lift people away. The concern of these politicians is understandable. MPAs are displeased about the chaos that has surrounded the evacuation of Thatta. But perhaps in a situation of the kind we now face there is a need to develop a national vision. Political leaders need to sit together and consider how best to manage the formidable task of rehabilitating all flood-hit people rather than focussing chiefly on just their own constituencies. Joint planning can indeed help prevent some of the suffering we see.
There is no doubt that it will take months and years before there can be any return to normalcy. Too many cities, towns and villages have been affected. Others, even now, remain at risk. Only a united plan of action can prevent further pandemonium and help assure people that everything possible is being done to care for their needs and to address their concerns.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2010.
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