This year, the town of Dajal is celebrating Eid differently. Very differently.
“My bangles, bought by my father, were swept away in the floods,” says Aiman, a 12-year-old, expressing the hope that she can get them back with some eidi.
Aiman is not alone. She is joined by thousands of flood survivors who hope to see at least a glimmer of hope -- to attain a sense of festivity.
According to the flood victims of this municipality in Rajanpur district, a political war is under way to distribute aid, casually cloaked as eidi, to those in need, all in hope of votes for the by-elections.
A very political Eid
Almost 200,000 people have been affected by the recent torrent hill flood spells in the district, with the main constituency PP-247, formerly won by Pakistan Muslim League –Nawaz’s Shahbaz Sharif and then given to the party’s Abdul Qadir Mamdot, under the most distress.
According to sources, PML-N faces tough competition from a joint coalition of political parties. Each party is now desperately handing out relief materials, supposedly to make Eid more pleasant or the flood victims. However, conveniently, not all the victims are beneficiaries – just those that pledge loyalty to the party distributing aid.
Raja Hasan Baloch, a flood victim from Basti Dhadhla who lost his house and is still displaced, living on the side of a canal with his family, says that officials of political parties only consider those that declare allegiance to them when it comes to aid. “This ‘eidi’ is nothing more than a political game,” he scoffs.
The recent monsoon rains and subsequent floods displaced hundreds of people in different parts of Pakistan. PHOTO: OWAIS JAFRI/EXPRESS
No vote, no Eidi
“I am not a part of any political party, so I am dying of hunger and begging consistently,” says Choor Baig, 57. “If I was known to any Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) cleric of a Baloch leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), I might have been able to get the aid that is fervently being distributed right now.”
Like Baig, thousands of flood victims are marooned in south Punjab due to inefficient distribution among flood victims.
Despite being pregnant, Kundha Baloch walked 10 kilometres, to a place where the army was supposed to make a food drop. “That was the only hope for the poorest of the poor – those like me. All we wish is not to be discriminated against, especially during Eid, for our ethnicity or political affiliation,” she says ruefully. “I stood in line for four hours when Mujeebur Rehman Patwari distributed 20 deghs of cooked food, but many of them were not even for the flood victims in Dajal. Someone told me afterwards that he was supposed to distribute 50! This is the kind of distribution here.”
Where’s the government?
Even though flood victims point their fingers at political parties and their campaigning, Dr Abdul Shakoor Mujahid, chief of JI Rajanpur, says it is the government that has been inefficient.
“JI is the largest religious organisation in flood-hit areas of southern Punjab and Balochistan. The government is not doing enough,” he states emphatically.
Aqeelur Rehman, a poor farmer who lost all his land to the floods, doesn’t have anything to say, except a sentence that seems to sum it all: “This is not Eidi for flood victims, this is not aid. This is simply a quest for votes.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2013.
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