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As Pakistan drowns, its leaders fight

If the Pakistani leadership wants to be sincere to its people, it should try and win back lost credibility by putting aside petty differences and uniting to save the country.

Last modified: 1 Sep 2010 13:22
Photo by Reuters

After a month of extensive flooding in Pakistan's Indus river, the waters are finally pouring into the Arabian Sea.

The fury of the floods has inundated almost one-fifth of the country's agricultural land, destroying crops orchards and sweeping away livestock. In the end, it displaced almost 20 million people and destroyed irrigation systems, schools, hospitals, wiped out entire villages and destroyed more than a thousand bridges.

All in all, the government now estimates the total losses from the devastating floods to be around $43bn. Just a few years ago the government also estimated the losses incurred from the ongoing alliance in the so-called War on Terror, which is said to be around $35bn.

Add the two and you get a figure of $78bn - something the Pakistani leadership will have to bear in mind.

Already the country's external debt is said to be a staggering $53bn on which the country is paying back $3bn annually for debt-servicing, putting an extra burden on the already faltering economy. The question is what happens next?

Calls for revolution

At least one self-exiled political leader, Altaf Hussain of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM), thought the time was rife for a revolution. He has already told the peasants who have lost everything to occupy the homes and estates of the feudal, whom he says control this country and hold sway over parliament, the bureaucracy and the military.

Hussain even asked the patriotic generals to bring the feudal landlords to book and hold them accountable. The message was enough for the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) party to move a point of order in the National Assembly against the MQM.

The message also fueled a ferocious debate on private TV networks in which political figures from various parties and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party fought verbal bouts in front of a bewildered nation that was already dreading the tough times ahead because of the worst floods in living memory.

Forgotten was the plight of the poor people who were now planning to return to their destroyed farms and villages as the waters gradually started to retreat.

Target killings persist

The floods did nothing to stop the target killings in Karachi, which continue unabated and where two political rivals - the Awami National Party (ANP) and the MQM - are fighting what is now dubbed as a turf war for control of Pakistan's economic jugular and its major port city, also the financial hub of Pakistan.

Ironically, the nationalists are keeping a low profile in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, previously known as the Northwest Frontier Province (where they are in power) after angry locals complained that political leadership failed to come to the rescue of the ordinary citizens and warned them of dire consequences.

Sadly even now it appears that neither the government nor other political parties are able to concentrate on relief to the victims of the flood.

Even though they were more than generous to offer advice to the people to start a bloody revolution, they had no idea that the people were perhaps contemplating holding their political leadership responsible for their plight.

If the Pakistani leadership wants to be sincere to the people, it should try and win back lost credibility by putting aside petty differences and uniting to save the country.

If leaders fail now they will have to prepare to face the wrath of 180 million people; and though the idea may be coming from some political circles that the country is ready for a revolution, those leaders would not be the benefactors.