Floods Devastate a South Asian Country

An increasingly restless earth is producing climate anomalies in distant regions.  Europe has just emerged from a severe drought only to be flooded by heavy rains.  Pakistan, too, has been inundated, and as the poor possess fewer resources their suffering is worse.  Its province of Balochistan is one example. 

According to Pakistan’s environment minister, Sherry Rehman, the monsoon season affects the region usually in three or four waves bringing in much needed rain.  This year they have already had eight waves and severe flooding is the result.  Bridges have been washed out leaving many people stranded away from their homes.  These, which are often constructed of mud, have not been spared. 

Aid is difficult to provide quickly when many roads and bridges have become unusable.  As often happens, the army has been called in and also the navy as the area has become a virtual inland sea.  Also in a relatively sparsely populated region the problem of reaching everyone in need quickly is understandable.

Ths catastrophe is being called the country’s worst natural disaster on record.  The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) estimates that 287,412 homes have been completely destroyed and another 662,446 partially destroyed.  The death toll has surpassed 1000, and the NDMA estimates that 1 in 7 of the population or 33 million people have been affected. 

In addition, the floods have covered millions of acres of farmland inundating the crop fields and adding to the losses of flood victims — the tragedy is the crops were ready for harvest.  The inevitable consequence is soaring prices across the country.  

Cumulative infrastructure data since mid-June shows 3451km (2000 miles approximately) of roads damaged or washed away and 149 collapsed bridges leaving a colossal task of repair and restoration. 

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, is familiar with power plays and counterplays but is no doubt shocked at Pakistan’s neighbor India — right next door and so far immune to Pakistan’s calls for international help when a third of the country is under water.

Guterres has called it “a monsoon on steroids” and launched a $160 million appeal in aid of those affected by the disaster.  He has also drawn attention to global warming:  “Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change.  Today, it’s Pakistan; tomorrow it could be your country.”  His UN appeal would supply 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation, and continuing emergency education and health support.

Meanwhile the monsoon is set to continue according to the latest weather reports.  If ‘hell or high water’ is an expression intended to express extreme difficulties, a poor South Asian country is suffering both and needs our help.

Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan is a former Professor based in the US. Educated at King's College London, OSU and The University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. Thus he headed the analysis of an innovation survey of Norway, and his work on SMEs published in major journals has been widely cited. He has for several decades also written for the press: These articles and occasional comments have appeared in print media such as The Dallas Morning News, Dawn (Pakistan), The Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Monitor, The Wall Street Journal and others. On the internet, he has written for Antiwar.com, Asia Times, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, Eurasia Review and Modern Diplomacy among many. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in its Congressional Record.