Likewise last year, the monsoon flood in Pakistan has caused destruction for millions of people. According to estimation eight million people of the Sindh have been bogged down in the disaster. Their homes have been smashed; fertile land snowed under the water and essential community services such as health centers severely damaged. More than 600,000 men, women and children have now fled to relief camps, and still thousands more are camped out along roadsides facing the risk of deadly diseases from stagnant water, filled with human waste and rotten animals.
But in this titanic disaster, there has been a gloomy silence in the media when it comes to informing to the rest of the world the severity of what is happening to the people of Pakistan. The nature of “slow onset” disasters such as flooding is fighting with the people of Sindh. Without a key flash point – volcanic eruption or an earthquake– to capture the media’s attention, it is difficult to galvanize public reaction. But it is a reality that the humanitarian impact of slow moving disasters is often more broad than swift onset disasters like Tsunamis.
The true situation in Pakistan is bleak four out of five people affected by the flood in Sindh are completely dependent on agriculture, but nearly three quarters of crops and more than two thirds of food stocks have been destroyed or damaged. The growing effect of such losses is that thousands of people are on the breadline, and without immediate aid could be driven deeper into an obstinate cycle of debt and poverty. These are shocking numbers. But despite the desperateness of the condition of flood are struggling to find space in an already jam-packed news agenda.
It is fact that Pakistani media is in the race of ‘flash news stories’ despite the covering slow onset disasters on the daily basis. Unfortunately, in this season of monsoon flood the target killing, the allegations of Mike Mullen on our prominent intelligence agency, later on all parties’ conference (APC) and then power shortage agitation diverted the focus of media which is also may called a gloomy silence.
The geo-politic is also working against the people of Pakistan and Sindh. Analysts warn that Pakistan is termed as a ‘bad brand’, and there are many concerns that the government did not do enough to support affecteese of last year’s flood. But this perception should not be a cause to deliver millions of innocent Pakistanis to a spiteful fate.
The people of Sindh must not be punished for a situation that is way beyond their control. They should not be damned because their homes were destroyed by a slow-moving disaster, during a busy news cycle, in a country with a ‘bad brand’.
The international community should be asking itself that what it can do right now to avoid further loss of life and alleviate the miserable situation that common people have found themselves in. The longer we wait, the worse the impact will be; whereas quick action will help put people in a position where they can start to take control of their own recovery, and begin rebuilding their lives and livelihoods. Helping Pakistan’s flood victims, despite the difficulties, is about demonstrating our shared humanity, and reaching out to support people in their time of greatest need.