Monday, August 23, 2010

Credibility Crisis in Natural Disaster

Cholera, typhoid, paratyphoid, dysentery, diarrhea, weil’s disease (leptospirosis) have surfaced among survivors and aid workers warn that the waterborne disease could add to the death toll of about 2000 people if allowed to spread. Mostly children in relief camps are in precarious conditions due to acute shortage of drinkable water. There were reports that Sindhi feudal lords influenced the local authorities and managed to break dams from the angles and places , which might save their own crops. A tussle between former Prime Minsiter Mir Zafar Ullah Jamali and present Federal Minister Mir Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani erupted on breaking a dam , the former PM castigated serious allegations on the latter.
A fresh surge of floodwater swelled the Indus River near Kotri Barrage, threatening previously spared cities and towns in the south.

The crisis has battered Pakistan's economy and undermined its political stability at a time when the United States and NATO need its steadfast cooperation against Islamist extremism. The U.N. has appealed for an initial $500 million to provide relief to Pakistan but has said the country will need billions to rebuild once the floodwaters recede. Ban KI MOON’s low key visit to flood-devastated areas, did not spark off the relief activities at the behest of international community .

The United States has so far donated the most to the relief effort, at least $100 million, and has sent military helicopters to rescue stranded people and drop off food and water. Washington hopes the assistance will help improve its image in the country — however marginally — as it seeks its support in the battle against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.
"So far, if anyone has practically given us maximum help, it is America," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Saturday when a Pakistani reporter suggested the U.S. has done little since the crisis started. Operating in partnership with the Pakistan military, the U.S. aircraft have since Aug. 5 rescued more than 3,500 people and transported more than 412,000 pounds (186,000 kilograms) of emergency supplies, the State Department said.
Cholera can lead to severe dehydration and death without prompt treatment, and containing cholera outbreaks is considered a high priority following floods.

The Pakistani crisis began in late July, when unusually heavy monsoon rains tore through the country from its mountainous northwest. Hundreds of thousands of homes have been destroyed. Agriculture has been severely hit, with an estimated 1.7 million acres (nearly 700,000 hectares) of farmland wiped out. It is reported that Pakistan suffered 400 Billion rupees loss , though exact figures will be estimated after the end of catastrophic floods.

There is a serious trust deficit between government of Pakistan and international community, which attracted heated correspondence between European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and French President. EU president underscored in a letter to Sarkozy that Brussels was “the first to react” on July 30 by providing aid to Pakistan, which totals 40 million euros (51.5 million dollars).“But beyond the 40 million euros which you mentioned, my services have worked tirelessly in order to ensure that this money is spent on the ground as quickly as possible,” Barroso wrote.

The commission chief said his team was once more “demonstrating its professionalism and efficiency in responding to great humanitarian crises.”In a letter to Barroso on Sunday, Sarkozy said Brussels should “do more”than what had been offered so far.
“I count on you for the EU to show its unity and determination,” the French president wrote. Sarkozy said France would soon make proposals to the EU in order to give the 27-nation bloc a “reaction capacity for this type of crisis.”But Barroso noted that he has already begun an “action plan” aimed at ensuring “the best possible mobilisation and coherence” of aid. Humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva will “very soon” propose new policies for the EU's response to crises abroad, he said. Barroso also said that Pakistan would likely need more aid and that the EU would decide how much more to provide before the end of August.

Torrential monsoon rain triggered catastrophic floods which have affected a fifth of Pakistan, wiping out villages, rich farm land, infrastructure and killing an estimated 2000 people in the nation's worst natural disaster. The willingness among Germans to donate to aid organisations helping the victims of Pakistan’s devastating floods has slowly begun to grow after a sluggish start, the German Red Cross (DRK). As the disaster began unfolding in late July, Germans were hesitant to contribute at first. But as the situation there becomes more desperate, there is increased motivation to help the flood victims, DRK president Rudolf Seiters told daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung.

There is an acute credibility crisis on Pakistani government’s part, as far as the distribution of donations and funds for affected people of Floods in Pakistan . The matter was earlier reported in the press that during earthquake of 2005, more than 80000 people were killed in the tragedy . The world community donated generously. I was spokesman/member of Action Committee of Margalla Towers Residents Committee; Tower was destroyed and more than 80 residents were killed in the quake . We fought the a legal and administrative fight in the streets and in the Supreme Court for three years, during these years many world leaders visited ill-fated Towers and announced aid for help and rehabilitation- that aid was also meant for wretched people of Kashmir. A department ERRA (ERRA : Earthquake Reconstruction & Rehabilitation Authority ( was established and Billions of Pakistani rupees were deposited by World Community to ERRA through Pak Government.

It was believed that with such money, the whole Kashmir and Margalla Towers would be re-built on new Building Codes, as Chief Justice, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary ordered to the previous government (President Musharaf and PM Shoukat Aziz) in our case of Margalla Towers Tragedy. The affected people of Kashmir areas are still staging demonstration against the governments (previous and present) that there is only 5 % rehabilitation work has been done. Reportedly, Zardari Government decided to take 600 bn Pak rupees, out of 900 Bn rupees from ERRA’s account to some other unknown projects. In the eyes of some political observers, it is a glaring example of mal-practice in the rehabilitation process, which was started almost 4 and half years ago.

In the present circumstances, the Zardari government is accused of massive corruption and misappropriation of the funds. The fellow citizens and international Community did not repose confidence to donate directly to Pakistani government’s exchequer, which slowed down the rescue and relief operations in Flood affected areas. The most undesirable visit of President Zardari to France and UK added fuel to the injury to the already frustrated people of Pakistan, while overseas Pakistani protested outside the edifice in UK, where Zardari stayed. Even he was humiliated by a “ shoe throwing’ incident in his PPPP party meeting at London; which was widely reported by vibrant Pakistani Media, attracted the wrath of the government to shut down major TV Channels and setting ablaze the newspapers, mostly in interior Sindh?

The opposition leader , Mr Nawaz Sharif ( Former two time Prime Minister of Pakistan), decided to join hands with the government , with the desire to establish an independent Flood Relief Commission to dispel , severe national and international criticism of alleged mistrust on Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif and PM Yusuf Raza Gillani held a mutual press conference and announced a joint strategy for proposed Commission. They also announced few names, as members for the said Commission, which included, some very respectable former judges of superior courts, which include, Rana Bhagwandas, Fakhruddin G Ibrahim and Nasir Zahid.. After five days , Zardari Government turned down the proposed commission, without any justification and plausible reasons. The sudden U-turn of the government aroused the suspicions that the members of the proposed Independent Flood Commission may not tilt to their political whims or PPPP government will have no access to the money to ‘utilize’ for some other purposes.. Not only Germany but other countries of Europe, USA and even Islamic countries are reluctant to donate generously as orchestrated in the previous times of Natural calamities.

However Journalists For International Peace appealed to Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General UNO, and other world leaders to come forward and establish a bridge to assist the Flood affected people directly. JIP proposed that there must be a robust infrastructure of NGOs of respective countries with the support of local field experts and volunteers, having own monitoring system of funds’ utilization in the relief and rehabilitation process. In this regard the wretched people will get direct access to the funds meant for them in the shape of medicine, food and re-building of infrastructure. The proposal contains that it will also attract indigenous employment opportunities for the locals under administrative control of the NGOs of the respected countries. As far the aid of international donations and funds are concerned – it is the same red-tapism of alleged corrupt bureaucracy, which still did not distribute the donations/funds to the affected people of Earthquake 2005. The hue and cry of the affected people are quite obvious and natural. At present Media of Pakistan and some saner elements, TV Channels and few political representatives have started campaigns at their own, which is picking up the momentum. However, the role of Pakistan Army, in the rescue and relief operations, is considered as marvelous.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

More Statesmanship Lessons for David Cameron

The Childish and irresponsible statement spark off a new debate that British office of Prime Minister is rapidly deteriorated in terms of handling the foreign policy towards major issues like that of Terrorism and its possible remedy . British government realized this fact, now very well, that pseudo ‘War on Terror’ attracted public wrath and discontentment, which damaged the very fabric of the multi-cultural society. The death of four British servicemen in Afghanistan at the weekend takes the toll of UK troops in the war against terror past 500.

There is a growing frustration in British Society due to the killings of British soldiers in Afghanistan, as Allied Forces are losing the ground , exposing an imminent defeat is in the offing. ‘Military Families Against The War’ is an organisation comprised of the families of the soldiers, who foresee a major set-back to the strategic interests in the continuation of the War in Afghanistan, besides massive causalities. The organization has already filed a petition with the British government against the war and amassing public support in the favor of its objective, ‘ To bring Troops Home’. The petition orchestrates, “Noting the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, and the destabilisation of Pakistan arising from the NATO military intervention in the region and believing that only the Afghan people themselves can generate a political solution to their country’s problems, therefore demand that the government commence the withdrawal of all British military forces from Afghanistan.”

David Cameron is apparently continued to follow the conspiracy theory of the ‘sponsored’ WikiLeaks War Logs .The independent political analysts believe that he is made victim in getting maximum ‘output’ from Britain . He offended Islamabad with comments made on Wednesday in India. Speaking to an audience in the city of Bangalore, Cameron said: "We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is … able, in any way, to promote the export of terror whether to India, whether to Afghanistan or to anywhere else in the world."

Cameron later told the BBC that he had chosen his words carefully. "It is unacceptable for anything to happen within Pakistan that is supporting terrorism elsewhere," he said, adding: "It is well-documented that that has been the case in the past, and we have to make sure that the Pakistan authorities are not looking two ways. They must only look one way, and that is to a democratic and stable Pakistan." Earlier, Cameron was also accused of his ‘plain speaking’, during his recent tour to Turkey.

Reacting to Cameron’s statement, former British foreign Secretary, David Miliband has criticized Prime Minister David Cameron, accusing him of being a "cuttlefish squirting out ink" over his remarks about Pakistan's record on terrorism.
"Cameron has used the past two weeks to make a verbal splash on foreign policy. Like a cuttlefish squirting out ink, his words were copious and created a mess. The cancellation by the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, of a security meeting with our services shows that, in foreign policy, words can be our most powerful tool," Miliband wrote in an article for The Independent. "But the Prime Minister's have been destructive. The mindsets in Israel, Pakistan and Britain have all been given the once-over. But making a splash is not the same as making a difference." "Cameron either has a loose tongue - his comments about Gaza, terrorism and the Second World War were made off the cuff at press conferences or in interviews - or he is desperate for headlines. Neither is encouraging," he added.

Pakistani foreign office spokesperson maintained that one could never draw right conclusions from baseless and skewed reports. The spokesperson also asked journalists to abstain from highlighting such baseless reports. “I would say that it is important that we do not create unnecessary hype around these reports and get distracted. The world knows very well how Pakistan is contributing in the ongoing fight against terrorism and we will continue doing that because it is also in our interest”.When asked to comment on Pakistan’s double standard as it was seeking a clarification from Afghanistan against Karzai’s remarks but not from Cameron for his remarks, the spokesperson replied there were no double standards. “We have seen remarks made by the British Prime Minister and we see the context in the sense that those were based on WikiLeaks reports. Hence, we have expressed our sadness over these remarks, which have been made in India. As far as the reported remarks by President Karzai and the earlier remarks by Spanta are concerned, we found these incomprehensible given the fact that we all know well that during the last two years Pakistan and Afghanistan have been cooperating very closely with each other against terrorism and we do not see any reason as to why these remarks should have been made”, he said.

Pakistani Intelligence Chief , Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, cancelled his visit to Britain in lieu of the present ‘ situation’. The cancellation of the visit of ISI chief, who was supposed to have meetings with his counterparts in MI-5 and MI-6, is another setback for the ‘security planning’ opportunity for British Defense intelligentsia.

Cameron’s controversial statement is surfaced, just days after the publication of leaked U.S. military documents relating to the war in Afghanistan on the Internet platform WikiLeaks and in three media outlets, including Spiegel. According to the so-called war logs, the U.S. suspects that Pakistan is providing terrorists with a haven and that the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI is training insurgents and supplying them with weapons. According to one memo, the ISI was even involved in a plot to assassinate the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

His words have created a stir in the Pakistani society , a country that is officially Britain's ally in the war on terror and lost more than 30 thousand Pakistani civilians and armed forces personnel have been killed or injured since the global war on terror began in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, while over 17,000 terrorists have been killed or captured. According to data released by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in Feb 2010, from 9/11 till now, 30,452 people have been killed or injured. These include 21,672 civilians and 8,785 military personnel.

The co-chairperson of Britain’s ruling Conservative party, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, visited Pakistan recently called on President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in Islamabad and discussed a host of issues, particularly bilateral relations and Islamabad’s role in fighting terrorism. During her visit, both Islamabad and Pakistani-born British national found similarities in their views that terrorism is the common enemy for both Pakistan and Britain and that cooperation between the two countries must continue to fight the war against this scourge. Sayeeda Warsi realized the sufferings of Pakistan in fighting militancy. Sayeeda Warsi and the British high commissioner appreciated Islamabad’s efforts against militancy and reiterated their country’s support to the democratic government in Pakistan in fighting militancy. The present statement of Cameron is not a policy shift towards Pakistan, as Britain realized this fact , in the losing war of Afghanistan , Pakistan is the only state in the region which can be helpful in an ‘ honorable retreat’ from the region.

Britain is confronting with growing extremism and fanaticism, prevailing in British youth especially after 9/11 and 7/7 incidents of terrorism. The British intelligence agencies are exercising a constant vigil on ‘ suspects’, even on the price of curtailing ‘ Civil Liberties’. The British society is robustly influenced by the Islamic culture, which is the prominent part of British Multi Culture, atleast after three generations. The Muslim immigrants are mostly migrated from Pakistan and they have developed a bridge between Pakistan and UK. There participation in local politics and in both houses, is quite obvious.

In the present circumstances and scenario, Pakistani communities can play a very vital role in reducing the indigenous reactionary wave of extremism in British youth . The interfaith dialogues , though on equal footings , between Pakistani and British societies can pay a positive dividend for the progress of peaceful and sustainable atmosphere, especially in Britain. In the present circumstances , the visit of president Asif Ali Zardari, is predicted to be a ineffective , it will further be criticized, if media may continue to focus on lavish expenditures from public expense on a large entourage.