It is apparent that even the devastating floods, whose losses continue to mount, have failed to lower the political temperature that has been continually rising. Despite harrowing images of destroyed communities, stranded families and submerged countryside, the political landscape continues to bicker and divide. When floods have to compete for primetime with political court-proceedings, it is perhaps a sad testament to the state of affairs in this country of late.
It’s like a tale of two countries. While one part of the country is desperately seeking food, shelter, medicine and other emergency supplies survive under the sun and stave off viral and water-borne diseases, the other part of the country (mostly the political class and their diehard followers) in the major cities is either organizing political rallies or responding to daily court proceedings. It’s as if these floods came in another country, without any consequences for this one.
This highly-partisan atmosphere does no good to the urgent need to rally behind the government’s humanitarian response. The ongoing political circus also undermines the government’s appeal to international partners for relief and rehabilitation. Already, the global response has been less robust than initially expected. Maybe it will change over the coming days and weeks, let’s wait and see.
Bad things have been piling up for Pakistan, and it is about time that the political class and the powers that be arrest this rising tide of instability. Around this time last year, it was the macroeconomic instability that had started to threaten economic recovery after Covid-19. Come March-April, the political instability reached new heights due to the no-confidence vote, further exacerbating economic crisis.
And in August, barely when Pakistan was able to get a modicum of economic stability with the IMF deal, the floods broke the economic spirit. The federal and provincial governments are woefully unable to cope with floods on their own.Now in September, Pakistan faces a deadly trio of macroeconomic uncertainty, political instability and a full-blown natural disaster. The only thing that can be brought under control in this situation is the political infighting – some unity at this stage can help with the other two crises as well.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of bringing together and sitting down all the political parties for a national flood response is low at the moment – who is able to pull off this feat? As the former PM Khan’s demands for early elections are unlikely to be met due to the ‘timeline’ issues, his political rhetoric may only harden and aggravate. In response, the legal noose that is out for him is likely to tighten further. Therefore, the prospects of a political compromise, a middle ground of sorts, appear increasingly dim at the moment.