EDITORIAL: Rattled by the epic enormity of the too enormous challenge the havoc torrential rains and flash floods have posed to an already beleaguered and battered economy of Pakistan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Gueterres has rightly called for “massive” international support while visiting the country yesterday: “I call on the international community that Pakistan needs massive financial support, as according to initial estimates the losses are around $30 billion. It is essential for the international community to realize this, especially the countries who have contributed more to climate change.”
A couple of week ago, the UN Secretary General had issued a flash appeal for $160 million as he had estimated that 5.2 million were affected and needed food, water, sanitation, emergency education and health protection. But that is no more the case – more than 33 million in Pakistan have been adversely affected by flooding.
Hopefully, his visit would help him to revise his estimate of losses as the government has estimated flood-related damage at $30 billion and he may also weigh in with the international financial institutions to reset their terms of loan deals with Islamabad.
Of course a large number of countries have come forward with relief consignments, reflective as these are of their love for people of Pakistan and their awareness that the genie of global warming and climate change is finally out of the bottle. If Pakistan is its casualty today tomorrow it may be its near neighbour or distant friend.
Indeed, quite caring and helpful are many world governments and international organizations and they are reaching out to people of Pakistan with much-needed relief. But ultimately it is Pakistan itself that is expected to help restore normality of life and work in the devastated areas on its own. It is a long haul errand, but an inescapable responsibility of the present government.
It is a challenge that can only be squarely met by a united action - and not by going alone as presently seems to be case. The foregoing gives birth to a pertinent question. Will the international community, which is collectively responsible for this quicker than estimated climate change timeframe, help Pakistan recover, emotionally and financially, from the aftermath of this flooding? Unfortunately, however, this question has no easy answer, although the visiting head of the UN deserves praise for his empathy with the flood-affected people of Pakistan.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022