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September 09, 2010

Pakistani Writers on the 2010 Flood in Pakistan

posted by Soniah Kamal

The summer months in Pakistan are excruciatingly hot. People look forward to the monsoons rains, a torrent of rainfall that stops falling as quickly as it starts and leaves in its wake a lower temperature which makes the next few days bearable. In other words in Pakistan the monsoon rains are welcome. This year they were no less welcome. Only once it started falling it never stopped. It went on and on and on. Week after week and month after month as July passed and August came and went and September began; it rained so much rivers overflowed and flood the land, mostly in rural, agrarian areas. Laborers watched in horror as water rose above their ankles, above their crops, above thier live stock, above the roofs of their houses, watched in horror as their meagre accumalations sank underwater-- animals, pots and pans, a change of clothes, food brought to last for days--, watched with horror as they found themselves leaving behind their ruined homes and wading, neck deep, in muddy, brown, gross water in quest of dry land their children held above thier heads. Those who managed to flee the waters and find refuge in flood relief camps now battle deadly, unclean drinking water, debilitating summer heat and the insects it brings, outbreak of disease, hunger and malnutrition, and dejection and depression. The Pakistanis hit by the floods are not those with passports or holiday homes or savings in banks. They are the desperately poor who desperately need your help in order to rebuild thier lives once the flood abates. No matter what you think and feel about Pakistan, please help these beleagured people in whichever way you can.


Daniyal Mueenudin in the New York Times:

I found most pitiful a family gathered around a prostrate brown-and-white brindled cow. The father told me that the cow had been lost in the water for four days, and the previous night it had clambered up on another section of the levee, a mile away. The people of this area recognize their cattle as easily as you or I recognize a cousin or neighbor — they sleep with their animals around them at night, and graze them all day; their animals are born and die near them. Someone passing by told the family that their cow had been found, and the father went and got it and led it to their little encampment. In the early morning the cow had collapsed, and I could see it would soon be dead. Its eyes were beginning to dull, as the owner squatted next to it, sprinkling water into its mouth, as if it were possible to revive it. Its legs were swollen from standing in water, and its chest and torso were covered with deep cuts and scrapes, sheets of raw flesh where branches rushing past must have hit it. The rest of the family sat nearby on a string bed, resigned, waiting for the end. read rest here

Mohammed Hanif for the BBC

Many Pakistanis who have not been directly affected by the floods ask each other this question: Is it a punishment from Allah? Or is He just testing our faith? One of the many religious scholars who pop up on our television screens during the holy month of Ramadan was asked the same question last week. He shook his head and answered with the kind of hokey wisdom only TV preachers are capable of: "If you have transgressed, He is punishing you. If He likes you He is testing you." Not everyone is reaching out for a divine explanation though. read rest here

Kamila Shamsie in the Guardian

So it's fitting in a perverse way that while the number of those affected by the flood climbs to 3 million, Karachi burns in retaliatory violence following a political assassination on 2 August, and families wait for the DNA identification of the victims of the 28 July air-crash near Islamabad, Pakistan's president is on his grand tour – first France, now the UK. Some in Pakistan ask why he is so far away in a time of disaster. But there is no place further away from the rest of Pakistan than the self-enclosed and self-serving world of government-dominated Islamabad. No doubt, during President Zardari's visit to the UK, pundits will weigh in on the crises in Pakistan and the term "failed state" will be bandied around, either in defence or criticism of David Cameron's "clear and frank" comments about terrorism. But in Pakistan, amid floods and ashes and yet more funerals, people live with the crushing awareness of a somewhat different formulation – not the state that has failed, but the state that fails its citizens. read rest here

Posted by Soniah Kamal at September 9, 2010 08:02 PM

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