The Politics of Natural Disasters Occurring in Pakistan

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The power structure of Pakistan is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. We are fortunate enough to have all four seasons and the lowest and highest altitude regions. Although this fact is a fortune in itself, our country’s disaster management fails to compensate for the seasonal disasters that take place every year.

Our mountainous areas experience flash floods almost every year due to the steep terrains. The southern areas on the other hand experience urban flooding due to a lack of drainage systems. But each time such a natural disaster takes place, the political governance of Pakistan bears the toll.

Let’s look back at some of the floods that caused a political disturbance in Pakistan.

The heavy rainfall of July 1977 killed over 350 people due to urban flooding in Karachi. Up to 8 inches of water descended on the city. As of march that year, ‘Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had won the elections. But in July, together with the flooding, the political riots, and economic loss, Bhutto was taken down by the armed forces and Martial Law was declared.

Years later, the situation has not improved so much. For the past 5 decades, Karachi is still experiencing one of the worst cases of urban flooding and the opposition is too caught up in the blame game to actually solve the issue. And not only Karachi, but areas of KPK and Chitral have seen one of the worst floods in the history of Pakistan. Many small cities along the river beds in the Sindh and Punjab provinces face flooding almost every year but the Capital city of Islamabad is not safe from the spell of floods either.

But do we get to learn from history? Bhutto was taken down with the help of the opposition that blamed him for the vulnerable economic situation, following the floods of the 1970s. Years later, the Zardari Clan, the Sheriffs, and the Niazi are all busy blaming one another for failing the system in the recent decade. 

The fragility of our democratic system is reflected through the destructive floods occurring throughout Pakistan as prime farmland gets destroyed and thousands are displaced. While billions are allocated in funds for the restoration projects, we hardly see any improvement in infrastructure. The only thing we do see is the never-ending catfights of the opposition.

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Komal Ayaz
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