Why Pakistan Needs Strong Urban Flooding Management Policies? By Tahama Asad
In the event of any disaster, the Armed Forces in general and the Pak Army are contracted to carry out relief and rescue operations. Like many countries, especially developing ones, Pakistan did not have an adequate disaster preparedness mechanism, and no civilian department even bothers to dedicate its personnel to dealing with disaster relief. The deadliest natural calamity to ever hit Pakistan was the October 8, 2005, earthquake that devastated several regions of the country, launching the nation’s largest relief effort in history. This tragedy not only revealed the weaknesses of the existing system but also spurred the development of a robust and well-thought-out structure. Although the scale of the disaster was enormous, the civil administration was ill-prepared to deal with the situation.
Therefore, at that time, the government’s only choice to direct and organize the massive rescue and relief operation that was carried out after the earthquake was the Pakistan Army. The Pakistan Army has a well-established reputation for serving the people as well as discipline and honesty, in contrast to the civilian arm of the government, especially the police. The Pak Army began relief and rescue operations in earthquake-affected areas, demonstrating that no other force was capable of organizing immediate and extensive relief. That was all that mattered to most individuals trying to respond to the crisis, including a group of national and international agencies, international governments, the general public, and the international media.
Understanding the matter better
Similar to how many areas of Pakistan experience flash floods every year which result in significant loss of life and property, the Indus, Kabul and Swat rivers are three rivers at risk and due to climatic and ecological conditions, Pakistan has seen regular flooding. in recent years. The country has faced floods mainly because of its terrain. The Pakistan Army has deployed its soldiers in many locations across Pakistan amid recent disastrous floods for rescue and recovery efforts. In Pakistan, floods have caused devastation over the past five years. In these difficult circumstances, the Army has played a valuable role in helping the local community and civilian government with relief and rescue operations.
Given that Pakistan has suffered significant loss of life and property due to the worst flooding in the country’s history, the 2010 floods deserve special consideration in this regard. The “elected government” and the nation’s civil administration seemed incompetent, ineffective, and apathetic to helping the unfortunate flood victims. The Pakistani army was the first to respond to the emergency and not only gave food and medicine to the flood victims once but also evacuated and relocated them to safer locations.
The root cause of these extremely dangerous floods was India’s water war against Pakistan, which involved dumping water into rivers entering our nation. As a result, flood waters rose at an alarming rate, destroying hundreds of communities along with their livestock and crops. However, the Pakistani army was fully equipped to deal with this act of Indian terrorism. In addition to helping the government with medical needs, rescue missions, and support tasks, the army also contributed to the reduction of mass suffering through structured administration. The Army, together with the National Disaster Management Authority, has professionally qualified and well-trained troops to assist in the emergency scenario that the country currently faces.
Read more: Sherry Rehman warns of flooding in metropolises
How does the army act as a saving grace?
In addition, the Army provided great assistance to the starving residents of the Tharparker region of Sindh province. At a time when total disregard for the suffering of the people was widespread, the Pakistan Army stepped in to help those affected by the drought.
In the year 2017, 188 troops, 21 dewatering pumps and 30 boats were utilized in urban flood relief and rescue operations in Karachi. In the year 2018, 200 troops, 26 dewatering pumps and 19 boats were utilized to carry out urban flood relief and rescue operations in Lahore. Similarly, in 2020, over 4,000 persons, 100 dewatering pumps, 105 boats and aviation assets were used to rescue 10,000 individuals from Flooding in Karachi, Hyderabad, Interior Sindh, Punjab and KP. In doing so 50 shelters were established and over 75 Medical Camps were also established.
Currently, Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, has been suspended and businesses are being urged to close, as torrential rains cause deadly flash flooding and infrastructure damage, leaving at least 15 dead. For several months every summer, Pakistan struggles to contend with heavy monsoon rains, but in recent years experts say climate change is accelerating existing weather patterns. According to National Disaster Management Authority, since the monsoon season began, more than 300 people have been killed by heavy rains across Pakistan
In Karachi, the capital of Sindh province and home to almost 16 million, entire neighborhoods have been partially submerged. Photos show people wading knee-deep in muddy floodwater, with vehicles left stranded by the deluge. Infrastructure including bridges, and highways have been damaged, disrupting traffic and upending the lives of millions across the city. Many have stocked up fuel for their generators in case of power outages. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa appreciated the efforts of formations in relief operations to mitigate the challenges of people affected due to floods and heavy rainfall in the country.
The four pillars of disaster management are mitigation, preparedness, response, and rehabilitation. However, due to the widespread inefficiency in these departments, our civil administration has unfortunately been mostly ineffective in providing relief to disaster victims. As a result, the army must step up and play a key role in saving lives.
The key to successful disaster management is good governance
To generate trust among people, the quality of work by the government must be guaranteed. Every government entity must perform its obligations properly. A better-coordinated approach to mitigation and disaster preparedness would increase the country’s resilience. Effective preventive strategies would also facilitate the reaction phase of disaster management. In addition, the media should play a constructive role in highlighting the Pakistani army’s efforts to provide stability to the nation. On the one hand, the army is waging a war on terrorism, but on the other hand, it is always on hand to deal with a situation that is out of control.
The writer is a graduate of the National Defense University, Islamabad. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.
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