Some 21 million people across Pakistan were affected by the massive flooding in July and August 2010 following the annual monsoon rains. Approximately one-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area was underwater. It was awful that in many areas flood affected religious minorities, including Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis and Sikhs, were discriminated by the government in aid delivery, relief and rehabilitation.
The government figures say, “Floodwaters destroyed 8.9 million acres of agricultural land and killed 7.2 million farm animals.” About 1,000 children were missing. Across Pakistan, nearly 2m houses had been damaged or destroyed. Over 5,000km of roads and 7,000 schools had been affected. A fifth of Punjab province’s cotton and cane crops were destroyed. The damage is around $43 billion, a quarter of the country’s GDP. According to the World Bank, need assessment of a minimum of $6.799 billion was mandatory for reconstruction/repair of the respective sectors. To date the UN flood appeal is only 50% funded. Pope Benedict XVI also appealed for the people affected by flood and said that they are very close to his heart.
Millions of people are still homeless and struggling to restart their lives, Sarfraz Clement, a Christian social worker told Minorities Concern of Pakistan. Despite helping people, Pakistan is still spending a huge amount on defence and other non-development sectors. In September 2010, the defence budget had been quietly hiked by an astonishing 25 per cent, from the budgeted figure of Rs442bn to over Rs550bn. By one estimate the armed forces lay claim to a third of Pakistan’s budget. Ironically, few months before flood, Pakistan bought 3 F-16 fighter jets for $1.4 Billion.
Junaid Khanzada, a Muslim journalist in Hyderabad, said that some government officials and Islamic fundamentalist organizations deliberately ignore the needs of Hindus in Sindh province. People at a roadside camp near Makli, Thatta, are reluctant to give up their prejudices and not even share water with members of the Hindu community while sharing the same camp. Muslims do not drink water from the same water tank as they claimed it is impure. While other displaced people can get cooked food from the government and NGOs, Hindus cannot.
Thousands of displaced Christian and Hindu families being completely abandoned by the government, according to Christian organisations who have been working in flood affected areas. It has been reported that members of Ahmadiyya community in Muzaffargarh were not rescued from their homes because rescuers felt that Muslims must be given priority. Members of the Sikh community, who arrived at gurdwaras in Lahore, also complained of government apathy. About 600,000 Christians and Hindus in Sindh province, 200,000 Christians in Punjab province and 1,210 Christian and 220 Hindu families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province were affected by the heavy flood.
On the other hand, Christian organisations are helping people without any religious differences. “Our rescue operations and delivery of humanitarian aid – food, water, tents, especially medicine – in seven districts. I have brought humanitarian aid to mullahs known for quite radical ideas. I was well received. They appreciated it and thanked us,” Catholic Bishop Andrew Francis of Multan, a large diocese in Punjab, told Fides News.
Source: Spero News