STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

Pakistan is going through intensely traumatic times. Floods and rain has inundated half the country. Vast swaths of rural and urban spaces have been devastated. Millions of acres of standing crops and animals have been washed away. Homes, roads, bridges have been destroyed. Thousands of lives have been lost. Millions stand totally disrupted. It will take months to assess the true extent of the damage and years to return to normalcy.

Relief efforts are afoot, but they are only a few drops in an empty bucket. Food supplies to urban areas are disrupted causing a sharp rise in prices of every day staple food. As always, the Armed Forces are at the forefront of these efforts. Unfortunately, our civil administration and their political bosses are paralyzed. PM Sharif did his pictorial rounds throwing a few food bags from a helicopter. His beloved niece, Maryam Nawaz, is trying to ape Angelina Jolie’s visits to flood zones in 2010 floods. Bilawal’s MNAwashing crud from his shoes with mineral water after a site visit conveys their elitist mindset. What a fake pretentious lot! Propaganda is their sole priority, reality be damned.

The international community has recognized the urgent need to extend help. However, I have heard rumblings from various jurisdictions and have insight into what is being discussed in aid giving capitals. Who would be the recipients of their assistance to ensure their donations and contributions reach the needy? They do not trust the imported regime and have serious doubts about their ability to deliver without massive leakages and pilferage.Sharif, Zardari and Fazal’s past track record does not inspire confidence for those in the know. Trust me, they know when billions in laundered, stolen wealth pass through channels they control!

UN Secretary General stating “Pakistan is facing a monsoon on steroids badly hurting tens of millions of people” is absolutely correct. A cycle of droughts followed by floods is the new reality. Unfortunately it will only get worse. Here are some hurtful facts. In a list compiled of the world’s most polluted countries by WHO; Pakistan stands at number 3 after Bangladesh and Chad. India is at #5. It rates countries that have pollution levels 15 times more than their recommended limits. Elevated levels of pollutants create havoc with eco-systems that trigger such disasters.

Scientists have been warning us for decades that such high level of emission is unsustainable. It will pierce and damage the ozone cover surrounding the earth. The sunrays coming through these holes will raise the temperature on earth. To give it a perspective, 1.7 trillion tons of emissions, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), are released into the atmosphere annually.

We consider the industrial revolution started after 1850 as our savior that catapulted the world towards progress. It is also the biggest culprit. It is the discovery of the fossil fuels that upset the apple cart. The economic systems based on fossil fuels resulted in this growth. Unhindered spread of industry, transportation, mechanized equipment and increased areas under farming have been on the rise for over 150 years.

Wealthy and industrialized nations are mainly responsible for the CO2 produced; hence they are the biggest polluters. Unfortunately Pakistan is sandwiched between two of the biggest polluters in the world. China has the dubious distinction of being #1, it is to our north. India is #3 to our east. Iran to our west is not far behind ranked at #7 amongst the highest carbon polluters. So while Pakistan’s emissions are only 1%, we are severely impacted by our neighbors.

The increase of CO2 is also attributed to the reduction of forest cover globally. Trees absorb CO2 and convert it into oxygen. Excluding the area under water, there was a 50% forest cover 200 years ago. Through logging and clearing land for farming and animals, this cover has dropped to 25%. While many countries have succeeded in replacing their tree cover, Pakistan never bothered till PTI started its planting programs. A recent international study ranks us at #114. We are amongst the lowest forest covered countries.

Facing such severe challenges, Pakistan could be stuck in a flood-drought quagmire for the foreseeable future. Since Ayub Khan built dams to generate electricity and store water, no such efforts were made by any of the following regimes. The ZardariSharif combine resisted any progress on this front. They opted for coal or oil based power generation to receive kickbacks. This criminal activity ended with IK who finally initiated building of new dams, thanks to CPEC. This has taken on a new urgency to control the flow of water by building smaller dams and reservoirs to prevent floods and feed crops during droughts.

Who will bell the cat? The present mindless, directionless lot cobbled together as PDM? This unfortunate aberration on our national scene, inserted by their handlers, has no interest in Pakistan’s long term survival. In fact, they have completely failed to even manage immediate and pressing needs of Pakistanis. Inflation is killing the common man. Their depth is limited to the TV screens blaring their falsehoods and propaganda.

They weaseled their way to power, in cahoots with their handlers, to safeguard their stolen billions and install a chief that will not blow a whistle on their shenanigans. Pakistan and Pakistanis be damned. There are dark days ahead. The only option is to  boot them out and let the popular will of the people prevail through a free and fairelection.        

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