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Pak Floods: Damages Exaggerated by Islamabad to Get More Aid?

The Pakistani floods, which have reached Sindh, have inundated vast areas and caused considerable devastation. In the initial stages of the floods, its was the Khyber Pakhtunkwa, the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan which bore the brunt of the damages, but the latest figures after the floods reached Sindh show that materially Sindh has suffered more than the other provinces, but in terms of fatalities, Khyber Pakhtunkwa continues to have been the worst affected.

2. According to damage estimates dated August 19,2010, of the Federal Flood Commission, the fatalities were as follows: Khyber Pakhtunkwa — 1067 (1068) ; Gilgit Baltistan — 183, Punjab 103 ; FATA –64 ;Sindh — 44 (50) and Balochistan — 24. The figures within brackets are those given by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). While the Federal Flood Commission has not mentioned any fatalities in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), the NDMA has said there were 69 fatalities in the POK.

3.The Federal Flood Commission has estimated the material damages as follows:

• Out of the 6.378 million people affected in the country, 2.45 million belong to Sindh, 1.9 million to Punjab, 1.56 million to Khyber Pakhtunkwa, 476,845 to Balochistan and 87,000 to Gilgit-Baltistan. ( My comment: Originally, the Government of Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani had claimed that about 20 million people had been affected by the floods. It has now come down to 6.378 million people, one third of the initial estimates. The international aid pledges made so far were on the estimate that about 20 million people had been affected as claimed by the Pakistani Government. This has turned out to have been a highly exaggerated estimate )

• Of the 10,963 affected villages, 4,295 are located in Sindh, 3,132 in Punjab, 2,584 in Balochistan, 581 in Khyber Pakhtunkwa and 371 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

• The cropped area inundated in Sindh is 1.552 million acres, Punjab 1.471 million acres, Balochistan 630,705 acres, Khyber Pakhtunkwa 466,626 acres, FATA 6,500 acres and Gilgit-Baltistan 9,000 acres. The total cropped areas damaged countrywide is 4.135 million acres.

• At least 211,375 houses have been destroyed or damaged in Sindh, 178,493 in Khyber Pakhtunkwa, 91,210 in Punjab, 75,261 in Balochistan, 2,820 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 1,432 in FATA and 1,481 in POK. The total number of houses destroyed or damaged is 567,461.

• Of the 274,692 houses destroyed, 108,279 were in Khyber Pakhtunkwa, 75,261 in Balochistan, 44,752 in Punjab and 40,667 in Sindh.

• The livestock losses are also the highest in Sindh where over 126,200 cattle head have been killed. Balochistan has lost at least 17,926 cattle head, Khyber Pakhtunkwa 8,438, Gilgit-Baltistan 4,669, Punjab 748, AJK 400 and FATA 15.

4.Based on the original figures of nearly 20 million people affected, the UN had estimated the immediate aid requirements of Pakistan for relief purposes as US $ 460 million. The dramatic projection of the damages suffered by Pakistan by the UN Secretary-General Mr.Ban Ki-moon, the US authorities and Mr.Shah Mehmood Quereshi, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, at the special session of the UN General Assembly on August 19 had resulted in pledges worth nearly US $ 800 million—-the major pledges being US $ 150 million from the US and US $ 100 million each from the UK and Saudi Arabia. Only China, which apparently suspected that the Pakistani authorities were exaggerating the estimate of the damages suffered, refrained from increasing its pledge beyond the initial amount of US $ 10 million.

5. While many Governments and the UN Secretary-General let themselves be moved by the dramatic account of the damages painted by Pakistan, non-Governmental organisations and individual donors apparently suspected that there was an element of exaggeration in the accounts disseminated by Pakistan abroad. This was one of the factors responsible for their poor contributions.

6. The “Dawn” of Karachi wrote on August 22: “A mix of reasons were being given for the world’s sluggish response to the calamity. These ranged from a corrupt image of the government to being a supporter of Taliban. British Prime Minister Cameron’s terror export remarks reinforced this perception and made donation collection more difficult. …..Going through the hostile remarks posted on various websites seeking comments on assisting Pakistan floods reveals that there is hardly any friend of Pakistan in the outside world. “Governments are giving donations because of the geopolitical considerations, some multinationals are also donating after being encouraged by different capitals, but Pakistan clearly lacks public sympathy, which is crucial for generating funds,” a Western diplomat commented.

7. The Government of India has done well to make a contribution of US $ five million as a mark of solidarity with the victims of the floods, which the Pakistani authorities have accepted after some delay. Shri Salman Haider, former Foreign Secretary, has circulated an appeal on behalf of the so-called Balusa group with which the ill-tempered and ill-behaved Pakistani Foreign Minister used to be associated, asking the Indian public to donate generously for the flood relief in Pakistan. Well-wishers of the Pashtuns, Sindhis, Balochs and the Kashmiris of Gilgit Baltistan should appeal to the people to donate instead to India-friendly organizations in Khyber Pakhtunkwa,Sindh, Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan for use in flood relief.

( The writer, Mr B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

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