Watan Cards, relief efforts of government for flood victims

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ARTICLE :The month of August usually brings happiness for the nation as it celebrates the Independence Day on August 14 and the celebrations at the grassroots level continue for around a couple of weeks- starting a week earlier and continuing for over a week later, till almost 20th.

But this year unfortunately the country experienced the worst floods in the recent history as the floods besides the routine glacier met flows from the northern areas were heavily supplemented by the continuous heavy rains that resulted into unprecedented swell in the rivers, which in turn spilled over their protective embankments inundating vast areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Punjab and Sindh causing widespread destruction. But Sindh being the coastal province the most, as all the water had to eventually enter the
Arabian Sea as far as loss of lives and properties was concerned.

The scale of death and destruction owing to the floods was enormous that it attracted the attention of the entire world the United Nations, its member countries national as well as international non-governmental organisations and they immediately responded and came to help.

The nation was instantly faced with the challenge to rescue the millions of people who were living in their villages and were trapped in the high floods, the rescue phase of the disaster has been successfully completed by the government and now the new challenges that people and the government is faced with are the rehabilitation of the flood victims, reconstruction of the infrastructure-roads, irrigation, canals, etc - and assist the flood victims returning to their villages so that they could make their agricultural lands, which had been inundated and the flood water after receding had left a thick layer of silt, cultivatable in time so that they could sow the next crop in time.

Keeping in view the difficulties being faced by the flood victims the United Nations spokespersons Stacey Winston speaking at a press conference a few days ago had said that though the flood stuck the country over three months back over 7 million people were still away from their homes and their condition was deplorable.

Hundreds of villages have been wiped out from the face of earth and over 1. 9 million houses had been damaged destroyed by the floods and the total number of flood affectees, all over the country, was around 20 million. According to the UN official the area affected by the floods was larger than the entire land mass of the
United Kingdom.

However, it is regrettable that while the entire world, recognising the seriousness of the disaster is extending help sympathetically a few opportunist politicians are trying to exploit the human misery and issues being faced by the affectees to their advantage and rather than extending a helping hand to the government to minimise the problems being faced by the affectees they are criticising the government and trying to create hurdles for the people s government in its efforts to help the flood victims.

But fortunately the people have become intelligent and they are able to see through such nefarious designs of these short sighted politicians and people recognise that their government it making all out efforts to provide all available assistance to them. The people know that if their elected government had not timely rescued, them then relocated them to the hundreds of the relief camps, took care of them by providing food, medicines, etc at the camps and finally is making arrangements so that they could return safely to their villages the catastrophe could have been a much larger can scale. History tells us that many countries faced much smaller disasters not only had to compromise their independence but also the human tragedy that they faced had been far more severe.

Thanks God that people s representative government was in office at time of this disaster and it countered the situation intelligently, never lost its nerves and kept the situation under control at all times. The situation following the 2005 earthquake that struck country in the northern areas, when the country was ruled by a military dictator, it still fresh in people s memory and the international community is still clueless where the major chunk of billions of dollars that it had given for the earthquake victims had gone.

The PPP government is even providing assistance to those earthquake victims also because it considered its responsibility to serve the affected people. It is an achievement of the people s representative government that it successfully overcame the issues raised by the floods up to a certain extent though still a lot of work - like rehabilitation of affectees, employment generation for them, helping them to rehabilitate their agricultural lands has to be done. But, with the help of God the people s government would succeed in these areas also.

The way Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, his cabinet and people concerned made pre-flood strategies and implemented these successfully minimising the losses they deserve a recognising for their efforts from the people. It is owing to this strategy that over 62,000 flood victims out of 88,000 who took shelter in
Karachi, have returned to their villages.

The government has also launched an unique relief scheme the Watan Cards - through which the flood affectees are receiving financial assistance directly and so far over Rs 8 billion- as a first instalment - have already been disbursed among over 400,000 victims in the province, while many more billions will be disbursed through these same Watan Cards shortly. The Watan Cards scheme has become the largest such scheme globally through which financial assistance is being provided directly to the victims. Just to show how large the scheme is a table showing district wise data relating to Watan Cards issued and funds disbursed is being printed.

Some incidents were reported that some miscreants were creating doubts in the minds of poor and simple villagers that the Watan Cards are for one - time use only so after they have drawn their instalment the Watan Cards have become useless/worthless so these may be thrown away or sold to them for a few rupees. Flood victims should not listen to such miscreants, as the flood victims who have been given the Watan Cards are their rightful owners, and all the subsequent financial assistance or whatever else relief or assistance the government decides to provide to the flood victims will be given through these same Watan Cards, so these should not be sold and should be kept safely for future use.

The above details have revealed that the current democratic government, keeping in view the limited financial resources available, has not only countered but has also successfully over the issues flowing out of one of the largest natural calamities that the country had faced in recent history. As far as some incidents relating to mismanagement in the law and order situation at, the Watan Cards processing centres are concerned the people would be happy to know that the Sindh Chief Minister has already taken a serious notice of it and has ordered that all the short comings and faults in the Watan Cards processing mechanism be removed. He is also monitoring the issue on regular basis so that miscreants do not take advantage of loopholes and take away any part of funds that have been made available for the flood victims.

As far as difficulties being faced by the victims in getting the Watan Cards are concerned or some ugly incidents occurring at the Watan Cards processing centres are concerned the government is sorry for the hardships being faced by the poor victims, but the scale of disaster is so big and subsequently the scale of the relief and rehabilitation operations is so enormous that some smaller unpleasant incidents, unfortunately, do occur no matter what the government does. This is a natural calamity and government with all its abilities was making all out efforts to mitigate the sufferings of the flood victims. Though the government is doing whatever it can, this is national crisis and it is the duty of every Pakistani to show patriotism, unity and discipline and strengthen the rehabilitation process by it could to help out the flood victims so that they soon become self sustaining and play their effective role in the progress of the country.

Courtesy: Business Recorder

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