Tragedy Continues in Pakistan
Besides the humanitarian tragedy and the fact that at certain point the authorities were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the disaster and practically abandoned their people to their fate, relying now almost exclusively on international, mainly American, help, this tragedy hit the economy and the security of the country.
The best agricultural zones were destroyed by the waters and the mud, especially along the banks of Indus River, and the livestock population was killed for the most part of it, while on the security side, the Taliban are moving free in the regions close to the Afghan border as soldiers that were supposed to fight them are trying to save people from drowning.
The most affected parts of the countries were those of the south, characterized by what analysts consider a “feudal” system, in which the feudal lord, rich and powerful, protects the subjects which do his biddings and even cast their vote for them when masquerading democracy requires it. The actual power, the president’s party, is basing its success in elections exactly on this southern part of the country, especially the provinces of South Punjab and Sindh.
The problem of the actual leadership of Pakistan is that in a flood of Biblical proportion such as this, the people are looking up to their protectors, in this case the PPP, the president’s party, whom they have voted in offices. But the help is not coming since authorities are incapable of mobilizing to handle a catstrophe of that magnitude (in fact, it is possible that any other country in the world would have been overwhelmed by the situation).
To his own detriment, at a time like this the president had to travel abroad, thus making a terrible impression as he was trotting the globe while people were dying back home.
That he went to France or to the UK to try to smooth the impact the WikiLeaks.com provoked when they published in the U.S.A. 90,000 files of secret documents of the American army, amongst which there were some that were incriminating the Pakistani leaders of having ties with Taliban insurgents, it is hard to explain to the hungry, homeless people.
Furthermore, there are other forces that step up to help the people and earn their trust: the Army, the industrial elite, the Islamist groups, the Taliban maybe.
It would seem that the president and his party cannot live through this ordeal, politically speaking. Yet, like all “emerging” countries with “feudal” regimes, the ties are so strong that it is impossible to say that for sure.
President Zardari has been building his foreign politics on a very strange game. In fact, he conditioned the military aid to the coalition force fighting in Afghanistan of substantial economic aid. His lobby was so intense, that at a moment, a “Marshall Plan” idea was advanced for Pakistan.
Now the country needs badly a lot of money to survive economically (some $30 billion) and it is hard to believe that the actual leadership of the country will be credible enough to receive the money. Te international community is helping now Pakistan do some damage control and save what can be saved in this situation.
People fear that under these circumstances the Pakistani democracy is in danger of even disappearing from the country. That is deemed to be as much a peril as the murdering waters.11