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Balochistan ignored

THE Indus River has unleashed its own ‘terror’ in areas that were normally considered safe from the destruction wrought by humans because of the remoteness of locations.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, southern Punjab, central Sindh and the eastern districts of Balochistan are facing a humanitarian crisis of vast proportions. Since Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the front-line province in the war against terror and has a competent provincial leadership, it is likely to get fair levels of response. Punjab, similarly, is well-represented in influential institutions and is a well-off province. It, too, may prove to have the institutional capacity required to deal with the situation. Sindh, meanwhile, has a sizeable share in the federal capital, where the majority of the top political positions are occupied by the PPP.

Balochistan, however, is seriously lacking in capacity, leadership and resources.

The United Nations’ agency for human settlements, UN Habitat, says in an Aug 5 report Rapid assessment of flood affected areas in Balochistan that: “The Balochistan government has fewer resources as compared to the other provinces. The capacity of the people of Balochistan to cope with such a calamity is low as compared to other provinces, keeping in view that it is the most deprived province of Pakistan. It is evident that owing to the scale of disaster a major humanitarian response is required to assist the people….”

Despite these grave realities, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has banned international donor agencies, aid organisations and NGOs from directly assisting the flood-affected people of the province. Meanwhile, the ministries of foreign affairs and the interior, and the provincial home departments, have issued a list of ‘open’ and ‘prohibited’ areas for foreign nationals in Pakistan. The decision requires regular security clearance for international staff travelling to all the prohibited areas, which include all seven Fata agencies and several flood-affected districts of Balochistan.

Furthermore, Islamabad has imposed a ‘project no-objection certificate’ issuance condition for any organisation operating in the flood-affected areas in Balochistan, even though this could be temporarily suspended as it has been in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, by the provincial disaster management authority.

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Faiz Baluch