In a society pockmarked by misogyny like that of Pakistan, women are always at the receiving end of crisis. But this time they are the real wretched of the earth, whose survival conditions have been aggravated by the catastrophic floods. Irregular monsoon climatic patterns of weather have wreaked havoc on their lives, health, finance and education, among others.
More worryingly, it has been reported that approximately 73,000 women, in addition to 577,000 pregnant girls, are impacted by floods and are now living in horrendous conditions in plastic tents. Having been forced to live in temporary accommodations, they are dwelling at the mercy of aid agencies – national and international. Without the availability of health facilities and medicine, and above all, with no proper bathrooms and lacking in sanitary pads, they are likely to get ill sooner than later in crowded plastic tents. More importantly, they are at the risk of catching malaria, dengue and other viral diseases while having to live in such pathetic health conditions.
To add to this, 50,000 households have been destroyed, resulting in 800,000 refugees. Almost half of them are women and children, who are contending with deadly, catastrophic circumstances. They don’t have food to eat three times a day, let alone appreciable health conditions for the proper growth of their yet-to-be-born babies.
If not addressed diligently, it would take Pakistan decades to come out of this crisis. Given this uphill task of providing relief to people, all stakeholders of the state must be united and build a consensus on how to move forward, as there is no other way to cope with a climatic crisis of this magnitude – other than building a consensus between government and the opposition.
Additionally, owing to normal circumstances where women were not allowed to get education in Sindh, Balochistan and KP because of lack of resources and misogynistic culture, compounded by these climatic disruptions and the complete annihilation of thousands of schools and colleges, the journey of young girls towards receiving education has become tougher than ever.
At the current pace of recovery, it would take years for families with six children to recover from this crisis. Education for girls is no longer a priority for families who have lost their homes.
It appears we have to start everything all over again – including education for girls – in three out of four provinces of Pakistan.
Given these circumstances, it is high time for our political leaders to build a consensus on a minimum common agenda so that people get relief support. It is not the right time for petty power politics – a thought that was at least ostensibly expressed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Pakistan needs united action to make the current situation a moment of rebirth where everyone has to play a role, including the political apposition. Instead of playing with the lives of people and continuing jalsas, Imran Khan should think of his people. Playing politics in these dire circumstances is no less than a criminal act. Anyone who engages in politics instead of engaging with people, who have been hit by the floods, cannot be a true representative of people.
The Haqiqi Azadi (Real Freedom) of which PTI speaks is, in fact, paved with giving relief and support to the people. This is something that the government and opposition must understand.
Simply put: it is the responsibility of the state to provide relief services to its beleaguered people, who are beset with survival challenges, having lost their houses, livestock and agricultural land. Otherwise, Pakistan will lose a generation to the floods – with women receiving most of the damages in terms of losing education, health, finance and jobs.
As for the international community, time is ticking. They must help Pakistan to get back on its feet.
The writer is a freelance columnist. He tweets at @Shahzai02364040. He can be reached at They6776@gmail.com
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