Though Pakistan may be dealing with the floods, the government is dealing with a drought in terms of international aid.* PM Gilani has been appealing to the global community for assistance, citing the war on terrorism as a reason for why resources were scarce within Pakistan to deal with the flood.
Pakistan can’t seem to catch a break. Like the earthquake in Haiti earlier this year, the need for aid and the devastation caused by natural disasters serves to underscore the larger issue of how ill equipped the country is to govern and provide for its people, within its own borders. Sure, every once in a while there comes a natural disaster so cataclysmic that it requires the whole world to pitch in (like the 2004 tsunami). But with Pakistan, there have already been two large-scale earthquakes in the last five years (Kashmir in 2005 and Quetta in 2008), each with large casualties and even more people displaced.
The problem is that with the outpouring of aid, there is less onus on the country to prepare for such a disaster the next time around. And when your country is on the terrain and location that Pakistan is situated in, the occurrence of the next natural catastrophe is a question of “when” and not “if”. But the problem is that with a state of such strategic importance as Pakistan is that letting it fail is not an option, not when the spillover effects into the region are most-likely destabilizing.
So what is the solution? I’m not sure but I think there needs to be more done to strengthen Pakistani infrastructure, so that it can be resilient and effective during times of peace or calamity. By having more accountability over the money that is coming into the country, regardless of whether it is American military aid or international humanitarian aid, Pakistan can build trust within its borders that the government is capable of actually governing. Only a country that is self-sufficient is capable in accomplishing its other goals, including being an effective ally in the war on terror.
* Serious problem but I couldn’t help the word play. I like puns too.