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Pak flood damage exaggerated to get more aid?

Last updated on: August 23, 2010 14:47 IST

Image: Locals struggle to recieve food donated by a local charity at Punjab province in Pakistan
Photographs: Reinhard Krause/Reuters B Raman
Security affairs expert B Raman feels that Pakistan is milking its current crisis to extract maximum concessions and aid from the international community.

The Pakistani floods, which have reached Sindh, have inundated vast areas and caused considerable devastation. In the initial stages of the floods, its was the Khyber Pakhtunkwa, the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan which bore the brunt of the damage, but the latest figures after the floods reached Sindh show that materially Sindh has suffered more than the other provinces, but in terms of fatalities, Khyber Pakhtunkwa continues to have been the worst-affected.

According to damage estimates dated August 19, by the Federal Flood Commission, the fatalities were as follows:

Khyber Pakhtunkwa: 1067 (1068);

Sindh: 44 (50)

Gilgit Baltistan: 183

Punjab: 103

FATA: 64

Balochistan: 24.

The figures within brackets are those given by Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority. While the Federal Flood Commission has not mentioned any fatalities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the NDMA has said there were 69 fatalities in PoK.

Pak flood damage exaggerated to get more aid

Image: Locals cross a flooded road in Pakistan
Photographs: Asim Tanveer/Reuters
The Federal Flood Commission has estimated the material damages as follows:

Out of the 63 lakh  people affected in Pakistan, 24 lakh belong to Sindh, 19 lakh to Punjab, 15 lakh to Khyber Pakhtunkwa, 476,845 to Balochistan and 87,000 to Gilgit-Baltistan.

Originally, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had claimed that about 2 crore people had been affected by the floods. It has now come down to 63 lakh people, one third of the initial estimate. The international aid pledges made so far were on the estimate that about 2 crore people had been affected as claimed by the Pakistani government. This has turned out to have been a highly exaggerated estimate.

Similarly, of the 10,963 affected villages, 4,295 are in Sindh, 3,132 in Punjab, 2,584 in Balochistan, 581 in Khyber Pakhtunkwa and 371 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The cropped area inundated in Sindh is 15 lakh acres, Punjab 14 lakh acres, Balochistan has 630,705 acres, Khyber Pakhtunkwa has 466,626 acres, FATA has 6,500 acres and Gilgit-Baltistan has 9,000 acres. The total cropped areas damaged countrywide is 41.35 lakh acres.

At least 211,375 houses have been destroyed or damaged in Sindh, 178,493 in Khyber Pakhtunkwa, 91,210 in Punjab, 75,261 in Balochistan, 2,820 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 1,432 in FATA and 1,481 in PoK. The total number of houses destroyed or damaged is 567,461.

Of the 274,692 houses destroyed, 108,279 were in Khyber Pakhtunkwa, 75,261 in Balochistan, 44,752 in Punjab and 40,667 in Sindh.

The livestock losses are also the highest in Sindh where over 126,200 cattle head have been killed. Balochistan has lost at least 17,926, Khyber Pakhtunkwa 8,438, Gilgit-Baltistan 4,669, Punjab 748, PoK 400 and FATA 15.

Pak flood damage exaggerated to get more aid

Image: A aerial view of farm houses in floodwaters
Photographs: Reinhard Krause/Reuters

Based on the original figures of nearly 2 crore people affected, the UN had estimated the immediate aid requirements of Pakistan for relief purposes as $ 460 million.

The dramatic projection of the damages suffered by Pakistan by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the US authorities and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quereshi at the special session of the UN General Assembly on August 19 had resulted in pledges worth nearly $ 800 million -- the major pledges being $ 150 million from the US and $ 100 million each from the UK and Saudi Arabia. Only
China, which apparently suspected that the Pakistani authorities were exaggerating the estimate of the damages suffered, refrained from increasing its pledge beyond the initial amount of $10 million.

While many governments and the UN Secretary-General let themselves be moved by the dramatic account of the damages painted by
Pakistan, non-governmental organisations and individual donors apparently suspected that there was an element of exaggeration in the accounts disseminated by
Pakistan abroad. This was one of the factors responsible for their poor contributions.

Pak flood damage exaggerated to get more aid?

Image: A family wades through flood waters in Pakistan's Muzaffargarh district
Photographs: Adrees Latif/Reuters

The Dawn of Karachi wrote on August 22, 'A mix of reasons were being given for the world's sluggish response to the calamity. These ranged from a corrupt image of the government to being a supporter of Taliban. British Prime Minister Cameron's terror export remarks reinforced this perception and made donation collection more difficult. Going through the hostile remarks posted on various websites seeking comments on assisting Pakistan floods reveals that there is hardly any friend of Pakistan in the outside world.'

"Governments are giving donations because of the geopolitical considerations, some multinationals are also donating after being encouraged by different capitals, but Pakistan clearly lacks public sympathy, which is crucial for generating funds," a Western diplomat commented.

The Indian government has done well to make a contribution of $ 5 million as a mark of solidarity with the victims of the floods, which the Pakistani authorities have accepted after some delay. Salman Haider, former Pakistani foreign secretary, has circulated an appeal on behalf of the so-called Balusa group with which the ill-tempered and ill-behaved foreign minister used to be associated, asking the Indian public to donate generously for the flood relief in Pakistan.

Well-wishers of the Pashtuns, Sindhis, Balochs and the Kashmiris of Gilgit Baltistan should appeal to the people to donate instead to India-friendly organisations in Khyber Pakhtunkwa,Sindh, Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan for use in flood relief.