Governments’ oblivious attitude
The plight of October 2005 victims laid bare the oblivious attitude of elected leaderships towards humanity over the past 11 years. The remarks of the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and another honourable judge of the Supreme Court during the hearing of the case pertaining to plight of earthquake victims jolts the sleeping conscience of the ruling political elite. The most tragic aspect of rehabilitation and reconstruction work in affected areas is that bulk of the funds received for the reconstruction of Balakot and other calamity stricken areas were misappropriated and diverted to the projects of political gimmick like Benazier Income Support Programme and a Metro Bus Project in the province of Punjab.
When the earthquake occurred in on 8th October 2005, International Community favorably and generously responded to the call for assistance by President Musharraf in relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction in earthquake affected areas of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. He advised the then PML-Q government to turn the calamity into opportunity. Billions of dollars were committed in the donors’ conference which was held in Islamabad and the inflow of foreign assistance immediately started.
The Chief Justice, while presiding over three member bench hearing the case about the earthquake victims said if he should make a four hour journey to visit Balakot and Mansehra why not the Prime Minister. The aid funds poured in from around the world for earthquake victims were entrusted to the government but were misappropriated, he said. The top judge in his remarks said that hands were extended for taking alms after the devastating earthquake but the consecutive governments and authorities continued to plunder the assistance provided by donors. Where is the money that was meant to build houses for earthquake victims he asked the Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction authority (ERRA) officials? The court summoned its head in the next hearing.
“It cannot be possible to spend winters under tin roof. Once affluent people are now living in shelters, the affected areas are devoid of schools and hospitals,” the CJP said. He said that the court has sent the report of the session judge to the Prime Minister but to no avail. The federal cabinet should sit and look into the matter itself.” If the problems of the earthquake victims are not resolved and the dam is not built, then I will join the people in their protest,” the CJP Mian Saqib Nisar said.
The Attorney General told the court that he had a conversation with the Prime Minster regarding the issue but he was unaware of the matter, to which the Chief Justice of Pakistan said that it was surprising to note that the chief executive of the country was clueless about the situation of victims of earth quake. “The Prime Minister is unaware of the most pressing issues of the province which has given him the most love,” the Chief Justice remarked.
During the hearing, Justice Ejaz ul Hassan said that the money which was meant for the relief and rehabilitation of earthquake victims was instead spent on metro bus project and Benazier Income Support Programme.
The misappropriation of aid provided by donors dinted the image of the country and reputation of the government in the international community. It was because of this credibility gap that donors did not respond favourably in the wake of July 2010 unprecedented devastating floods that brought havoc in the provinces of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Sindh despite the repeated requests from the previous PPP led government. It were the local and foreign NGOs, relief organisations and people who performed the necessary relief and rehabilitation work. The people while voting to power PTI in July 2018 elections expected better performance and people friendly attitude keeping in view the honesty of Imran Khan and his people friendly attitude but now they find him not much different than the traditional politicians who belong to the exploitative feudal and mercantile classes.