By T.H Shah
In a wake of heavy monsoon downpour in Karachi and Lahore, many casualties have been reported causing crushing blow to the victim families. At least thirty people reported to have been died and more than sixty injured due to last day heavy rain in Karachi. Though the monsoon raining is enthusiastically welcomed in Pakistan for it is harbinger of pleasant buffets of winds and rains in unbearable hot weather, but it has some sorrowful strings that usually remain invisible to the people because of absence of crisis management structure and ill-conceived city planning in the country. The death of these people in Karachi crops up many questions from sociological viewpoint as in Pakistan, large numbers of families depends upon the earning of one person who is the main source of livelihood for his or her family members. Obviously, the death has deprived the victim families of their main financial support and they are left with nothing. If the died ones includes anyone doing menial job or labouring for baking his or her bread, then the loss is extremely unbearable for the victim family.
As Pakistan is underdeveloped country incomparable to developed countries in respect of social and economic benefits where the affected ones are supported by the government, so this situation has certain human rights repercussions upon the victims. As the children of deceased ones are vulnerable to child labour/bonded labour etc. in order to support their families, because they will get no support from the government. This dire situation raises the question on the slogans of political management representatives to make Karachi and Lahore the model of Paris and London; and also divulges the incapacity of the bureaucracy involved in city planning and management.
The way in which the crises are dealt with is absolutely injudicious in the country. First, there is no separate mechanism to deal with the crises as in case of any natural calamity or incidents, it is army coming to rescue operation. The best example to grasp is of historically worst earthquake on October 2005 in which the role of civil institutions to deal with this natural disaster almost been tantamount to nothing as the credit for successful rescue operation goes to American Chinooks helicopters; and a point which has been recognised by Ex-president Mr. Musharaff while addressing to the press conference on George Bush (Ex US president) visit to Pakistan.
It irony that both at federal and provincial levels, the crises management is an ignored area; it is common observation that in an hour of any road or trains accidents the response of some voluntary trusts like Edhi Foundation is always more prompt and swift compare to government bodies. But those available medium provided by the government for dealing with such worst inhumane happenings are usually stricken with dilapidated form and corruption tendencies as well. The ambulances and fire-brigades vehicles presents junkyard scene with lack of necessary first aid facilities till the time patients or victims are taken to the hospitals while most of them die on the way to hospitals due to lack of life-saving facilities in the ambulances.
As said earlier, the absence of crises management structure has also an element of human rights violations. As in consequence of worst earthquake in NWFP and AJ&K, large number of women and children became helpless and homeless. Such women and children reported to have been abducted particularly most of the escaped women became torture of inhumane treatment. Under this precarious situation, the role of crises management cells stands supreme especially when every year the plain cities are susceptible to heavy floods.
What can be done is an establishment of emergency relief cells or crises management cells both at federal and provincial levels with provision of modern and sophisticated technology. In every annual budget, separate funds allocations should be made to keep them in lines with modern equipments. Equally important is to ensure transparent utilisation of these funds and to make provision of these funds safe from red-tap labyrinths. The survey by independent media shows that even today the large number of earthquake victims is awaited to get relief for construction of their houses due to complicated administrative procedures adopted by the Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (ERRA).
The crisis managing education plays pivotal role in equipping people to deal with disasters and calamities in an organised way contrary to haphazard way. Even in many developing countries like Thai Lands, Singapore, Malaysia and Kenya as well the capacity buildings programs are organised to teach and train the public and civil society representatives how to prepare for crises management. In many countries, crises management, risk management is taught as a separate subject at academia. Sensitising the dire need of this phenomenon, government should introduce course of crises management in universities and colleges. Undoubtedly, the establishment of crises management cells will not only facilitate dealings of disasters but it will prove helpful in avoiding human rights violations as well.
Other areas necessitating urgent attention of all responsible government environs is to introduce modern concept of social sciences in the academia. Unfortunately, we have still continued study of many social sciences in limitedness like political science, economics, sociology and anthropology . When analyse syllabus of these subjects, it sounds outmoded having no relevance to the modern requirements. For example, in political philosophy, we don’t have any chapters on contemporary political thinkers so students are deaf to modern prevailing political trends. The relevance of this fact needs to be understood within the perspectives of growing role of the study of Social Policy and Social Research. Topic like city and town planning falls within the category of social policy, but unfortunate to say that these subjects has not been given proper heed. Resultantly, in city planning sociological aspects is entirely ignored. Therefore, the current aftermaths of flood and heavy downpours should be analysed from this perspectives and the task of city planning should not be left to only engineers or architects, but consultations should be taken from experts of social policy as well. It is possible only if the people are made awareness of the importance of the study of the subjects like social policy and social research and so on.
It is, therefore, incumbent upon civil society organisations to launch campaigns for translating the thought of crises management into reality and also oblige the policy makers to introduce the study of social policy, criminology, and human rights as separate subjects in the academia.
(The Writer is associated with Press For Peace (PFP) as Director Research. He could be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
More details: http://www.pressforpeace.org.uk/Home)