Floods in Pakistan: Many eager to help held back by restrictions

Suhasini Haidar’s report in Hindustan Times, 29 Augusst 2022

“Wish both India & Pakistan had friendly relationship I would have pledged all proceeds from the sale of book for the victims of disastrous floods in Pakistan” tweeted Raminder Jit Singh (@ramindersays), a “Sikh from Jammu & Kashmir” who has recently published a book titled Immaculate Thoughts. The scale of destruction “leaves one benumbed”.

How tragic is it that people who want to help, can’t.

The catastrophic floods in Pakistan have already claimed over 1,000 human lives, over 700,000 heads of cattle and destroyed millions of acres of crops. The situation makes it all the more urgent to ease restrictions between countries of the region and allow food aid and trade to take place. 

The destruction has caused food prices to rise, to the extent that Pakistan is considering opening duty-free import and even reviving imports through the land border with India.

The previous government headed by Imran Khan had cancelled trade ties with India in protest against the Modi government’s revocation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 in August 2019. There have been only two exceptions since then: to import pharmaceutical products during the COVID-19 pandemic and to allow India to ship 50,000 tonnes of wheat as humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Modi has tweeted his condolences to Pakistan for the losses caused by the floods and expressed “hope for an early restoration of normalcy”. This “normalcy” needs to include something that hasn’t been normal for the region – good neighbourly relations. Let people of the region meet – allow visa-on-arrival or a visa-free Southasia, like the European Union, or US-Canada as envisioned by Pakistan’s founding father.

Also read Neel Kamal’s article in TOI: Many hands rising from Southasia for flood-marooned in Pakistan – includes a mention of Sapan, the Southasia Peace Action Network that aims to make this happen.

Why should politics come in the way of people helping each other?

Please see and share this petition and bring friends, family and colleagues on board.

#FloodsInPakistan #Pakistan #India #Southasia 

02 Sept: Updated post to correct the figure of cattle lost to floods, had missed a zero.

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