The issue of flood still resonates in the Pakistani Urdu media. Against the backdrop of allegations by MQM leader Altaf Hussein and former Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali that influential people forcefully breached the embankment and diverted the flow of water to save their farmhouses, resorts and valuable land, the Jang Urdu daily in its editorial has called upon the government to constitute a judicial enquiry commission to ascertain the facts. The Jang writes that the fact that common people resisted the move of breaking of embankments during the flood and continue to raise their voices against the ministers for their alleged involvement in the episode is an issue which should not be swept under the carpet. Thus “it becomes an obligation for the government to constitutive an impartial judicial enquiry to find the truth,” opines the daily. The daily also quotes President Zardari who remarked that “talks of breaking embankments in Sindh is just a story and does not hold any truth.” The daily opines that this statement by Zardari would be construed as defending his ministers and party members who face criticism for their involvement in breaking the embankments and reiterates the need for constituting a judicial enquiry commission to ascertain the truth.
The Nawa-e- Waqt Urdu daily criticizes Prime Minister Gilani in its editorial over his remarks that a majority of people in Sindh died because of their obstinate attitude and their ignoring of the government’s appeal to leave their houses during the flood. The Daily suggests that the Prime Minister should not “taunt” flood victims who need the government’s assistance. The Daily criticizes the government for not ensuring safety and security during the flood and reminds Gilani that “people in Sindh did not leave their home as they heard the news of burglary and robbery in flood affected areas of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, South Punjab and Balochistan and decided to stay in their areas to ensure safety of their belongings. Had the government made the arrangements for safety of their belonging they could have moved to relief camps.” The Daily observes that “the Prime Minister is taunting the people for their stubbornness to hide his government’s laxity and ineptness” in dealing with the flood situation.
The Azkar Urdu daily has welcomed the government’s decision to hold an all party meeting including the parties who have no representation in assemblies. The Daily says that “the government should have taken the decision much earlier as all the political parties are busy in point scoring over flood relief and rehabilitation. It has been seen that if the government moots a proposal for flood relief, the opposition presents a counter proposal and thus the flood victims are getting further affected.” The Daily opines that there is a “trust deficit” between the federal and provincial governments as they are demanding equitable distribution of funds from the centre. The Azkar believes that this all party meeting will help resolve these issues as well but warns that if they continue to fight over distribution of funds, the message will go to the people that each political party is using flood victims as a means to increase its vote bank balance. If the political parties resolve their differences it will also send a good message to the international community which is hesitant to release funds fearing embezzlement.
Asas Urdu daily conducted an opinion poll to assess the public mood on the government’s relief and rehabilitation efforts. The majority of respondents believe that the government is not distributing the relief among the flood victims equitably.
Q. Is the government equitably distributing relief among flood victims? (poll
conducted on September 8, 2009)
Yet another poll by Asas Urdu daily revealed that a majority of Pakistanis believe that the embankments were breached by influential people during the flood.
Q. Is the allegation about the breaking of the embankments true? (Poll Conducted on September 9, 2009)