As Pakistan moves into the rehabilitation and reconstruction phases following this year’s devastating floods, glaring funding gaps for these critical operations are becoming apparent. That the country was facing a serious economic crisis before the flood—and had yet to achieve fiscal balance—certainly didn’t help. .
Pakistan’s plight in this regard was mentioned in the United Nations General Assembly, where Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who recently visited the country for a solidarity visit, told the world that “Pakistan is drowning not only in floodwaters but also in debt. .”International appeals to help Pakistan in this challenging time have yet to receive a strong response.
According to a senior UNICEF official, less than a third of the $39 million needed by the country’s flood-affected children has come in, while minors’ health, nutrition and education needs will only increase. A US State Department official also stated that the international community should help Pakistan more, while American Senator Bob Menendez described his country’s flood-related aid to Pakistan as a “drop in the bucket”.
Moreover, in a meeting with the EU delegation on Tuesday, Senator Mushahid Hussain termed the EU’s aid to Pakistan as “peanuts”.
Donor fatigue was evident and the amounts pledged and disbursed to Pakistan were veritable “peanuts”, especially as the prime minister claimed that post-flood rehabilitation would cost “trillions” of rupees.
The cold, hard truth is that developed countries can spend billions of dollars on war but are very adamant about helping developing countries after disasters. Both the US and the EU have poured billions of dollars into the Ukraine conflict, while America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost trillions of dollars. However, these two foreign actors contributed only a few million dollars to Pakistan’s development.
It must be emphasized that Pakistan is not seeking charity, but justice, as the Prime Minister has said. There is broad agreement that climate change has exacerbated flooding, and that Pakistan has contributed little to greenhouse gas emissions and is paying the price for others’ environmental neglect.
Even as the global economy slows, our international allies can certainly do more to help Pakistan rebuild. Moreover, Pakistan’s elite should loosen their purse strings and help their fellow citizens during this crisis.
The middle class is struggling and unable to contribute much due to economic stagnation; However, those with means can undoubtedly contribute more to the rehabilitation effort.
Foreign creditors should also take into account the UN Secretary General’s call for debt relief and debt swap mechanisms. Currently, Pakistan is unable to repay its huge debts, so the focus should be on reconstruction.