ACTION ALERT: Use Pakistan's Military Funding to Flood Recovery
August 24, 2010
The Campaign for Peace and Democracy & Labour Party Pakistan
The recent floods represent the worst disaster in Pakistan's history. The country has been devastated. The State, stripped of its capacity to meet peoples' needs by neoliberalism and militarism alike, has been found wanting. In addition to donating funds, people are invited to sign a petition calling for priorities that value people's over the demands of Pakistan's military.
(August 23, 2010) -- Below is a very important statement from friends in Pakistan who have been organizing flood relief efforts in their country. The statement helps to put the catastrophe into a global political context and urges a fundamental change of course by the international community and both the US and Pakistani governments.
How To Contribute
We ask that you respond as soon as possible to this appeal from Pakistani progressives with an online donation or by sending a check, made out to CPD, to:
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
2790 Broadway, #12
New York, NY 10025
Please indicate that your donation is for Pakistan flood relief. All earmarked funds that we receive will go to Pakistan. If you would prefer to send your support directly to the Sindh Labour Relief Committee via wire transfer to Pakistan, let us know by return email at email@example.com and we will send you the instructions for how to do that.
The Disaster, and the Way Out
Labour Party Pakistan (Karachi), National Trade Union Federation
Labour Party Pakistan in Karachi has released this statement on the flooding. A parallel initiative is being launched in Islamabad and Karachi by LPP and Workers’ Party Pakistan, among others, all with the aim of calling attention to the political dimensions of the crisis.
KARACHI (August 20, 2010) -- The recent floods represent the worst disaster in Pakistan's history. The country has been devastated from the Northern Areas to its Southern tip. The State, stripped of its capacity to meet peoples' needs by neoliberalism and militarism alike, has been found wanting -- both in its longstanding failure to maintain existing infrastructure, and in its response to the calamity.
The grassroots relief efforts that have emerged across the country are heartening, but a crisis of this magnitude can only be handled by an institution with the resources and reach of the federal government.
As in all disasters, the assistance of the military will be necessary -- but this must be subject to civilian oversight, and must not be exploited to glorify the Army at the expense of the government. The military's relative strength is a direct legacy of pro-Army federal budgets, and we remember too well the failures of the Musharraf government in 2005.
Reconstruction costs have been provisionally estimated at $15 billion -- a mammoth 466% of the total federal budget for the forthcoming fiscal year. It is critical, therefore, that the political and structural roots of the crisis be urgently addressed.
As of July 2010, Pakistan's total external debt stood at $54.5 billion. A great majority of the debt is owed to multilateral institutions, the Paris Club donors, and the IMF, all of which can be written-off if the political will is found. Servicing on the public or publicly-guaranteed portion of the external debt in FY 2010 amounted to roughly $3.4 billion -- an amount seven times larger than the UN’s initial aid target of $450 million. The State should not be sending this kind of revenue overseas while people die of hunger and disease at home.
The budget must be revisited, with the intention of cutting all excess expenditure and redirecting money towards relief and rehabilitation. Current discussion around revising the budget calls for cuts to development spending, when it is fact the military budget that must be targeted.
The Rs 442.2 billion allocated to defence in the current federal budget is up 13% from FY 2010. Resources saved must be urgently redirected towards the relief and rehabilitation efforts.
International governments must radically increase their assistance to Pakistan. The amount thus far collected is miniscule relative to what the moment demands. The assistance offered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank are loans, and will have to be repaid -- a fate that Pakistan's poor are unlikely to be able to afford at any stage in the immediate future. Assistance to the Pakistani government must be made as grants.
We further call on the international community -- specifically the antiwar movement -- to redouble its efforts to expose and redirect the enormous resources wasted on the criminal wars in Iraq and Af-Pak. The US spends around $12.2 billion on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan every month -- the cost of the Afghan surge alone was $33 billion, roughly 220 times greater than the amount the US has pledged for flood relief in Pakistan.
Evidence is also emerging that links these floods to rising atmospheric temperatures, and thus to climate change. Three-quarters of all carbon emissions have been produced by only 20% of the world’s population, and it is the poor in the developing world who are bearing the brunt of the resulting environmental degradation. The rich countries ought to offer urgent reparations to Pakistan as compensation for suffering the costs of others’ industrialization.
Finally, after the corruption that marked earthquake relief efforts, we recognize the importance of the aid being distributed in a transparent and democratic manner. We support the creation of a separate national commission to oversee reconstruction spending, provided it fulfills its mandate and is made entirely open to public scrutiny. All relevant authorities, like the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), should further be brought under civilian control.
Recognizing all this, we call urgently for action based around the following demands. Only the pressure of a popular movement can force the hand of the government and international community.
1. CANCEL THE DEBT
2. CUT DEFENCE EXPENDITURE
3. INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE IN GRANTS, NOT LOANS
4. REDIRECT AMERICAN MILITARY SPENDING
5. REPARATIONS FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
6. DEMOCRATIC AND TRANSPARENT RECONSTRUCTION
LABOR APPEAL FROM PAKISTAN
Campaign for Flood Relief of the Sindh Labour Relief Committee (SLRC)
Today we have formed the Sindh Labour Relief Committee (SLRC) in extended emergency meeting of different organizations at the National Trade Union Federation office in order to collect in-kind and cash donations in Karachi, and deliver it to people in relief camps and on roadsides. The immediate requirement is food, shelter and medicines.
SLRC Consists of the Following Groups: Labour Party (LPP), National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), Labour Education Foundation (LEF), Progressive Youth Front (PYF), National Students Federation(NSF), Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), Sindhi Urdu Abbabi Sang at (SUAS), Home Based Women Workers Center Association (HBWWCA), Sindh Youth Forum (SYF), Young Lion Heart (YLH), Garment Hosiery Workers Association (GHWA), ZABIST Zeitgeist Movement (ZZM), Adarsh Sath (AS) and Democratic Labour Union Steel Mills.
Pakistan is witnessing its worst floods for 80 years. Unprecedented water levels have had truly devastating effects on the country, its infrastructure and its people from the north, in Gilgit, all the way downstream to Kotari, in Sindh. It was initially estimated that some 14 million people had been displaced more than 2,000 were thought dead, and crops covering an area of 5 million acres had been submerged in water.
Nearly 3 million people, in total, have been displaced from the banks of the Indus in Sindh alone. The actual figures are almost certain to be much higher, as many people still remain missing and the waters have yet to recede. Pakistan has lost an estimated $1 billion in agricultural revenue. Infrastructure around the Indus River has been destroyed.
Our inept political leadership confronts this crisis while bogged down by foreign debt obligations and calls for austerity at home and abroad. Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Balochistan were severely affected by the flood in its first phase, and now the floods have hit Sindh. The affected populations are in a dire state an already impoverished people have lost all of their belongings, including homes, farms, crops, and cattle.
The army and the government have engaged in sporadic intervention, and have declared the handling of the crisis beyond their capabilities. NGOs and individuals have done what they can to fill the void. But nothing, of course, can ever be sufficient.
Reports from the ground suggest that only a small fraction of the affected have been housed in temporary camps; the rest are sitting out in the open by the roadside, on railway tracks, and bridges, with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. All are at high risk of hunger, and water-borne diseases.
There are reports of increasing desperation; food trucks and convoys run by NGOs were attacked near Shikarpur and Kashmore on the Guddu Barrage. On Sunday a protest erupted at a government relief camp in Sukkur, after a resident died of hunger.
Big landlords have, in several cases, worsened the crisis by diverting water towards poorer localities in order to protect their own land. In Sindh, the most affected areas are on the sides of the Indus River, from Gedu to the Kotri Barrage. The city of Jacobabad was evacuated, and 155,000 people in Khairpur district were displaced. Delivering aid will become harder in the next several days, as these areas are slated to be inundated by more floods.
SLRC's Proposed Work Will Be Centered in Moro, Naushehro Feroz District. In Naushehro Feroz, an estimated 96,000 face a serious threat - hunger and displacement. Nearly 15,000 are without food and shelter at the moment in camps in Moro. About 10,000 are said to be sitting on the sides of the road, trying to protect their cattle. The following goths no longer exist: Malik (3,000), Rajodero (4,000), Solangi Goth (2,500), Joraloo (1,000), Chanija (1,000), Gidro Goth (1,000), Detal Korai (5,000), Leghari Bechani (4,500), Purano Gachero (5,000). The city of Moro, home to hundreds of thousands of people, is under threat.
Building on our long-standing community ties in the region, we are starting relief work in Naushero Feroze. We have established 3 relief camps in Moro, where 150 families have been accommodated. 50 comrades are involved in rescue operations near Moro Bachao Band, helping to safely evacuate people stuck in areas surrounded by the flood water. We are committed to working with this community in a sustained and organized manner, as long as need be.
We have formed the Sindh Labour Relief Committee (SLRC) in order to collect in-kind and cash donations in Karachi, and deliver it to people in relief camps and on roadsides in Naushero Feroze District. The immediate requirement is food, shelter and medicines. SLRC Consists of the Following Groups: Labour Party, National Trade Union Federation, Labour Education Foundation, Progressive Youth Front, National Students Federation, Home Based Women Workers Federation, Sindhi Urdu Abbabi Sangat, Home Based women Workers Center Association, Sindh Youth Forum, Young Lion Heart, garment Hosiery Association and ZABIST Zeitgeist Movement, Adarsh Sath.
Where and How You Can Help
SLRC is going to establish four relief collection camps in Karachi--at Regal Chawk. Clifton (Aghas), Landhi, Habib Bank Chawrangi SITE.
In addition, there will be collection points in Gadap (run by cooperatives), New Karachi, and Sanghar starting Tuesday, August 17th. We appeal to all of you to extend a helping hand, and to show practical solidarity with people affected by the rains and flood.
Nasir Mansoor: (+92300-3587211, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abira Ashfaq: (+92314-2003885, email@example.com
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
2790 Broadway, #12
New York, NY 10025