Richmond World Affairs Council

The Floods in Pakistan

Last month, Pakistan’s monsoon season announced itself with the worst flooding the country has seen in almost a decade. The floods have now enveloped most of the country and affected over 4 million people. 1600 citizens have died while thousands more are still stranded without food or drinking water (The New York Times). This natural disaster will continue to adversely affect the Pakistani people and their economy for years to come. To deal with this catastrophe, the United States, the United Nations, and the Pakistani government must take action.

There are four major aspects to this situation and each must be carefully analyzed and solved in order for Pakistan to survive this disaster. The first, and most immediate, is the humanitarian and health issue. The spread of waterborne diseases is a huge threat as is the food shortage resulting from the large amount of destroyed crops and farm land. The economic aspect is another central concern. Bridges, roads, and other infrastructure have been washed away and destroyed in the floods. International economic aid will be necessary to rebuild Pakistan’s lost infrastructure and development projects. It will also be essential to help farmers rebuild crop land; this is a large part of the country’s income and how most families sustain themselves.

The remaining issues are political. One of these concerns is the United States and Pakistan relationship. This is an opportunity for Washington to show the Pakistani people that we have the best intentions and that we will be a long-term partner in their development and recovery process. The Obama administration should use this catastrophe as a chance to overcome Pakistani distrust of our motives and push for greater cooperation. The United States must provide increased support and display a keen interest in this area of the world at this critical time. Providing economic and humanitarian aid will go far with both the government and people of Pakistan.

Perhaps most importantly, if the United States and Pakistan don’t do enough, Islamic groups will step in and provide the much needed aid to struggling citizens. This has happened in the past, and in other countries, and there is certainly a high probability for this to occur again. The greatest political consequence of the floods is the possibility that Pakistani militant groups will step in to fill the void. The Pakistani government must do everything it can to prevent this from happening. However, without economic aid, there is little chance of achieving this. Pakistan needs the international community’s support to maintain stability in the face of this devastation.

~ Alissa Aronovici