ISLAMABAD: Recalling that the current wave of unprecedented monsoon rains were part of a global pattern of climatic shift that was leading to heavy rains and floods in countries such as the US, Bangladesh and others, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for playing politics at such a critical juncture.

Addressing a press conference from the headquarters of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Mr Iqbal, who is also chairman of the flood relief committee, appealed to all Pakistanis to: “please discourage all those things which promote pessimism.”

“We are a brave nation and we have fought major natural disasters in the past too like the massive 2005 earthquake and the gigantic floods of 2010,” he said, adding that the government and the nation will not abandon those affected by the flood in Balochistan, Sindh and KP.

He was critical of Imran Khan and his party, which has been vocally critical of the government.

“Today, Imran [Khan] said that massive damage occurred because we did not build efficient infrastructure – this is a false statement… it is irresponsible and it should not happen,” the minister said. He asked Mr Khan whether the government was also responsible for the devastations caused by the floods in US, India or Bangladesh. “Are we in the government there too?”

He said that the most infrastructure damage has been witnessed in KP, alleging that this was because the PTI-led government had allowed the construction of structures, mainly hotels, along the banks and beds of rivers over the past eight years.

“But we are not playing politics over this issue, only collective efforts can steer the nation out of the current crises,” he added.

He referred to a bridge in KP that was washed away in the 2010 floods, and while rebuilding it the National Highways Authority (NHA) enhanced its height by five meters. But even then, he said, the water reached that level, showing the magnitude and severity of current floods.

He also called for wholehearted donations to the relief fund established by the prime minister, and contributions to relief camps established by the NDMA and the Pakistan Army.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2022

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