KP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti is right that the first priority of his government is to rescue the stranded, but someone in the ruling hierarchy has to account for the failure to give a timely response to the warnings of heavy rains, which, if heeded, could have spared a large number of people their suffering. The argument that even the Met Office did not anticipate either the severity or duration of the downpour the province and adjoining areas received has a point. But the unfolding situation clearly establishes that the official outfits, created to remain in readiness at all times to meet unforeseen calamities with promptitude, miserably failed. An acknowledgement of tardiness is found in the federal governments letter to the National Disaster Management Authority, pulling it up for not properly redressing the complaints. On the other hand, its Chairman has defended his Organisations work, maintaining that all-out efforts are being made to give relief and, despite the limited resources, it has so far delivered over 2,400 tents, 4,800 plastic mats, 800 blankets and four generator sets to the affected areas. It is undeniable, though, that the unprecedented destruction and disarray the nation is presently witnessing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - 95 percent of its area is estimated to be affected - and other parts of the country, is a daunting challenge that would call for an extraordinary response for which we have been found wanting. One factor that could have served as a morale-booster to the stricken people would have been the visible role of leaders, both in power and out of it, who should have called off their foreign visits, stopped mutual incriminations and joined hands to come to the rescue of the people. That might have also helped President Zardari improve his precipitously falling popular rating that at present stands at 20 percent. The catastrophic impact of the crisis can be gauged from the mounting death toll, the tens of thousands of stranded people waiting for help, the flooded areas hard to access, the threatened outbreak of disease and the inadequate availability of doctors and medicines, to point to a few impediments to rendering assistance. Even if access was easier, it is impossible to make up for the loss. Aid, foreign and local, is highly insufficient; for the cost of the tragedy runs into billions. One expects that everyone, especially the rich Pakistanis, would come forward with the maximum of help. The nation has been known for making supreme sacrifices; the earthquake that struck the country about five years ago brought out the best in all and sundry. The people contributed all they could and it astounded the international community. Here is another occasion for such a demonstration of humanitarian fervour