Would that our leaders were as sensitive to the plight of their own people, as they are to kowtowing before the US and its allies Certainly, the nation would have been far better off with a sensitised leadership which would have been there to console and offer succour in times of dire crises - as we are going through right now in the wake of natures flood fury. But that continues to be our tragedy today. Instead of actually taking concrete actions to deal with natural disasters, we form committees and bureaucratic structures that simply line the pockets of all but those who deserve assistance. This time it has been no better, despite the lessons the 2005 earthquake should have taught us. In fact, we were told that the organisational set-up to coordinate earthquake relief had set up vital SOPs premised on lessons learnt and much was made of the new infrastructure that would be available for disaster management. Many seminars were held and attractive shields handed out. Of course, the new organisation managed to find job slots for retired military personnel with no questions asked, although at the time one should have asked where the professional skills for modern disaster response were going to come from. After all, the military does not provide this sort of training, although in Pakistan it is generally assumed a military background will allow you to fit in any sector. While at Quaid-i-Azam University, one had to suffer the insult of being told that an ordinary Brigadier required no higher degree to be appointed as professor in contrast to an academic who had to have a PhD plus a certain number of publications and postgraduate training experience. When this scribe took the issue to the LHC, the lawyer did suggest before the judge that if a Brigadier could become a professor then perhaps his client could be given a brigade to command by virtue of an assumption of interchangeable skills But that was the Zia era and suing the General was not to be taken lightly, so there was a dearth of tolerance for courtroom humour However, another issue that such an approach raises is that how can those who are sidelined from promotion in their own profession be seen as the best and brightest to take charge in civilian sectors, especially those requiring professional training and inputs? But I digress. The point is that much after the earthquake, donors continued to interact with what eventually was transformed into the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Surely, the NDMA by now should have had SOPs in place to cope with natural disasters such as floods - regardless of the intensity. After all, monsoons come every year and some contingency planning should have been in place - even though the scale of the present disaster was epic by all standards. Yet, there seems to have been almost no infrastructure in place and no local cells equipped with the minimum resources for rapid response. But then ones memory is jogged a little and one remembers that this is not Pakistans first attempt at creating a disaster management set up on a national level. After the 1975 floods, under the Planning Commission, the National Logistic Cell (NLC) was also initially set up to be a disaster management organisation for logistical support, which was to have small centres across the country, all equipped with rapid response teams and equipment such as food, tents, medicines and transport so that wherever a disaster happened the aid would immediately be available at least as a holding operation. Alongside, the Z.A. Bhutto government had also planned to set up an Oil Storage Corporation, both for peace time and war, which would set up oil storage facilities at different points across the country. What happened to that plan, one does not know, but the NLC has totally diverted from its original function as it has gone into road construction, goods transportation (after all, there were all these trucks that had come their way) and even into playing the stock market - everything but disaster management. So one should not be too surprised to see the NDMA go the same route, given how its blueprint is not much different But the point is that in every disaster that hits Pakistan - man-made or coming from nature, it is the ordinary people of this country who are the first to rally round - while the state bureaucracy slowly gears itself into action. Even when the Airblue plane crashed in the Margallas, it was members of civil society who arrived first to provide assistance - apart from the police who happened to be on duty nearby. What is distressing is that the leadership is also found wanting. One can still recall Musharraf standing arrogantly on the rubble of Margalla Towers and today we see our President disappear to France and UK when he should be offering support by being with his flood-struck people to offer consolation and hope. In fact, his children whom he is grooming for a political coup should also have gone out amongst the people from whom they will eventually seek votes and support The visit to the UK was a no-no on so many counts after the Cameron diatribe - but that was a political issue. More critical is the humanitarian and sensitivity issue of the leadership being with the people, not taking off for foreign lands. After all, there was nothing of urgency that required an immediate visit to France or the UK. Some credit must be given to the PML-N leadership for at least making an effort to go to the people although in some parts of southern Punjab the VIP protocol was a hindrance more than anything else. Perhaps, the most humane approach was from KPs Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain who was out there three days after suffering a horrendous personal tragedy of seeing his son murdered and his house bombed. But his own leader was barely visible. But why do we continue to have any expectations from our leaders when they are continuously making it clear that their sensitivities are for their foreign friends who are causing chaos and instability in Pakistan while abusing us through their official statements as well as through their media. It seems there is simply no end to the pressure and abuse our leaders are prepared to bear from the US and its allies. Right now this pressure is closing in from all sides. After all, the Cameron attack on Pakistan came after he had visited the US and the timing and place where the abuse was done was not simply a coincidence, especially since he has stuck to his guns. But our leaders continue to pussyfoot around all this abuse and show no backbone in terms of taking any nationalist positions which may run counter to US demands. Right now little is coming out from the Pakistani state in terms of a strong denouncement of news that the US may be planning operations inside of Pakistan in FATA. No less a credible source than US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has hinted at this - but our military continues to maintain a strange silence, as it also continues to support US operations in Afghanistan. Not just that. Our government has gone all out to probably aid and abet such an operation against our people and our country by unilaterally - with no reciprocity - bestowing hasty visas to Americans who are in all probability covert operatives entering Pakistan to build up the intelligence, lines of communications and other logistics base for a US military operation against Pakistan. When a leadership aids the countrys foes, how can it be sensitive to the plight of its own people?