FOR the Prime Minister to tell the people of the flood-ravaged parts of Sindh that they are themselves responsible for their suffering is simply outrageous. It is a cruel joke The people are down and out, living in miserable conditions, maybe without food, shelter and medical care. Many have lost their kith and kin, animals, homes, whatever they cherished dear, whatever enabled them to make a living. And with the government still indecisive about how to distribute funds to let the uprooted citizens stand on their feet, they see little hope for the future. Mr Gilani should have known that his own government had generally failed Pakistanis badly, the latest failure being their neglect in the face of rushing floods. It had been slow to move and even when it did extend help it was marginal. Largely, either the people helped themselves or the armed forces or private welfare organisations rescued them from the submerged areas and have been taking care of them since. The situation has not changed much, and the affected population is waiting for the waters to recede to move back to their towns and villages. One should have expected the Prime Minster to have known the situation, realised that his incautious utterance would hurt the sensitivities of the already disillusioned lot, even if in some cases the fault lay with them. It is already a month and a half that the floods first hit Swat and other areas in the north and it did not take long for the experts to gauge that they were of biblical proportions. Yet, despite the claim that a large amount of money has been collected, the government has not so far decided upon a methodology for their distribution and Mr Gilani has only now called a meeting of the Council of Common Interests to work out the methodology. The affected population would have been largely spared the sufferings they had to go through, had they been provided some funds quickly. There is also need for an impartial investigation to be held into the common complaint that influential landlords have added to the peoples misery, either causing breaches of embankments or preventing them from taking place where needed. Those found guilty of thus saving their own crops must be held to account. This is the time to give relief to the people, and one hopes that the story about the President thinking in terms of levying a 'flood tax is mere speculation. It is for the leadership with their wealth stacked abroad to bring it back in this hour of crisis and give up their lavish style of living, rather than further fleece the impoverished public. There is little doubt that the country is passing through crises of immense dimensions to an extent that more and more analysts are talking in terms of a 'failed state. Only by providing relief, with a sense of dedication, to the people in general, and under the present circumstances, to the flood affected in particular, can we prove these critics wrong.