The overriding legacy of the PMLN leadership seems to be an almost enviable ability to put things off. Whereas the previous PPP regime preferred not to address issues at all and did not bother even with the pretence of trying, this government would like everybody to believe that they are engaging. Very slowly. Very minimally. Be it the political crisis created because too much had been put off for too long (and this remains to be the case), or the IDP camps which continue to be organised largely under the army, the Sharif leadership will sit on an issue until it goes stale, until it explodes, or until a big enough vacuum has been created. Enter: floods. A month on, and we continue to hear about compensation, about damage assessment and disbursement. All the while, private charity and Islamist groups are filling in the huge gaps that the government never will. Riding high on the promise of providing a measly Rs. 25,000 to flood affected families, there is little else we are hearing regarding actual rehabilitation and policy reform. To farmers in the Punjab owning 10 acres or less of land, the government has promised Rs.4,000 per acre (far from the amount needed to recover damage). Where does this leave those with 11 or more acres of land? On what basis has this discrimination been made?

When the floods hit the Punjab, the first response team in most cases was Jamaat ud Dawa, who arrived with boats and organised rescue missions, followed by the army. In the absence of the government to provide help, shelter, food and care in the immediate aftermath of the floods, public sympathy swayed and sat firmly with the people who came to their help. When the government’s narrative is invisible, people will flock to other narratives; those that incidentally also provide them and their children with food to live on. The government must realise that if it doesn’t act prudently at a time of crisis, there are others with nefarious intentions, just waiting to step in and pull the rug out from under them.