S. TARIQ It is now been two weeks since the heavy monsoon clouds began dumping their moisture over the catchment areas in northern Pakistan turning rivers and nullahs into raging horrors that created a catastrophe unparalleled in the history of the country. The Swat, Kunar and Kabul Rivers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and waters of the Indus combined to wreak havoc in an area of more than 1000 kilometres, from the mountains in the north to the plains of Punjab and Sindh in the South. Balochistan also suffered its share of agony, as flooded streams swept away livestock and people. More than 1600 people were reported to have been killed, while an unknown number have gone missing and these figures are likely to rise as a second monsoon system became active over Pakistan. It is estimated that the lives of more than 13 million people have been affected with about two million whose homes were completely destroyed. The United Nations has termed the disaster as the worst that Pakistan had ever faced and said that recovery would cost billions of dollars. In a statement, Mr Jean Maurice Ripert, the United Nation Secretary Generals special envoy for assistance to Pakistan, said: We know that the area affected and the scale of the disaster are such that hundreds of millions of dollars will be needed to address urgent humanitarian needs and billions of dollars will be required for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructure and livelihoods. The International Monetary Fund has warned of major economic setbacks and the Finance Ministry has stated that the country would miss this years 4.5 percent gross domestic product growth target. The government appeared to be in a state of paralysis showing at best a sluggish and knee jerk response. The civilian administration, as well as the National Disaster Management Authority, were totally unprepared for the magnitude of the calamity, which could have been forecast using satellite imagery and models. This once more proved beyond doubt the lack of proactive planning and the inability of the government machinery to justify their existence and perks. Blessedly, it was the armed forces who were once again called upon to bring order to chaos and succour to the suffering, reinforcing the faith Pakistanis have in the ability of their military to come to their aid in times of crises. I am no meteorologist or climatologist, but I am a citizen of this country, who is aware of what is happening at home and elsewhere. I am someone who practices conventional wisdom without getting mired in statistics and complicated technical data that retards and restricts common sense decision making. It is common knowledge that aside from their power generation and irrigation uses, dams are an effective aid to controlling and managing flood waters. I was told by some experts, that the city of Nowshera and the surrounding area was inundated due the swollen waters of River Kabul and a surge from the River Indus. If this be true then perhaps a dam such as Kalabagh may have prevented or minimised the catastrophe. It was ironic however that the very city, which according to the detractors of Kalabagh Project, was under threat of submersion if the dam was built, could have been saved if the said project had been completed. Also, the proposed dam combined with the regulating capability of Tarbela may have mitigated the havoc in Sindh, as the super flood rushed towards the Arabian Sea destroying everything in its path. The question is whether this flood was natures way of sending a message to those groups and individuals that oppose the construction of the Kalabagh Dam and what happens if such floods recur? It is perhaps the time for the anti-Kalabagh lobby to sit back and introspect - a time to look at reality and bring about a change in their mind set. It is perhaps time to start building the long overdue dam and for these very people to lay its first stone. The writer is a freelance columnist.