During monsoon season each year, Pakistan witnesses familiar scenes of mayhem across urban centres due to poor preparation with regards to drainage systems, the early warning mechanism and ritually overwhelmed local administration. The National Disaster Management Authority has warned about flooding, landslides and glacier outbursts as well as an uptick in the locust invasion during heavy rains. The relevant authorities should survey rain drainage systems across the country to check if they are clean and will fulfil their purpose adequately. Then there is the issue of electric wires that threaten citizens and often result in avoidable loss of life.

Old buildings in poor conditions also pose a threat as they may collapse. The phenomenon is especially common in old city areas. Building corporations therefore should review their status. If deemed necessary, they should withdraw safety certificates and relocate inhabitants to safer locations. The routine blame game between the PPP and the MQM should not be repeated this year. The yearly spectacle of the perpetually pleading Karachi mayor pointing fingers at the apathetic PPP provincial government for flooding in Karachi makes for great political drama, but it does nothing for the hapless people of the country’s biggest metropolis. As for Lahore, it is hoped that Punjab CM Usman Buzdar does not have to borrow former CM Shehbaz Sharif’s boots and wander into knee-high waters barking instructions at puzzled civil servants. There should be more to his strategy.

Adequate funds, timely planning and close cooperation between federal, provincial and district circles can help avert disaster. The fact is that some level of flooding during peak rain season is witnessed even in the most developed cities across the world. That being said, what distinguishes successful administrations from weak ones is their level of planning and execution to manage the crisis. Perhaps the most crucial point raised during the NDMA meeting was the need to take global warming seriously. Pakistan must define a clear policy in this regard and put able people in charge to see it through. Some disasters just cannot be managed. The time to act is now.