Khurshid Akhtar Khan Nothing appears sacred any more in our country named Pakistan, translated as the land of the pure. Not many people are still alive to recollect and reminisce over the tremendous enthusiasm, fervour and passion of the minority Muslims of British India with which they patiently waged a long mainly peaceful campaign to win independence from the mighty British and the domination of majority Hindus. The single-minded obsession was to carve out a separate homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent to be governed democratically by its people who will have equal rights and opportunities without being oppressed by any class or caste system. Few are aware or care to remember today the sacrifices, the colossal loss of human life, indignities and atrocities suffered during the historic exodus subsequent to the partition of India in 1947. Trains full of men, women and children were brutally massacred among the half a million that perished and 12 million that became homeless crossing the newly drawn borders. Old family bonds and centuries old way of life were irrevocably disturbed for 7.2 million refugees who migrated to Pakistan from India. All these hurdles were surmounted with forbearance in the quest for a new and bright beginning in the land that was to bring them dignity and joy. Within six decades, we have managed to disintegrate the new nation into two parts, to throttle democracy and have re-mortgaged our sovereignty and foreign policy that we had claimed from the British, to any bidder prepared to dole out money to us. We have abandoned the golden principles of self-reliance, austerity and hard work and feel no shame in holding a begging bowl, forever appealing to the world on one account or the other in search of easy money, bulk of which is quickly plundered without a trace. Our poor are among the poorest of the world and a few that have amassed fortunes that come as dividends from the easy money, are rated among the richest in the world. The political spectrum is monopolised by the biradri system, a few chieftains and pirs with the recent addition of big business that is controlled and guided by the civil and military bureaucracies. The elections are manipulated and do not necessarily represent the people or be termed as truly democratic. Several of our distinguished members of Parliament bear tainted reputations and several possess such low moral turpitude that they feel no remorse in submitting forged degrees to qualify for elections. A sustainable political system could not be put in place as the army forcibly takes over the country at will periodically, dismisses elected governments and suspends the constitution with the assistance of the higher judiciary that has always cooperated in legitimising their rule and the blatant distortion of the constitution. The unending power struggles between the influential families, tribes, religious groups and institutions have converted the country into a battlefield, with various groups claiming control over their areas of influence. A large cross-section of our population has been kept deprived and isolated from the mainstream, still living in nearly the dark ages, in immense poverty and totally alienated from the developments in the outside world. A few groups among these simple and peaceful people have become victims of international politics that has pushed them into becoming militant extremists peddling confused ideologies in the name of Islam. Young boys from impoverished backgrounds are inducted to commit suicide bombings on assigned targets with the promise of a passage to heaven. Insurgencies are brewing at least in three provinces. The commercial hub of Karachi is strife with political rivalries among PPP, ANP and MQM that have been penetrated by the land, transport, drug and various other mafias seeking to maximise profits under political patronage that allows them to shoot people dead in broad daylight with impunity. People just disappear with no recourse to any legal or police action for recovery. The nation that was the pride of the entire Muslim world has been reduced to an unmanageable pariah and symbolically an alleged hub of ignorance, decadence and violent extremism that has made us a target of international scorn and condemnation. The level of financial corruption of our leaders and administration has reached such heights that the whole world is talking of our credibility gap, image problem and trust deficit. Now, we seem to have earned the wrath of the Almighty in the shape of the unprecedented floods not seen in the region during the last eighty years. One-fifth of Pakistan is under water, 20 million people have been rendered homeless. The suffering from these massive floods is estimated to be more than the combined total of 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, 2005 Kashmir and the 2010 Haiti earthquakes. Flooding moved along the Indus River in the agricultural belt of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, south Punjab, Sindh and parts of Balochistan destroying crops of sugarcane, cotton, rice, pulses, tobacco and animal fodder. Two million bales of cotton have been destroyed, hundreds of thousands of million livestock are lost and about one million houses have been damaged and countless villages washed out. True to its perception, the initial response of our democratic government was sluggish, disorganised and apathetic. Rival politicians began scoring points against each other, indifferent to the enormity of the calamity, loss of life and property, the adverse effects on the economy and growth that is forecast to reduce by half, and the monumental relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts that are needed and that are beyond our capacity. The President in his wisdom did not think it necessary to cut short his foreign visit and share the miseries of the affected. All known television anchors reached the flooded areas to acquaint the public of the devastation. The UN Secretary General paid a flying visit to personally asses the extent of the disaster and called for a relief fund amounting to $460 million. Numerous world leaders including the US, UK, European Union and Islamic countries assured financial and material support. The OIC convened a special meeting to raise funds. The army and the navy expeditiously set up relief camps and used helicopters and boats to rescue thousands of people and provide flood relief. Non-governmental, charity and United Nations organisations moved swiftly to provide shelter kits, drinking water, ready to eat food, tents, and mattresses and basic healthcare amid accusations of ministers breaching bunds and directing the water to neighbouring, densely populated areas to save their own crops and holdings. During all this time our government is still deliberating on the formation of a transparent commission comprising people of impeccable reputation to disburse the expected relief fund and to ensure its proper utilisation. Perhaps, the government is reluctant to let the anticipated large sums slip through its hands. Is there nothing else but politics and money in the land of the pure? How many more people have to be sacrificed before we learn our lesson? The writer is an engineer and entrepreneur Email: