As Pakistan moves into the rehabilitation and reconstruction phases following this year’s devastating floods, glaring funding gaps for these critical activities have become apparent. The fact that the country was experiencing severe economic turmoil before the flood – and has yet to achieve fiscal balance – certainly doesn’t help .
Pakistan’s plight in this regard was raised in the UN General Assembly, where Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was recently in the country on a solidarity visit, told the world that “Pakistan is not only drowning in floodwaters, but also in debt.” Applications have not yet met with a strong response.
According to a senior UNICEF official, less than a third of the $39 million needed for the country’s flood-ravaged children has come in, while minors’ health, nutrition and education needs will only increase. A US State Department official also said the international community should do more to help Pakistan, while American Senator Bob Menendez described his country’s flood aid to Pakistan as a “drop in the bucket”.
Moreover, during a meeting with the EU delegation on Tuesday, Senator Mushahid Hussain referred to the EU’s aid to Pakistan as “peanuts”.
Donor fatigue has clearly set in, and the amount promised and delivered in Pakistan is veritable “peanuts”, especially since the prime minister has said post-flood rehabilitation will cost “trillions” of rupees.
The cold, hard truth is that developed countries can spend billions of dollars on war but are extremely stingy when it comes to helping developing countries after disasters. Both the US and the EU have poured billions of dollars into the Ukraine conflict, while America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost trillions of dollars. Despite this, both these foreign actors contributed only a few million dollars to the development of Pakistan.
It should be emphasized that Pakistan is not seeking charity, but justice, as the Prime Minister has said. There is widespread agreement that climate change has exacerbated flooding and that Pakistan contributes little to greenhouse gas emissions and is paying the price for environmental neglect in others.
While the global economy may be slowing, our international allies can certainly do more to help Pakistan rebuild. Furthermore, Pakistan’s elite must open their purse strings and help their fellow citizens in this time of crisis.
The middle class is struggling and unable to contribute much due to economic stagnation; However, those who can afford it can undoubtedly contribute more to rehabilitation efforts.
Foreign creditors should also consider the UN Secretary-General’s call for debt relief and debt-swap mechanisms. Pakistan is currently unable to service its huge debt, so focus should be on restructuring.