EVERY day the number of people affected by the torrential rain and flooding in Pakistan is mounting. More than 20 million have been hit. Over 1,600 people have already died and thousands more are expected. There are also fears of epidemics like cholera.
A report in the latest Lancet medical journal stated: ‘The floods have disproportionately affected poor people, usually subsistence farmers, living along the river banks, or in agrarian catchment population.’
Workers and middle-class people all over the world have responded with millions of personal donations.
Workers’ organisations, like trade unions, have given generously. For example, the Canadian Autoworkers union (CAW) donated $40,000 at the weekend.
Humanitarian and religious organisations in Pakistan and internationally are making tremendous efforts to provide tents for those left homeless, feed those who have lost crops and food supplies, and provide basic healthcare.
The opposite is the case as far as the governments of the richest imperialist countries, like the United States, Germany, France and Britain are concerned. They have promised paltry sums of money and the United Nations has received barely three-quarters of the total $460m pledged.
In Britain, while charities organised in the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) have raised £29m in donations, the Tory Lib-Dem government has offered only £60m.
Louis-George Arsenault, Emergency Operations Director of the UN’s child welfare organisation, UNICEF, condemned the extraordinary lack of support from the ‘international community’ for funding relief operations.
Earlier this week he said: ‘Right now, our levels of needs in terms of funding are huge compared to what we’ve been receiving, even though this is the largest, by far, humanitarian crisis we’ve seen in decades.’
Writing in the Lancet, public health doctors Zulfiqar Bhutta and Shereen Zulfiqar Bhutta said: ‘It will be a travesty if the poor flood victims have to pay the price of the “image deficit” of the country.’
This is obviously a reference to the fact that the US administration and British premier David Cameron’s coalition government have been churning out black propaganda against the Pakistani people.
The Pakistani masses and those of neighbouring Afghanistan are the targets and victims of the imperialists’ ‘war on terror’ twice over. Billions are spent every month in military operations against national resistance movements, like the Taleban, in both countries. Yet, when floods sweep away homes and livelihoods, the masses are left to suffer homelessness, hunger and disease, with the richest imperialist states unable and unwilling to fund humanitarian work.
The imperialists’ desperate response to the deepening world capitalist crisis is war against the masses of former colonial countries and war on the working class at home.
As a loyal servant of imperialism, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari was given the red-carpet treatment, and wined and dined by Cameron in London and President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris last month, when the floods disaster first began.
Now, however, sections of the ruling classes of the imperialist states want to establish another military dictatorship in Pakistan to deal with the insurgent movement of the masses.
Altaf Hussain, an opportunist politician who has supported every imperialist-backed regime over the past decade, whether military or parliamentary, is calling for this. He wants ‘patriotic generals to initiate martial law-like steps against federal politicians’.
It is clear that workers in the West, who have rallied so magnificently to support the people of Pakistan, need to take action to put an end to imperialism. It is inflicting catastrophes on the lives of tens of millions of people in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In Pakistan, workers need a revolutionary party to lead the masses in the struggle to defeat the pro-imperialist military chiefs, overthrow the bourgeois government made up of corrupt politicians from families of landowners and capitalists, and establish a workers’ and farmers’ government that will implement socialist policies.