As our last post noted, the Pashtoon belt of Pakistan known as the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province has been hard hit by terrible monsoon floods this summer. Fortunately, the Pashtoons have responded in quite unbelievable ways. Giving preference to others over one’s self has always been an inherited Pashtoon trait, and in the case of these epic and historical floods the response has been consistent. People left without food, clothes, and shelter — the essentials of everyday living — have been aided by those who’ve been lucky enough to be spared. Those who lost everything are gaining what they lost back from those who have very little left.
The example of Ajab Khan may clarify just how much the Pashtoon has made sacrifices for others. Ajab Khan has a two room house in Charsada and luckily his house was spared from the recent flood, as it was situated on higher ground. Ajab Khan is now residing in the village Jumat (mosque) and has accommodated a family of 22, women and children mostly, that lost everything. Ajab Khan earns his keep at a local hotel, at roughly 180 PKR (Pak Rupees) per day (approximately $2 USD). It is worth mentioning that one can hardly feed his wife and two children on PKR 180, as Pakistan is amongst those countries that are suffering from hyper inflation nowadays. To feed his guests who have been residing in his house, he had to take out a loan from the village Khan.
The story of Ajab Khan demonstrates just how fundamental the Pashtoons are in trying to press on with relief efforts. Generosity is the only thing that is not in short supply here. They streamline blocked access routes, are now rebuilding collapsed bridges, finding dry land to erect tents, coordinating the provision of clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, and helping administer any other supplies to those suffering.
As road and bridges have been knocked out, some Pashtoons are even carrying the injured on their backs to hospitals. Students have donated blood and participated in the fund raising activities. In fact, Peshawar University which is considered one of the oldest universities of the country, was closed for three days so that students studying in various departments of the university could take part in the relief activities. The medical students provide medical facilities in the remote areas; the engineering students helped in building temporary bridges and roads; and the social scientists helped in building and motivating people to participate in the relief activities. Everybody has skills worth contributing.
The Pakistan Army has played an exceptional role in the relief activity. People living in the country are proud of the Pakistan Army. However the political leaderships of the country seems to have failed to provide any significant relief and has disappointed the whole nation left in shambles.
It is worth mentioning that in Pakistan there are huge political implications from the flood. The political leaders of Pakistan are resented by those living in the country, as most of the leadership enjoys life either in the big cities of Pakistan or foreign territory. The mounting frustration may even lead to a revolution, as in Iran and Afghanistan. Even most of the political analysts and pundits are warning against a revolution because those officials have failed to represent and protect when their citizens needed them most.