PAKISTAN: Citizens charter for post floods rebuilding and reform agenda 

Dear friends,

We wish to share with you the following statement from the Pakistan Institute of Labour and Research (PILER).

Asian Human Rights Commission
Hong Kong

A Statement from Pakistan Institute of Labour and Research (PILER) forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Citizens charter for post floods rebuilding and reform agenda

Representative Assembly of civil society met in Lahore and expressed its dissatisfaction over current relief and rehabilitation efforts for the flood victims. The civil society unanimously crafted a set of priority points concerning immediate relief and rehabilitation of the flood affectees.

The civil society members noted with concern that social and regional disparities already existing have sharpened because of the floods. The civil society is of strong opinion that these deepening gaps should be bridged by the state adopting a plan for crafting a new social contract with the citizens that highlights rights and entitlements of citizens and the responsibilities of the state.

It also pointed out that the relief response by the state demonstrated deep flaws as the relief efforts have been slow, inadequate, and politically partisan.

The civil society members demanded the state to revisit its exclusionary national policies that lie at the root of the existing social and economic gaps the burden of which has to be borne by the poor and the deprived of Pakistan. The country’s social, economic, commerce, foreign, and national security policies all are extremely exclusionary in nature and need to be redeveloped incorporating a pro-people agenda of development and progress.

They noted with concern that the over centralized disaster management structures and dismantling of the local government bodies reinforced the damage caused by the floods. The state needs to restore these structures and decentralize disaster management to enable a quick state response to disasters.

The meeting also demanded immediate implementation of senate resolution on debt write off. Rather than continuing with its white elephant existence, the state should introduce austerity measures and control defense spending.

They also expressed displeasure over UN mechanism for disaster response which was flawed, very slow and bypassed the local potential.

The set of demands related to strengthening of relief and rehabilitation efforts jointly issued by the Civil Society at the end of the meeting in Lahore includes:

• The amount promised by the state under the Watan Cards system should be released immediately. The state must announce a date by which time the second installment of the Watan Cards is released.
• The criterion for issuing of Watan Card is highly exclusionary and riddled with systemic flaws. It blatantly excludes people with no ID cards and widowed women by way of the provision for ‘head of the family’. The state should redevelop the criteria for issuing the CNIC for floods affectees. They should either be given temporary ID cards or be issued new ID cards based on community evidence and other flexible criteria.
• The current functional set up regulating the Watan Cards is flawed too. In many parts of the country, the ATM machines are not operating. The government should set up mobile ATMs for the Watan Cards. Moreover, there should be a complaint centre to deal with the issues related to the Watan Cards.
• There is substantial information gap with regards to the Farmers Package, its content and the mechanism concerning its distribution. Due to the lack of information, farmers are unable to access the package. The state should address the issue of duplication of channels of distribution for Farmers Package as currently, the FAO, PRSP and the Punjab Government all are simultaneously serving as means of distribution of Farmers Package.
• The quality of fertilizers and seeds in the Farmers Package are highly compromised. The government should not give hybrid and poor quality seeds in the Farmer’s Package.
• Schools and health units destroyed during the course of floods should be immediately reconstructed. The new reconstructed structures should be accessible to women.
• State land should be distributed among flood affectees, especially women.
• Flood affectees should be registered for social security without delay. Workers who have lost their livelihood during the course of floods must be immediately provided unemployment allowance.
• The means of communication destroyed during the floods must be restored and their future construction quality and design should incorporate risk reduction.
• The state should make the rehabilitation plan public and invite broader consultation for rehabilitation.
• There is consensus that the damage caused by the floods in vulnerable areas such as Swat, Kohistan, Dir, and Jaffarabad has further aggravated the situation as a few of these areas were already facing military operations while also struggling with economic and social marginalization and deprivation. These regions should be paid special attention for relief operations while their rehabilitation should also incorporate a broad-based agenda of improving the economies, social service delivery and rebuilding of state society relations.
• The donor agencies’ reluctance to work with local non governmental bodies is highly objectionable since local NGOs, being a part of grassroots, are in a better position to deliver on assistance. The donor agencies should work with local NGOs and the government too can make this as a condition for international donors to work in Pakistan.
• Relief camps should not be dismantled for population of areas where there is water and living conditions are not favorable. Winter needs for clothing, bedding and shelter should be immediately provided. State should also provide transportation for returning displaced persons.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984. The above statement has only been forwarded by the AHRC.

Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-098-2010
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Environmental protection,