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Archive for October, 1987

A season of devastation

The recent floods in Pakistan were reported to be the most devastating in the country’s history. It was preceded by a few weeks by unprecedented rains in Sindh, rendering the Province a disaster area even before the later calamity. The brunt of human and material cost for the season’s havoc and mayhem was thus borne both by the Punjab and Sindh, the only silver lining of sorts being that Sindh, to an extent, escaped the full brunt of the later floods and thus from double jeopardy. The overall collateral damage has been a grievous blow to the economy of the country, while the short-term residual effects will retard the progress of the economy.

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Sindh Situation

To revive the Sindh economy, pragmatic and bold initiatives must commence with Karachi which is not only the prime city of Sindh but that of Pakistan, being its only port. Karachi remained economically buoyant during the 70s because of a construction boom fuelled primarily by expatriate funds from the Middle East. While the money for housing is still there, the lack of water and power have rendered housing starts to virtually nothing. Consequently, a large percentage of the traditional labour force is unemployed, the residual effects spiralling upwards and cutting into white collar jobs. The net result has been an economic downturn of enormous proportion that has degenerated into (1) ethnic strife as the population has increased but the economic cake has become smaller (2) deterioration of law and order as the jobless have turned to crime and (3) consequently residual political factors breeding a general state of anarchy. This has been further accentuated by the machinations of RAW, (the terror arm of India), drugs and arms proliferation, activities of armed militants of various political parties, dacoits from the interior seeking kidnap victims from richer urban areas rather than their traditional rural hunting grounds, etc. To complicate the economic scene, entire industries have shifted northwards to safer havens, deepening the unemployment crisis.

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