3rd September 2022
By Rehan Piracha

Representatives of civil society have demanded that the federal and provincial governments must immediately conceive and implement a national action plan for the rescue, relief, and rehabilitation of flood victims across the country.
On September 2, in a public meeting, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) put forward the concerns being voiced by civil society. A draft charter of demands was prepared on the political, economic and climate crisis enveloping Pakistan.
In her address, HRCP chairperson Hina Jilani said that it was critical for civil society to work in unison against a growing political narrative that did not believe in rule-based order and that valued demagoguery and populism. She said that HRCP would use its convening power to bring together civil society onto one platform, but said it was also critical for civil society, ‘to prove not only that it is relevant but also that it is indispensable in the current crisis.’
Senior advocate Abid Saqi said that a meaningful political movement—involving labour, women and students—was required to resolve the ongoing crisis.

Speaking at the meeting, senior journalist Imtiaz Alam supported the charter of demands by civil society encompassing the protection of all fundamental rights.
Human rights defender Tanveer Jehan said that strategies for disaster preparation must include mobile medical units and systems to trace families that had been divided by disasters.
Political economist Dr. Fahd Ali said that the IMF deal should be renegotiated because Pakistan now needed the fiscal space to carry out rehabilitation and reconstruction. The defence expenditure, he added, as ‘the elephant in the room’, should be openly debated.
The speakers pointed out that an immediate concern was the devastation caused by the ongoing floods that were a result not only of the climate crisis but also of the Pakistani state’s failure to carry out sustainable, pro-poor, pro-people development.
Additionally, constant political confrontation continued to undermine democratic values at the expense of ordinary citizens’ needs, while decades of elite capture, hyper-securitisation and short-sighted economic planning have pushed daily-wage and fixed-income workers to the brink of survival.
National Action Plan
According to the CoD, the civil society called for a NAP to be conceived and implemented jointly by the federal and provincial governments to rescue and provide relief to all those affected by the floods as well as to rehabilitate their lives and livelihoods.
“The role of local governments is key in this regard: they must be strengthened and given the technical and financial resources and autonomy needed to carry out relief work, climate change-resilient reconstruction and disaster preparedness.”
 At the same time, the state must revise its policies towards civil society: the ousting of international NGOs has only worsened the current crisis, the charter of demands said.
The speakers said Pakistan’s climate crisis was also political.
“Civil society demands that the state give all provinces a fair hearing and address the legitimate grievances of all ethnicities—in particular in Balochistan, Sindh, former FATA and the Seraiki waseb—if it expects to put forward a united front to counter the climate emergency.”
The civil society also called on the government that women should be represented equally across all institutional and government tiers. The charter of demands also urged that the national elections should be held in a free and fair manner that would ensure a representative government with the political will to protect the interests of the working classes and marginalised groups.
People participating in the meeting also expressed their opinions about the ongoing political and economic crises in the country.


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