By Admiral Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey (Retd)

The flood damage is so huge that it can not be handled by Pakistan in a measurable time frame on its own. It neither has technical means nor know how nor the financial capacity to reinstate the infrastructure built over last 60 years.  An innovative and courageous approach is called for.

It has to be done by the people themselves. There shall not be enough support from the world community. We shall have to find own means and resources.

Following steps are proposed these should be taken in parallel.

  • Obtain an aerial map of the total flood affected area. Show it in colour. On another map show the rivers and riverines flow in a normal monsoon to discern the differential.
  • Procure mapped record of previous floods since the major one of 1929.Mark boundaries of the area at the peak level of this year’s flood. Show boundaries of the provinces, of each district and its Tehsils.
  • As soon as appropriate the affected with families return to the sites of their abodes. They should be helped with whatever means possible from the nearest area to have a temporary overhead cover. Food for six months and other essentials to survive also be provided to them. Agriculturist to be provided all inputs to grow the earliest possible crop. It is vital for survival, peace and security.
  • Each affected mark his house himself as it existed before the calamity.  Prepare the list of major items including cattle and agriculture or other means of his earning that he had and what is left. This information should be certified by the two neighbours at site. It should be accepted as authentic and final. No revenue or bureaucratic intervention should be necessary. The aim should be to return them to their pre flood abode and comfort as far as possible. Medical comfort should be provided by mobile system till permanent facilities are set up.
  • The affected himself prepare the financial need to rebuild that minimum size home and other assets that existed before the flood. An estimated amount for the smallest house/hut be predetermined. That amount should be paid there and then. The support for his other need also be sought from him. If possible paid to him there also. The Idea is to serve him there. He should not be chasing for the support and further demeaned.
  • The houses and other losses in access of the minimum size should also are worked out by the affected. The minimum facility house paid for should also be paid to these affectees.  Amount in access thereof should be given as a loan without interest to be returned in 15 years.
  • Considering the losses from north to south affecting every province by the flood the  number of affected could be close to 30m. With an average family of 6 the housing units of all sizes will be 6m. A compensation of Rs100, 000 at the minimum will be Rs 6bn. In most cases there will total loss of houses. There may some repairable. That adjudication should be done there in presence of local people. The  amount needed for this purpose should be diverted from the development budgets of the provinces and augmented by the centre. The compensation promised for those who died and injured by various Leaders will have to be added for the families concerned.
  • The financial requirement determined above should be given to each district. I am making the ensuing recommendation with shame. It is to save nation from feud, loot, plunder and robbery that it has been subjected to. Request top ten declared most honest countries to provide personnel for each district upto Tehseel level to disburse the amount to the people. Officers from the Armed forces and a known honest person of the area should witness the disbursement. It should take no more than one month. A large number of teams will be needed for this task. The detail should be worked out immediately. Politicians and bureaucracy should only be in support of these teams.
  • While the individuals being such compensated we should looking at the infrastructure for its repair and rebuilding. It should be dealt type wise rail, road, river and building.  Aim here also should be to reinstate the system to pre flood position.
  • The destruction of the infrastructure should be displayed on a map for each facility accurately. Cost of replacement estimated and published inviting help with heavy equipment needed in each field. In this case also the financial aspect should be controlled by those who offer to rebuild any area or facility. They should keep and disburse the funds themselves. We should support them for provision of what they ask for, to do the job. Maximum local man power should be engaged.  Maximum local facilities be utilized to the needs in rebuilding the infrastructure.  This time the fury of flood be kept in view.
  • We have been a basket case for the international community for some time. Therefore donor fatigue syndrome should expected. In addition there are many other catastrophes that this planet has been subjected to during this decade. Our country has been devastated by having been on the front line fighting a war that was not ours. Therefore what every support is provided should be used judicially and honestly.  Most of the funding has however to be raised locally. We may look at our strength and resources:
    1. Our most valuable asset is the people. 180 million of them. 80 million are fourteen and under.   About  90 m are 15 to 64 age group. This strength needs to be mobilised to face this challenge.  All those not employed productively should be engaged in the reconstruction effort. They should be paid well and as far as possible should work in the vicinity of their homes. They should be given the task of their choice to suit their mental and physical capabilities. To manage and accomplish what has been proposed will need a very strong IT network at district HQ –down- laterally and upward to the provincial Headquarters from there to the Center. Physical movement and for photo should be minimum. Maximum  work should be done online and saved on the computer, activity wise. There should least paper work. There should be no need of physical meetings. Discuss issues online. The HQs mentioned should be manned round the clock by competent staff to give decision when sought for. The PM/CM should get daily briefing fro the respective HQs. This system and organisation can  be set by the Armed Forces.

    b. The funding required to rebuild lives and mean to live is  monumental. The call by UN for immediate assistance of $459m shows how little is the realization of the colossal damage suffered by Pakistan. There appears insensitivity of our predicament by the world. It may change after true picture is understood and other cause of inhibition is removed.

  • c. Our GDP is about $165bn. Per capita income is $1027. The middle class was about 36% in 2001 it has been gradually reducing. The people below poverty line are near 40%. It is clear that there is inequitable distribution of wealth in the country. Therefore the rich will now have the opportunity to distribute this hoarded wealth to earn the good feelings from the people here and reward in hereafter. If it is not done quickly it will be taken a way. That will be dangerous and consequences dreadful.
  • d.Reduce the sizes of cabinets to pre 71 levels. PM’s staff and privileges should also revert to same period. It will set an example. Disallow all discretionary powers of all. Stop distributing wealth collected from the poorest of the poor as has been criminally done. Minimise bureaucracy hence the government to the essential. Promoting and expansion of the establishment be undone. Personnel more than required make the system inefficient. As it is at the present. Competent and honest people are needed at every position. Superannuated officials should be replaced by competent personnel if efficiency is required. Merit must prevail.
  • e. Land holding of more tha12 ½ be taxed  outside the flood affected area at sliding rate from more than 12 ½  50 acre @ Rs5,000/ an acre, Rs 10,000/ unto 100 acre thereafter @ of Rs 20,000/ per acre.
  • f. Cattle from non affected area be taxed @ Rs 1000/ per buffalo/cow.
  • g. Housing and commercial properties located in non affected area in all cities should pay 50% of last assessed Property tax on houses commercial buildings.
  • h. Tax  on all vacant  and under construction  residential plots of more than 200 sq yd be charged @y Rs 50/ per sq yd and commercial plot  above 100 sq yds, @ Rs 1000/ per sq yd.
  • i. Term deposits in Banks & saving schemes of all types be taxed @ 3% for 1 year (or over) all deposits, 2% for six months old deposits. A single deposit less than Rs 50,000/ be exempt.
  • j. All business and industries in private and public sectors should pay @2% on company’s paid up capital plus reserve & accumulated profits. Banks and & Financial Institution shall 1% tax. It should be based on last Audit Report.
  • k. Every car owner of more than 1300cc to pay one time tax of Rs 5,000/ upto 2000cc. Cars upto 3000cc pays Rs 20,000. All luxury cars pay Rs50,000/ each. Cars and wagons plying without registration should be charged Rs 500,000/ and then registered.
  • l. Those who had their loans written off or defaulted, time for their reckoning is now. They should voluntarily return that money of the people or coercion should be resorted. The list has already been published it should now be widely circulated.  Let the people themselves decide.
  • m. The funds thus collected and that what may be available from the world donors must be saved from the government FBR. This should also be controlled and managed by foreign experts. It should be declared as the policy.  It will remove the  inhibitions due our honesty rating.
  • n. The above measure estimated to generate rupee on trillion. What returned from the written off loans will be additional.
  • o. The above is not all inclusive there could be many other areas that could be added to the list.  Effort has been made to burden the poor the least. No tax should made for perpetuity like many still continue.
  • The building of the infrastructure has also to be prioritised. As much as possible it should be done in parallel. The most important requirement is the restoration of communication to connect people. Concentrate on that  aspect at the earliest. The second is restoration of irrigation system. It is the life support for the people and the country It was already in a poor state of maintenance. It must now be in an unworkable state and will also have affect in the non flood affected area. A separate Task Force should be created to restore the gigantic network. It should start from the minor to major channels. The restoring the banks of canals, tributaries should be the first priority. As our experts have not even been able to maintain it therefore we should seek help from those who built it. There is a vast capacity with the farmers to accomplish the task. If they are paid honestly. In the process the unauthorised and illegal use of water by the powerful and the influential would be eliminated.
  • 13. The quantum of rain and water that entered Pakistan from all quarters should be calculated on every day bases. Its route marked showing all tributaries with estimate of its contribution. Follow through all the barrages with the quantum of flow at each. It should cover from day the deluge started  till it enters the sea  and flow returns to normal.
  • 14. During the period a number embankments were breached intentionally and some breaches took place due to water pressure. A thorough study of these breaches and affects thereby should be worked out. It has been reported that some influentials had the breaches made to save their properties.  It has also been reported that no maintenance of dykes had been carried out since these were raised. All these eventst must be enquired about. Further a number of gates of the barrages were not operational despite warning aplenty. These issues are to be investigated and some exemplary justice be dispensed with.
  • 15. This generation has suffered apparently because appropriate measures were not taken following 1929 flood.  What was done or planned after that flood must have been recorded. It is unthinkable that it would not have been done by the colonial rulers at that time. That should be traced. The British library should help. It could provide useful guidance. There is a possibility that the records of the floods since the creation of the country would also be available. These should be studied and compared what happened in 2010.  It should be ensured that record of this flood is carefully collated from all sources and preserved for posterity.
  • 16. Deduced from the records above a 3D computer model be made. From the model and the contours of the country a plan should be prepared to plan building of dams and dykes to save our future generation from such a calamity.
  • 17. It is only an outline based on my knowledge and experience of the floods in 1947 and in the 50s and what I observed in the present tragedy. It is a huge task. If feuding, looting, plundering and robbing the country stop the people of this country can display unimaginable achievements.
  • 18. While thinking of participating in the rehabilitation of the devastated parts of our country just thank Allah that He spared us. We could have been there and became destitute. About 1/6 of our brother and sisters have been affected. 5/6th should be able to take care of them. We should take the warning very seriously seek Allah’s forgiveness and help your people and the country.

Admiral Iftikhar A Sirohey is the former Chairman Joint Chief of Staff. During his career, he has held covetedappointments that went with rank and service structure.

He is very open and frank in expression of his views. His book ‘Truth Never Retires,’ is a must read to understand his personality and approach to life and the issues not sacrificing the basic moral and ethics.

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