As Pakistan moves into the rehabilitation and rebuilding phases after this year’s devastating floods, the obvious funding gaps for these critical activities become clear.The country was experiencing severe economic turmoil prior to the floods—and has yet to achieve fiscal balance—is certainly not helping.
Pakistan’s plight in this regard was brought up at the United Nations General Assembly, where Secretary-General António Guterres, who was recently in the country on a solidarity visit, told the world that “Pakistan is drowning, not only in floodwater but also in debt.”Regrettably, international appeals to assist Pakistan during this challenging time have yet to be met with a robust response.
According to a senior UNICEF official, less than a third of the $39 million needed for the country’s flood-affected children has arrived, while minors’ health, nutrition, and education needs will only grow. A US State Department official has also stated that the international community should do more to assist Pakistan, while American Senator Bob Menendez has described his country’s flood-related assistance to Pakistan as a “drop in the bucket.”
Furthermore, during a meeting with an EU delegation on Tuesday, Senator Mushahid Hussain referred to the EU’s assistance to Pakistan as “peanuts.”
Donor fatigue has clearly set in, and the amounts pledged and delivered to Pakistan are true “peanuts,” especially since the prime minister has stated that post-flood rehabilitation will cost “trillions” of rupees.
The cold, hard truth is that developed countries can spend billions of dollars on war but are extremely stingy when it comes to assisting developing countries in the aftermath of disasters. Both the US and the EU have poured billions of dollars into the Ukraine conflict, while America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost trillions of dollars. Despite this, both of these foreign actors have only contributed a few million dollars to Pakistan’s development.
It should be emphasized that Pakistan is not seeking charity, but rather justice, as the prime minister has stated. There is widespread agreement that climate change exacerbated the floods, and Pakistan has made little contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and is paying the price for others’ environmental negligence.
While the global economy may be slowing, our international allies can certainly do more to assist Pakistan in rebuilding. Furthermore, Pakistan’s elite must loosen their purse strings and assist their fellow citizens during this time of crisis.
The middle class is struggling and unable to contribute much due to economic stagnation; however, those with the means can undoubtedly make a greater contribution to the rehabilitation effort.
Foreign creditors should also take into account the UN Secretary General’s call for debt reduction and debt-swap mechanisms. Pakistan is currently unable to repay its massive debts, so the focus should be on rebuilding.