A look at the flood relief and rehabilitation efforts by the armed forces
Since the onset of floods in Balochistan, and throughout their spread across the nation, the Pakistan Army has been at the forefront of relief and rescue efforts. In its attempt to help the affected population, the army has dispatched contingents of soldiers as rescue teams, disbursed ration items and ensured the drainage of water in submerged areas, where ever possible.
As part of the relief efforts, 82 helicopter sorties have been conducted using which 316 stranded individuals have been evacuated and almost 24 tonnes of ration has been delivered. At total of 3,540 ration packets and 250 tents have been distributed. As many as, 51 free medical camps have been established, which have successfully treated 33,025 patients. As many as, 217 relief items collection points have been establish in all formations area of responsibility for collection. A total of 123 tonnes of grains, including wheat, pulses and sugar, 5.9 tonnes of sustenance items, such as tents, quilts and cloths, as well as,0.15 tonnes of medicines have collected so far, along with other sustenance items such as clothes, solar lights and sleeping bags.
Following the devasting the floods inundating much of the country, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, began personally visiting many affected areas to personally oversee relief and rescue operations. The COAS has so far visited Swat, undertaking aerial reconnaissance of the efforts of Army troops at various locations including Kalam, Bahrain, Khwazakhela and Matta. Earlier, General Bajwa visited parts of Balochistan, including Bela and Uthal. The COAS intends to meet stranded locals and tourists who were stuck in the Swat valley, and were evacuated to through Pakistan army aviation helicopters to Kanju Cantt Swat. This included, several women, children and foreigners.
Furthermore, Karachi Corps Commander Lieutenant General Saeed Ahmed visited the flood affected areas of Larkana, Naushahro Feroze, Khairpur, Shah Jilani village and Qambar Shahdadkot. Rawalpindi Corps Commander Lieutenant Sahir Shamshad Mirza visited the far flung areas of Kohistan and met troops carrying out rescue and relief operations. Meanwhile, Peshawar Corps Commander Lieutenant General Hassan Azhar Hayat visited the flood affected areas in Swat Valley.
PAF’s Relief Efforts
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu, while taking stock of the deteriorating conditions of the flood affected areas has given instructions to enhance the PAF efforts towards an aggressive flood relief campaign. The CAS has also directed all bases to work in coordination with civil authorities to enhance intrinsic support for flood affectees. Additionally, a PAF Flood Relief Donation Account has been established to assist flood victims.
The Air Chief’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief campaign is aimed to be a targeted effort, in order to make it more effective and efficient by reaching out to affected people in far flung areas stranded due to severed land routes. All branches of the PAF have been directed to provide support for this campaign. A focal point has been established at Air Headquarters, Islamabad to monitor the efficiency of the relief operations. For effective management, three relief zones have been established under the Regional Air Commands, whereas more than 25 helicopters and eight C-130 aircrafts of the PAF Air Mobility Command are to be utilised to reach inaccessible areas. For this effort, an Air Support Bridge is being established. For a concentrated relief support, tent cities are being established at appropriate locations for the displaced individuals where they are being provided free food, shelter and medical facilities.
Furthermore, the Pakistan Air Force Women’s Association (PAFWA) being a welfare organisation has collected amounting to Rs14,083,883. It has also collected, 7,100 gents, 9700 ladies, 10,500 children’s clothing items, 3,400 winter clothing, 1,200 blankets and 1,000 beddings. Donations are being dispatched in flood relief camps established by the PAF at the flood affected areas throughout the country for further distribution among the needy. PAF help desk established at Disaster Relief Cell can be reached on 051-9260835 and 051-9262404 for any relief and rescue related information.
Help from Allies
In the country’s time of need, our allies have not failed us. To help flood victims, friendly countries have pledged support to Pakistan’s relief and rehabilitation efforts. In this regard, seven military aircrafts have arrived from Turkey at Karachi carrying relief goods, three military aircraft have arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at PAF Base Noorkhan in Rawalpindi. Two aircrafts have also reach Pakistan from China. Earlier, the UAE had contacted COAS General Bajwa, promosing 20 aircraft sorties and flood relief equipment to assist victims across the country. Meanwhile, Baharain has pledged one aircraft to help assist flood victims. Tarpaulins and shelters have reached Karachi from Japan, while Canada has pledged $5 million assistance, the UK has pledged £1.5 million and Azerbijan has announced $2 million.