The number of people affected by the floods in Pakistan has now reached 20 million. More than 650,000 houses have collapsed, mainly in villages. Thousands of hectares of crops have been destroyed, along with people's livestock, household goods, clothes, shoes and other essential items. Millions are without drinkable water, food, shelter and clothing. Diseases like flu, fever, diarrhea and cholera are spreading fast.
Now more torrential rains are forecast. This is one of the most devastating floods in human history, affecting more people than the South East Asian tsunami and the Kashmiri and Haitian earthquakes combined. Yet aid has been slow in coming - so far less than $4 committed per affected person.
The impact of the floods is an indictment of how the capitalist system works - in Pakistan, and worldwide. The government of Pakistan's corrupt capitalist elite predictably failed to act with the necessary swiftness and commitment, leaving tens of thousands of people without aid. Only after a day did it arrive at the makeshift camps with paltry amounts of food. The result was fighting breaking out, making things even worse for desperate people. Meanwhile the big capitalist powers have not put their money where their mouths are.
There is absolutely no doubt that Pakistan's large and growing Islamist movement will be taking advantage of the floods to organise, stepping into the gap the Pakistani state has left. Swat, where the floods began, is a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban.
That makes it all the important that socialist and labour movement activists internationally support the alternative aid efforts being organised by the Pakistani left. The Labour Relief Campaign, launched in 2005 after a devastating earthquake killed 100,000, has launched an emergency fundraising appeal. Its sponsoring organisations including the Progressive Youth Front, Women Workers' Help Line, Labour Education Foundation, National Trade Union Federation and the socialist organisation Labour Party Pakistan. It has raised hundreds of thousands of rupees and is raising thousands more every day.
Support the appeal!
● Labour Relief Campaign account details for fund transfers: Labour Education Foundation; account number: 01801876. Route: Please advise and pay to Citibank, New York, USA Swift CITI US 33 for onward transfer to BANK ALFALAH LTD., KARACHI, PAKISTAN A/C No. 36087144 and for final transfer to BANK ALFALAH LTD., LDA PLAZA, KASHMIR ROAD, LAHORE, PAKISTAN. Swift: ALFHPKKALDA for A/C No. 01801876 OF LABOUR EDUCATION FOUNDATION.
● For further information please contact: Khalid Mahmood, Labour Education Foundation, ground floor, 25-A Davis Road, Lahore, Pakistan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone: 0092 42 6303808 or 0092 42 6315162. Fax: 0092 42 6271149. Mobile: 0092 321 9402322.
● Australian readers can donate via the Australian trade unions' aid agency APHEDA here.
● For more information see the website of the Labour Party Pakistan: www.laborpakistan.org
The No Sweat Fest raised £800 for Labour Relief. £291 was collected at the memorial meeting for AWL comrade Pat Longman on 11 September.