Pakistan: A Flood of Political and Economic Disaster

In a country that has already suffered political instability, poverty, and now one of the greatest natural disasters in history—Pakistan is unfolding a tragedy affecting millions of people both inside and outside its borders.

According to the United Nations, the recent floodwater triggered by extra-heavy monsoon rains have now classified 8 million people as needing urgent humanitarian relief, and has destroyed the homes of 4 million Pakistanis. Unfortunately, these incredible numbers are still rising, and with 2 weeks left in the Monsoon season, they are expected to grow. The floods have not only devastated properties over 15 million people, but have claimed the lives of over 1600 Pakistanis—with a promised aftermath of disease and starvation that will likely affect millions more.

A shadow has been cast over the country, and the effects of this natural disaster will be felt for years: in Pakistan and around the world. The fact of the matter is, the flooding may have occurred in one country, but countries everywhere will be facing the repercussions of the event.

Pakistan will be experiencing the main devastation; before the floods, the country was the center of political unrest, and was battling against an Islamic-extremist landscape that housed Taliban and militant activities. Their already fragile government and infrastructure will now be subject to citizen anger and unrest due to the slow relief-efforts and lack of aid. In addition, the disaster has presented itself as a perfect opportunity for terrorist groups to recruit members who now find themselves displaced, hungry, and angry. British Prime Minister David Cameron commented that Pakistan would be “exporting terror,” a comment that has stopped many fearful people from providing aid to the country.

In addition to the political mess created, the floods have wreaked economic havoc throughout the nation. Punjab Regional Assembly member Mohsin Leghari stated that Pakistan’s “Crops have gone, their livestock has gone, the infrastructure, the roads are gone.” Beginning loss estimates have reported that 2010 GDP growth could be as low as zero percent, inflation could reach 25 percent, and the loss of cotton (the main crop of Pakistan) could be about 25 percent.

The problem is, with all these political and economic tribulations occurring overseas, not many realize the devastation these floods will cause around the world—especially in the United States. In 2009, Pakistan imported 16.1 billion dollars from the US, and with their current situation, that number will drop very significantly. The decrease in the amount of exports Pakistan will now produce will also affect the global economy as the price of textiles (their #1 export) and rice products will soar, due to the lack of Pakistani supplies and cheap labor.

In addition, the United States will feel the impact of the aid sent to the Pakistani government. A total of $150 million US dollars have been sent in relief efforts—sparking both criticism and approval from officials and citizens. Many believe that the aid is simply money that America does not have to spend (especially on another country), while others like John Kerry believe it’s an investment in our future. Kerry told reporters that, “We don't want additional jihadists [and] extremists coming out of a crisis,” and believes that sending food, water, and supplies to Pakistan will prevent terrorists from recruiting members in this dire situation. Not only that, but the US is trying to maintain good relations with the Pakistani government, establishing good terms with a country that shares a border with Waziristan, a terrorist base.

The bottom line is, the flooding tragedies may be occurring far away from home, yet the impact will be strongly felt in the United States and around the world. Something must be done, and quickly, to prevent a complete breakdown of the Pakistani economy and government—and in turn maintain order everywhere.

Thanks to Flickr for the photo.