This website is about the GOAN Christian Community of Pakistan. Every Goan has ancestral roots in Goa, India, formerly a Portuguese colony. All Goans of Pakistan are predominantly Catholic. Although the 'Christian Community of Pakistan' has contributed immensely to nation-building; this endeavor is solely dedicated to researching, highlighting and archiving the GOAN community's historical background, cultural heritage, significant achievements and contribution to Pakistan, before and after independence.

 
Floods in Pakistan calling Goans…


August 24, 2010 - God’s wrath has befallen Pakistan. We are in the midst of a catastrophic disaster, one of the biggest natural calamities in recent human history. The devastation is so extensive that it has taken away an estimated 2000 plus lives, swept away a million homes, made 2.5 million people homeless and left more than 3 million hungry!

This is a global appeal calling the Pakistani Goan Diaspora in all parts of the world to read through this overview of the massive human suffering and displacement in Pakistan and make any effort possible to contribute towards medical supplies and other life-saving drugs. Your efforts may be channelized through various international aid agencies that are already working in Pakistan – Unicef, Oxfam, International Red Cross, Christian Aid, Mercy Corp., World Food Organization and others.

The people of the northern areas of Pakistan are quite accustomed to harsh weather conditions, heavy snowfalls, landslides, breakaway glaciers, hailstorms and the annual rainfall. It’s a way of life. But this year has been different, overwhelming and tragic too!

On July 28, 2010, bad weather forced a passenger airliner (Air Blue ED-202) to crash into Islamabad’s wooded area, minutes before approaching the runway, killing all 152 people on board. A week later came the incessant rains, the melting of snow-covered mountains in the Karakoram Range and the swelling of rivers that flow into the Indus and its tributaries – it has not stopped since!

Firstly, the flood waters ravaged through the regions of Khyber Pakhthunkhwa (formerly NWFP) destroying people’s homes and displacing thousands of rural folks to safer but inaccessible areas. A few days later the water levels in the Ravi and Sutlej rose to alarming heights breaching dykes and flooding the lush green fertile fields of Punjab, and finally entering Sindh to wreak havoc on the people of interior Sindh.

According to recent estimates (Wikipedia), floods in Pakistan have damaged an estimated 2,433 miles of highway and 3,508 miles of railway, 17 million acres of fertile crop land has been submerged, including over 700,000 acres of lost cotton crops, 200,000 acres of sugar cane and 200,000 acres of rice, in addition to the loss of over 500,000 tonnes of stocked wheat, 300,000 acres of animal fodder and stored grain losses. More than 200,000 livestock were killed in the Punjab alone.

The great flood, worst in 80 years, swallowed everything that came in its way, homes, schools, markets, bridges and roads, animals, settlements on both sides of river banks, crashing through dykes and roaring past barrages with speeds in excess of 900,000 cusecs’. The reservoirs at Tarbela and Mangla Dams and other smaller ones overflowed and suddenly, there was a cry for the Kalabagh Dam – a damned project since partition for no good reason.

Sindh has been perilously devastated, more than 35% of the province is inundated with water and the breakaway tide is threatening the cities of Sukkur, Jacobabad, Khairpur, Thatta, Larkhana and Hyderabad. Notwithstanding, the impending danger, the barrages – Guddu, Sukkur (formerly Lloyd) and Kotri – have to a great extent ‘saved’ the province from complete destruction.

There is an interesting piece of information about the planning and constructing of these famous barrages of Pakistan, formerly in the Sindh district of undivided India. These structures are masterful projects, pure engineering excellence considering the time and era they were built in. It is believed some Goans were involved in these projects and played a pioneering role in building these formidable salvos for the Pakistan of the future – and here we are today, the truth and reality is at our doorsteps!

Here is an excerpt taken from the book “Karachi – Megacity of Our Times” by Hamida Khuhro and Anwer Mooraj and published by the Oxford University Press in 1997 on the occasion of the 50 Years of Pakistan (1947 – 1997).

In the section on ‘The Founding Fathers of Modern Karachi’ – Chapter 5 (Page 126) the book reveals: “Mr. Cincinnatus F. D’Abreo (1856 – 1925) was one of the ‘Twelve Leaders of Sindh’ who lobbied for the government sanctioning and construction of the Lloyd Barrage and Canals at Sukkur. These plans to irrigate Sindh had been drawn up in 1912…the scheme was finally pushed through due to vocal Sindhi demands and completed in 1935 – it transformed the entire agriculture, trade and economy of Sindh.”

I am told there were some Goan engineers who worked on this project at the time of its construction, prominent being the Sindhi-speaking Mr. Frank D’Abreo whose name appears in the Lloyd’s museum in close proximity of the barrage. (Any known information on this subject would be welcomed with due credits at menin100@gmail.com )

Coming back to the floods, Pakistan is not geared up to handle such a major human disaster - it is of enormous proportions. Its magnitude in terms of loss of lives, property and displacement of people is more alarming than what happened during the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, the 2006 Pakistan Earthquake, 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean and the 1998 Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans – combined!

Relief efforts are under way, scores of people (young and old), companies (local and foreign), non-government organizations, aid agencies, charitable & welfare societies and humanitarian groups, and thousands of volunteers are doing all that is possible. Political parties are also doing their song and dance. Road side collection of ration and clean drinking water, clothes, medical supplies and life-saving drugs, are a common site everywhere; neighborhoods have set-up ‘relief camps’ outside their homes, apartment blocks. There is concern and succor from the people of the country, everyone is shocked and doing whatever is possible but this tragedy is beyond anyone’s grasp – it needs serious global attention, yours and mine!

From a health perspective, children are among the worst hit, there is possibility of spread of an epidemic, diseases and water-borne ailments abound the camps. Malaria, pneumonia, typhoid, measles, skin infection, gastroenteritis, vomiting, mal-nutrition and diarrhea are being treated in thousands at medical camps spread allover in the flood-hit areas. There is an acute shortage of doctors and medical teams.

There is no civil organization in the country capable of managing the disaster or reaching the people who are in distress – it is difficult and therefore, nobody can be blamed. The army, navy and the air force are the only units that can reach people who are marooned – by boats, hovercraft and helicopters. In Sindh alone, it is reported that 124 helicopters and 43 C-130 aircraft are taking part in the relief operations. According to UN reports, 4 million people have been saved and taken to safer places and camps where temporary shelters have been erected, food is prepared and distributed; but there is chaos and commotion everywhere!

Politically, there is no sign of a unified command. Politicians are on a spree – it’s a plethora of photo-ops! More and more committees are being formed, each one making a plea for global aid, financial in particular! It has been slow by all counts; there is an apparent mistrust on where and how the funds will be used, both by the comity of nations, donor agencies and philanthropists too! Its bad news for Pakistan and its leadership, but there is God, and thus, there is Hope!

People, particularly in the southern province of Sindh, are traumatized, on one hand their homes have been swept away, cultivated land submerged in rising waters, crops shattered and they have no clue of the whereabouts of their near and dear ones. Everyday there is anguish and despair but they are defiant and will not loose hope.

Some villagers are staying behind, spending days and nights on dangerous rooftops, clinging to their meager belongings on tree trunks and branches, in the hope that water will recede and they would be able to start their lives again. They are scared but also want to stay back on their properties, their ‘homes’ – their only possession, and hoping that the Almighty will have pity on their plight and rescue them from damnation.

These people have done nothing wrong but ‘death, destruction and desolation’ has befallen them. Such is the mystery of life!
 

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