All the world's ills in one country

The flooding in Pakistan is the latest in a series of crises that have blighted the country.

    Sat on a riverbank in Sukkur, Sindh province - actually it's a hill but because of the flooding it feels like a riverbank - I get a chance to reflect on the state of Pakistan.

    All around me I can see water. Villagers use boats to ferry what belongings have been salvaged.

    Tiny trucks are loaded in the blazing heat as chickens roam free.

    Pakistan really does have it all. And, no that's not a tourist board slogan.

    All the world's ills in one country.

    War, natural disaster, political intrigue, military dictatorship, economic failure, fuel shortages, civil unrest, ethnic tension and illiteracy have all befallen this country at one point or another in the last five years. In many cases, it's been a mixture of a few of them all at one time.

    My driver's name in Sukkur is Bakhtar. A young man with curly hair and a moustache, he drives a colourful minivan.

    We stand and talk as wooden beds are loaded onto his tiny truck.

    "This is God's work. I don't know what we have done. But our country suffers like no other."

    He takes a drag on his cigarette and continues.

    "Bhai, (brother) look. My life is one hardship after another. No money, no home, no life ... and that was before the floods! What happens now is simply beyond me."

    Crisis to crisis

    He is typical of the many in Pakistan. Poor, ill-educated and with little prospects.

    There are 170 million people in this country. I would hazard a guess that very few of them have not been touched in some way or another by some crisis or another.

    The very rich can isolate themselves, but they are not immune. The very poor just push on, with God in their hearts.

    That this country lurches from crisis to crisis has not escaped international attention. What to do about that though, well that's a different matter.

    The Americans think a mixture of carrots - in the form of economic aid, and a stick - drone strikes - are one solution. The EU agrees.

    But Bakhtar knows nothing of international politics.

    "America, how can it help me? I am a small man. The rich get richer and I slowly die every day whilst no one notices." 

    He might be wrong there. The world's attention is focused on Pakistan right now.

    But is it focused on Bakhtar and the millions like him?

    I don't know. In the lobby of the rundown hotel I call home in Sukkur, journalists and aid workers congregate, swapping stories of woe.

    A UN worker notices us putting together a report on Sukkur's flood victims. As he glances at the edit on the computer screen he says, "Good. Make the bastards part with their money".

    To solve the flooding will take money, but solving the rest of the ills in this country, well that's another matter. Just which problem do you start with?

    Pakistan really does have it all.

    One day I will be able to write about the beaches, the snow-capped mountains, the rivers so clear you see the fish dart through the rock formations, the hills and valleys.

    Pakistan really does have it all.


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