Heroes and heartbreak in Pakistan's flood waters

In the absence of government help,

    They say a week is a long time in politics.

    Well in Pakistan that's certainly true ... but instead of a change in political fortune, Pakistan's government is just getting, to use a word common in South London, hammered.

    The government's critics mount a chorus. Sometimes it feels like a million voices, all in condemnation, fight to be heard. 

    In the interest of good journalism, I will tell you the government line.

    "We are trying our hardest."

    Nowhere is the government's inability to cope with this disaster more visible than in the interior of Sindh, in Pakistan's south.

    The sun blazes high in the noon sky, only highlighting the misery faced by people.

    All around me I am surrounded by a sea of lives wrecked by flooding.

    Everywhere I turn, someone, male or female, young and old, holds out their hand and asks for help.

    I feel pathetic. Like a man who has been given a front row seat to the world's biggest misery.

    You see, I can't offer immediate help. I come not with a truck full of aid, medical supplies, food or water.

    I cannot diagnose the mysterious rashes that have appeared on the skins of children so young they can barely open their eyes.

    I only have a camera. I know the argument, that by shining a light into the most darkest places a camera can spur governments into action.

    But when a child tugs on your hand, asking for help, that reasoning goes out the window.

    I feel like a wretch. I can only be in awe of men like Hamir Soomro. He is of Shikarpur. A self described son of the soil.

    For days now, in the absence of government help, he has been fundraising, organising food drops, buying up as many tents as he can find and getting aid to those that need it the most.

    "We have to do this, no one else is," he says.

    Like I say, I am in awe of him.

    He comes from the biggest landowning family in the area. He picks up the phone and gently coaxes money from his friends and family.

    In turn, others flock to him to lend a hand. It's quite a sight.

    Rehaan is another volunteer doling out aid. I ask him where his government is? He takes a deep breath, looks around and offers a few words.

    "You tell me. They are nowhere," he says.

    I have covered countless tragedies across the world. Bombings in Afghanistan, the plight of Palestinians, the aftermath of mass suicide attacks in London, and of course Pakistan.

    But the sheer scale of this has shocked me. I am not alone.

    Hamir perhaps puts it best. "We are in an incredible situation, these are life changing times, for us all," he says.

    "For the poor who will be made further destitute, and for us who are fortunate to survive."
    As we speak, men wade through water that's chest high. I can see flood waters as far as the eye can see.

    More rain is expected.


    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.