South Asia

Pakistan Indus flood diary - day three

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAleem Maqbool takes a boat trip on the Indus in Punjab province

This week, the BBC's Aleem Maqbool is tracing the path of destruction wreaked by Pakistan's recent floods by travelling the length of the country on the mighty Indus river.

In his diary's third instalment, he visits Punjab province. Aleem will finish his travels in the southern province of Sindh.


Sitting in the middle of the Indus, in a boat with its engine turned off, felt for a moment like the most peaceful place in the world to be.

Looking out at the mountains in the distance to the west, and the tranquil waters, it was hard to believe that so recently this river had been the cause of so much destruction, misery and loss.

Image caption Hakim Khan is angry that there was no warning before the floods hit the area

But a glance at the riverbanks gave a chilling indication of just how brutal this waterway had been.

Litter and clothes hung high from the branches of the trees along the riverbanks, showing the incredible height the river had reached.

On both sides, we saw buildings that had been smashed into piles of bricks.

As we passed the village of Mari, our boatman Naseer Aman pointed up a slope to where his home had been. There was nothing left.

But Naseer told us that he was grateful that he was able to save his four children and that he still had a job, when so many others had lost their livelihoods.

Beyond Mari, to the south and east, were endless stretches of what had been valuable agricultural land.

We travelled by road to the outskirts of the town of Mianwali, where we met Hakim Khan.

"I have over 100 acres (40 hectares) of farmland," he says. "Never in 60 years have I seen any of it flood at all. This year, the entire lot was under several feet of water, and it stayed like that for many days."

Mr Khan was angered that there was no warning before the floods inundated the area. After all, it was not fresh rains here that caused most of the problems, it was the huge volume of water that had fallen in the north of the country surging south.

"Nobody in leadership in this country has the ability to plan properly or to be decisive. Forget the fact no flood prevention projects were here, they couldn't even tell us water was heading our way when it took days for it to reach here from the north," he says.

Image caption The cotton crop was nearly ready to harvest but was washed away

Throughout the day, people told us government aid in this area was being distributed unfairly. One person after another told us they felt supporters of local politicians were getting the money instead of those in most need.

But as we saw little assistance at all being handed out here, it was difficult to verify their claims.

What has been clear throughout this journey is that, for whatever reason, many are missing out on help.

Coming to northern Punjab and hearing of people's tales of shock here has been a reminder of how the whole country seemed to have been caught unaware when this region was struck by the floods a few days into the crisis.

Until then, the focus had been on places like Swat and Charsadda in the north, where the heaviest rains had fallen.

It was only when villages like Mari and areas close to Mianwali were hit by the massive torrents that people living for hundreds of miles down the Indus seemed to realise this was going to be their problem too.