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Is Pakistan’s tragedy less worthy than that of other countries?

According to some reports, the number of people directly affected by the massive floods in Pakistan is greater than those affected by the 2004 tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined.  That’s somewhere between 14-20 million people, depending on the source.

We’re not talking about those who’ve already been killed - estimated at somewhere around 1600 to date - but those people who will need some kind of direct assistance in order to survive; those threatened with immenent disease, lack of food and shelter, schooling, electricity and medical intervention that the floods have brought in their wake.

Within ten days of the Haiti earthquake, more than 740 million dollars came pouring in with an additional 920 million dollars pledged.  The UN called for for 460 million dollars for Pakistan, but so far not much more than half that amount has come in and the money that’s been pledged is not materializing as fast as the needs on the ground.  Somehow the wellspring of international support that was tapped during the tsunami and Haiti’s earthquake is just not being tapped.

Is it because Pakistan has been branded as the world’s Terrorist HQ?  The reason why clean cut army boys from rich western nations are dying in Afghanistan?  Because donors don’t believe in the integrity of a government lead by Widower in Chief, Mr Ten Percent Zardari?

They are ugly questions, but if they’re rattling around in my head, what must the average Pakistani villager stranded for days in Swat Valley, or in my ancestral homeland of Sindh be thinking as the days pass and the hunger and need grows?

1 Comment on “Is Pakistan’s tragedy less worthy than that of other countries?”

  1. #1 David Berridge
    on Aug 25th, 2010 at 3:20 am

    The “ugly” questions are the most accurate definitions of the snail’s pace of aid to the Pakistan flood victims. After British PM David Cameron’s speech recently in India on Pakistan as a full-fledged supporter of Terror (this coming on the heels of a military aircraft sale to India), the line between the proverbial ‘ good snd bad guys’ was officially clearly delineated.(In fact, I’m surprised that Cameron’s speech was not itself a topic for this blog.) On top of the Wilkileaks revelations which have gained great currency in the West, a negative response to Pakistan, floods or no floods, has become an inevitabilty. Pakistan’s crippling image problem abroad has been compounded by this phenomenal natural disaster, and complaints by such Western nations as the United States that previous foreign aid efforts to Pakistan and Afghanistan, have yielded no real benefits in the struggle for “hearts and minds”. The worst possible disaster has come at the worst possible time for Pakistan, whose stance and previous policies in foreign affairs have left it all too highly vunerable when it comes to international goodwill in times of disaster. In all fairness to the UK, after Cameron’s speech, the people there have demonstrated and acted upon, the humanitarian will to give help to Pakistan, but the government of Pakistan must in return demonstrate the proper conduct to reciprocate this assistance. Turning over Osama Bin Laden to the Americans at a reward value of $25 million US, would be an excellent start to leverage billions more in foreign aid.

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