Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

The Islamists and the Great Flood of Pakistan

August 9, 2010
(Flood victims in Pakistan's Sukkur)

(Flood victims in Pakistan's Sukkur)

Pakistan’s floods are now considered to be more damaging than the massive earthquake that devastated its part of Kashmir in 2005, not least because of the inability of the administration to respond quickly to the crisis.  Pakistan is not alone in the region ill-prepared  to cope with natural disasters. Bigger, richer India is just as unable to either eliminate or limit the destruction that its bountiful rivers unleash each monsoon, and you hear the same chorus of criticism of government apathy. Bangladesh, too, gets more than its share of cyclones and floods each season, and yet successive governments are overwhelmed each time disaster strikes.

But the one difference in Pakistan is that Islamist charities, some believed linked to militant groups, are ready to step into the breach. And that is worrying a lot of people, as the flood waters sweep over Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, the province in northwest Pakistan which has been the main battleground in the fight against militants, down to the heartland province of Punjab and into Sindh.

The concerns centre on Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charity arm of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the  banned Pakistani militant group blamed for the 2008 attacks on Mumbai in which 166 people were killed. The Jamaat, which was banned by the U.N. Security Council last December, is working with Fatah-i-Insani Foundation, which is also suspectedof links to extremists, setting up relief camps and sending medical camps to the flooded northwest. It had also organised medical ambulances for emergency treatment, survivors said.

While foreign and government officials debate the security risks from venturing into the troubled northwest, the Islamists groups have penetrated even remote villages with ease, they said. As our correspondents report, they may not bring huge resources to bear, but they establish a presence in the affected areas, often setting up a canvas awning beside a road, with a banner appealing for donations and table covered with bottles and jars of basic medicine. At one village near the swollen Indus in Punjab province, our reporters saw workers of the Jamaat preparing food in huge pots over a smoky fire while four burqa-clad women sat at a charity medical post.

The New York Times said a brigade of 4,000 volunteers from Islamist groups was on the ground in Nowshera  to rebuild homes in villages far too dangerous for foreign aid workers to enter.

Is the Jamaat about to pull off another publicity coup  building on from its success in 2005 when it moved quickly to deliver aid to survivors of the Kashmir earthquake ? The  group then  had the most efficient response teams on the ground, and boasted the most functional and well-stocked relief camps. Its mobile X-ray machines and operating theaters made international headlines. Through their clever use of mobile technology, the group’s volunteers established an unparalleled communications infrastructure that facilitated relief work. The government and army, meanwhile, fumbled in early relief and reconstruction efforts, as charges of corruption in the distribution of aid and resources were rampant. For ordinary Pakistanis, the Jamaat had stepped in where others had failed, and they gave their full backing.

But this is also the group whose armed wing, the Lashkar-e-Taiba,  is accused of mass casualty attacks in Mumbai, and increasingly seen as a top threat to the West.  Brookings scholar Bruce Riedel wrote last month said that it was time Pakistan came clean on the Lashkar and its patrons in the Pakistani security establishment. “There is no excuse for not executing a  more robust crack down on Lashkar e Tayyiba and its front organizations from the Pakistani government and for not conducting a thorough house cleaning within the Pakistani army.” The truth about Mumbai and the future of the Lashkar was a ticking time bomb that could wreck the U.S.-Pakistan partnership, he warned.

But is Pakistan in a position to act against the group, even it wanted to, especially in the face of public support for it ?


It’s more than narrow mindedness that ‘timely relief support’ is looked upon with suspicion. If somebody undesirable could do this, it just reinforces the fact that govt. and multilateral machineries have failed miserably here. Though this may be defined as opportunism, it’s a pity that the advanced west and the UN are not able to fill up this gap. A more rational US/britian was expected to ‘utilize’ this to make up their lost images, which they built up as self centered oil hunters sneeking into others’ weapon houses looking for wmd.

Posted by Ninoj | Report as abusive

In Allah’s name
Peace of Islaam to all of you
The mujaahideen are part of Allah’s soldiers on earth. They dont need anyone to defend them. They will be praised each time someone try to demonise them. Here is another situation where Allah is showing their sincerity and hard work and that world cannot move without the mujaahideen.
I am with them and invite the world to join hand with the Mujaahideen.

Posted by raut | Report as abusive

What people, including the writer, fails to understand is that these so called ‘Islamists’ groups that are helping people are the people of that area itself. They are the locals, the civic minded and the rational voices that want the betterment of their land. They don’t hold any animosity towards countries thousands of miles away but only defend when attacked, a right held by every human being. They are the first ones to help because its their own neighborhood. Instead of encouraging people to help and show support, the prejudices of people go above the human suffering and play politics on someone else’s plight.

Posted by Bilal | Report as abusive

Do the international community and mostly the media expect non muslim organizations to be solely the one to help the needy in a muslim land? We have seen the debacle of the colonial army intrusion in the holy land of Pashtoons and the recent behaviour of the imbesil president of Pakistan, Swat and the rest of Pakhtoonkhwa had to be cleaned up by the clean water of the valleys and take the rubbish down towards the sea. Let us pray that the almighty is going to forgive those who have in recent period done nothing more than hineous crimes against the innocents within the country and followed the orders of the neocolonialists; the current Govt. has lost its legitimacy and should resign.
Rex Minor

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

great work done by jamat e islami and jamat ud dawa…


History is once again in making, but many have not yet learnt the message. ThePakistan army intrusion in the holy land has brought the wrath of God starting from swat right down to the homeland of punjabi dominated army elites and reaching as far as Sindh, where the story of Mohinjadaro has also been forgotten. The punishment fot the army now is to help the displaced people. Pakistan is likely to get a second chance to understand its own people and not follow the usual nonsense of living on charity of others. The europeans and particularly German people have shown their solidarity with the victims of Pakistan, without any strings. The USA administration is still involved in larrifari and their slogans writtenon the food packages is just another demonstration of how low the Nation has gone.
Rex Minor

Posted by Rex Minor | Report as abusive

peaceful country is under influenced by indian raw agency activities,american influence ,if we say only one enemy is india but india is the enemy of all surrounding countries that i want to say who is terrorist

Posted by mujeeb satti | Report as abusive

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