Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

India, Pakistan can’t break the ice, even in hour of tragedy

August 22, 2010



Pakistan’s catastrophic flood continues to boggle the mind, both in terms of the human tragedy and the damage it has inflicted on a fragile, unstable country.  One official has likened the disaster to the cyclone that devastated what was once East Pakistan, setting off a chain of events that eventually led to its secession and the birth of Bangladesh.

Not even that spectre, raised by Pakistan’s ambassador to Britain, can however dent the steadfast hostility between India and Pakistan.   For a full three weeks as the floods  worked their way  through the spine of Pakistan from the turbulent northwest to Sindh in the south, Islamabad made frantic appeals to the international community not  to ignore the slow-moving disaster,  and instead help it with emergency aid, funds. But next-door India, best-placed to mount  a relief effort probably more because of the geography than any special skill at emergency relief, was kept at arm’s length. An Indian aid offer of $5 million, which itself came after some hesitation and is at best modest,was lying on the table for days before Pakistan accepted it.   ”There are a lot of sensitivities between India and Pakistan … but we are considering it very seriously,” a Pakistani embassy spokesman told our reporter in New Delhi earlier this week.  Things appeared to have moved faster only after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani expressing sympathy and reminding him of the offer of aid. Millions of Pakistans meanwhile continued to struggle for food.

To some extent, Pakistan’s hesitation in accepting aid from India is understandable. India is the traditional enemy. It is also the bigger country of the two. And over the last two decades it has become easily the more prosperous entity, courted by the world’s industrialists while Pakistan is “haunted by the world’s terrorists”, as columnist Vir Sanghvi writes in the Hindustan Times.   A Pew poll that we wrote about a few weeks ago showed how deep-seated these Pakistani fears are:  a majority of those polled said they considered India to be the bigger threat than al Qaeda or the Taliban, despite the violence they have suffered at the hands of the militant groups over the past few years.

As Sanghvi writes:

But, to be fair to the Pakistanis, let us accept the position that decades of hostility between our two countries have led to a situation where the Pakistanis simply do not trust us. Let us also accept that they are so resentful of India that even in their hour of greatest crisis when thousands of people have died and millions are homeless, they will still spurn India’s hand of friendship. And let us grant them their claim that given our history, they are justified in being suspicious of India.

  But then, you have to wonder, if the two nations cannot even keep up basic neighbourly ties such as offering aid and commiseration at times of natural crises, what chances they can ever come to a peace deal that will demand much more from them ?

It was pretty much the same in 2005 when the earthquake struck Pakistani Kashmir and the authorities struggled to provide aid to the affected.  And Indian aid offer was  initially ignored,  later blankets from India were accepted. But even then Pakistan had people cut out the label that read ‘made in India’ on each blanket.  

Indeed, some Pakistani writers are already criticising the government of bringing dishonour to the country by accepting Indian assistance. Commentator  Shireen M. Mazari  in a piece entitled “What Have We Become” says the Pakistani government accepted the Indian offer for help under pressure from the United States and that it was a matter of shame.  By taking Indian aid, Pakistan had let the people of  Kashmiri down just when they had risen in revolt against Indian forces.

“This money has the blood of Kashmiris on it and one wonders how our Kashmiri brethren must be feeling as they face the bullets of Indian forces every day and see us taking Indian “aid”,” Mazari wrote.

Kashmir, then,  can’t be far from any discourse relating to India and Pakistan. It is the core dispute  at the heart of 60 years of difficult ties, says Pakistan and must be resolved before any normalcy can take place. India doesn’t even consider the territory to be disputed, so the argument, at least in public, hasn’t changed much in over half a century. 

For the 20 million affected by the flooding in Pakistan, and facing a  future that would daunt any of us, Kashmir must, at the moment, be a distant thought.  



Writer should gave mentioned that after the Gujrat earthquake India refused an offer of assistance from Pakistan. But that was then, this is now. The scale of this disaster is far greater. Majority of Pakistanis do not support terrorism and would like to see improved relations with India. One thing India can do, which was suggested in a recent Times of India article, is to withdraw it forces from the eastern border to make it possible for the Pak army to disengage so it can assist in the relief effort.

Posted by Mir | Report as abusive

Pakistan is the only country that will put conditions before receiving any aid like for Americans they must give 2.5 billion dollars first before sending troops and essential aid for the poor.
If they get aid coming in on the gravi train there is no doubt that they will throw away Indian aid into the Indus river itself.
I don’t know why India bothers in thr first place.India will always get the mud thrown in the face regardless.


India is the worlds largest democracy, it is secular and has an inclusive society.
It has more Muslims citizens than Pakistan and its Democracy and economy is flourishing.

Pakistan continues to squander its resources on its huge military in its desire match Free Democratic India in every way.

80% of all terrorists plots in the world, originate in Pakistan. Pakistan has become not just India’s problem but the worlds problem.

The head of the Pakistani army was a former head of the notorious ISI known for their links to the Taliban.

Nothing can change in Pakistan as long as it does not embrace Democracy fully and reducing its huge behemoth army.

Posted by freeworld | Report as abusive

Pakistan’s suspicions stem from its own policy to cause mayhem and terror in India as a strategic policy and to let is poor improverished people know that India is the enemy – a systematic indoctrination of its people. Now if in their hour of need 5 million worth of food and aid flows into the villages would it not run contrary to what the Pakistani people have been told repeatedly by their militaristic government? That is the fear of accepting aid. Unfortunately they dont want the aid when their people are dying for political reasons – then it is quite clear that Pakistan does not have a democratic government which does not work for the interest of their people. The bigotry, hatred and terrorism that the Pakistani government makes it insensitive to the death of their own people.

Posted by Arvind Mathur | Report as abusive

Natural disasters are exasperated by decades of misrule and an inept government not just in Pakistan but all over the world. Until Pakistan does away with 17th century feudal land ownership, it will never progress.

World comes to aid whenever a disaster strikes, the inept government makes promises, never sees them through, international community goes away after few months or years and ineptitude returns and the poor is back to where they were, or even worse and the rich got richer in the process.

Why not establish accountability and pay only when progress is shown? It should be like a construction contract. No one gives the contractor all the money up front and hope the contractor doesn’t abscond with the money.

Posted by Ram | Report as abusive

‘Writer should gave mentioned that after the Gujrat earthquake India refused an offer of assistance from Pakistan.’

No it didn’t, India graciously accepted Pakistan’s aid. Get your facts straight. sia/1139807.stm

Posted by Mekeritrig | Report as abusive

Mir, your comment is factually incorrect. Musharraf offered aid at the time of the Gujarat earthquake and it was gratefully received by India - pcf/south/02/02/india.quake.02/

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

‘One thing India can do, which was suggested in a recent Times of India article, is to withdraw it forces from the eastern border to make it possible for the Pak army to disengage so it can assist in the relief effort.’

That would be nice, but the terrorists waiting to infiltrate India and cause havoc won’t disengage.

Posted by Mekeritrig | Report as abusive

This is a disaster that has shaken not only the country itself but also the world for the enormous damage and fury with which it struck.

There have been reports coming from pakistans northern areas of an emerging lake inundating villages that could endanger more areas if it was not managed. I dont know if the same lake is linked to this disaster but there is no doubt the country faces years of economic hardship of its people due to the damamge caused to the prime agricultuiral lands.

Pakistan will need good and transparent govermamnce and accountability of its relief efforts.There is no space for any laxity as Pakistans future depends this this disaster.

As for India’s role,Shireen Mazari’s opinion represents a sentiment that many Pakistanis would share due to the situation in Kashmir.

Posted by Abrar | Report as abusive

Allah has punished the Pakis for exporting terrorism around the world. No amount of Kafir money can reverse Allah’s judgment. They were asking for water and now they have all the water they want.

Posted by Allah | Report as abusive

pakistan is in its death throes. it may not die, but
it will never again be in a position to seriously misbehave with others.

obama is pro muslim. 25 percent of americans think he is
a muslim. he will be forced to abandon muslim countries.

let pakistan take care of themselves or die in the attempt.

Posted by lalit bai | Report as abusive

Pakistan should not have accepted the Indian aid. India is Helping with one hand while hiding a dagger in the other. 5 million from the worlds fastest growing economy…is peanuts!!! Shows the true intent. If Indians really cared they would have offered help in kind like Pakistan did.

Posted by umer | Report as abusive

@Allah..Funny thing I heard a counter argument with the same tone… that Mr Allah punished Sindhi’s for not sending their kids to war

@Umer… India should not have offered the aid in the first place. Now India has become a country which pays money to those who would invariably use it to kill her own people. Let us see how the ruling party defends this decision in their parliament.

@Others.. Heard the latest joke doing rounds!! Bad news is that 20% Pakistan is now under water. Worse news is that 80% is still above it

Posted by Ghulab | Report as abusive

After reading coments by indian thickheads,no wonder Pakistani’s treat indians as enemy #1.As these idiots are in forefront of condeming not only people of Pakistan and also our sacred religion of Islam,why should we accept their aid at all.Where are these people in the case of Kashmiri innocent kids are being killed,maimed and girls rapped by terrorist indian occupying army,concious to condenm these act of war?Or they blind to the facts.They could only have one mindset,condem Pakistan and Muslims as the terrorist only.If they are the worlds best democrates,then why can not accept the fact that indian army is the biggest terroist of the world.Be a man condem all terrorism in whatever form it is,then you will earn respect from others.Let us force india to give FREEDOM TO JAMMU & KASHMIR.Be fair and don’t think as an indian alone but think bad also for the attrocities commited by indian army in Kashmir and condem it as well

Posted by Sardar Khan. | Report as abusive

No wonder much of the western public who could help are reluctant to part with their cash. Feudal tribalism and religious bitch-slapping will be seen by historians as the biggest risk to the lives of 6 million Pakistani children in peril from water-borne disease.

Posted by PaulaL | Report as abusive

Natural disaster in the shape of flood or man made disaster in Kashmir both affect the innocents that needs help. Issues should be treated separately. Dragging Kashmir issue is not fair to the victims of the flood.

Posted by rehmat | Report as abusive

The recent two attacks have highlighted the incompetence of President Zardari’s government in the face of a growing militancy. but that attacks also indicate a new challenge, one bigger than any Pakistan has faced so far. can Zardari’s government face up to it? 5/pakistan-a-sorry-state/


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