Helping Pakistan; not if, but how

August 14, 2010

morefloodsOutside President Asif Ali Zardari’s political rally in Birmingham last weekend, I chatted to a middle-aged woman passing by about the floods in Pakistan. “I have every sympathy for Pakistan and the Pakistanis, but he is not helping them much, is he?” she said. Another woman asked me to explain why it was that the  protesters were not focused on the floods but demonstrating “about all sorts”.  Inside the rally, a young British Pakistani who had recently returned from a visit to his family home in Kashmir complained about negative stereotyping in the media of Pakistan that had reduced a country of some 170 million people to “a terrorist threat”.

If there is a common thread to the relatively slow western response to one of the worst catastrophes in Pakistan’s history, it is a sense of confusion, not about whether to help, but how to help. That, and the dehumanising impact of stereotypes - corrupt politicians, angry bearded protesters, suicide bombers to name but a few – that obscure the impact of the floods on the very real people – 14 million of them - affected by the disaster.

In the short term, the weak civilian government has been slammed for failing to come up with a clear plan to address the immediate needs of those hit by the floods. Nor has it provided the leadership that might rally all institutions and people behind it. The result has been that the Pakistan Army, long the country’s most efficient and effective national institution, has stepped in to fill the void, leading efforts to rescue flood victims.  Meanwhile, as Pakistani politicians squabbled amongst themselves and flew into disaster-hit areas with an eye for photo-ops, and as Zardari travelled abroad to France and Britain, the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa – the humanitarian wing of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group - quietly moved in to help, as it did in the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. 

The United States, along with other countries, has been ratcheting up its aid efforts, offering financial assistance totallling $76 million and sending military helicopters for relief and rescue operations. However, I can’t help but feel a bit uneasy when this is presented in terms of vying for influence with Islamist charities like the Jamaat ud-Dawa. This may be partially true, but it is also part of the same dehumanising process, as though the flood victims are no more than “hearts and minds” to be won over, rather than people facing death from hunger and disease.  International and Pakistani NGOs are doing what they can – although for those who want to help, it can be hard for outsiders to work out which charity best deserves donations (inside Pakistan, the Edhi Foundation is widely respected.)

But if understanding how to alleviate the short-term crisis is hard enough, the question of how to help Pakistan in the long term is even more perplexing.  The damage to its fragile economy is likely to be felt not just this year – the World Bank says $1 billion in crops have been lost - but in grain sowings for food supplies in the future.  The impact on society in a country already struggling to find its feet in a battle against Islamist militancy is yet to be fully understood, although popular anger against the government over its response to the floods does not bode well. Add to that  the disorientating impact of climate change – and scientists are still arguing about how much the floods in Pakistan and drought in Russia are due to global warming – and the need to bolster Pakistan’s defences in the future against water crises (both shortage and excess) and you have a reconstruction challenge which would defy even the strongest of governments.

At a crude level, Pakistan needs better water management, better irrigation and a reversal of the deforestation which has been widely blamed for exacerbating the flooding.  Deforestation has a double impact. Firstly there is nothing to slow flood waters and mudslides. Secondly,  it contributes to soil erosion, silting up river waters so that dams and levees downstream are even less able to contain the impact of unusually heavy monsoon rains. Pakistan’s forests have been ravaged by an illegal timber mafia, often working in league with corrupt local politicians. Reversing that process is both an obvious need and - as with so many obvious needs in Pakistan - a political nightmare.

The economy itself might actually tick up slightly. Natural disasters are often followed by a reconstruction boom. But reconstruction which does not take account of the need for sustainable development would leave Pakistan exposed to more natural disasters in the future, particularly if uneven monsoons combine with faster melting of the Himalayan glaciers which feed its rivers. Reconstruction which exacerbates income disparities and feeds corruption will tug even harder at the country’s fragile social fabric.

And that brings us to the question of who is going to manage the reconstruction and the inflow of foreign aid.  In an editorial in Dawn newspaper, Cyril Almeida worries that financial rescue from the west may be even worse than the original problem if it encourages a desire – particularly among Pakistan’s overseas backers – for a return to the apparent efficiency of military rule.

There is no real hint of that right now – the army has shown no interest in taking over the running of the country as long as it can control foreign and security policy from behind the scenes. It benefits from having a civilian face supporting it in what is effectively a civil war against Pakistani Taliban militants.  It needs civilian institutions to try to fill the gap with administration and services after it clears areas of Taliban control. And for Pakistan as a whole, the benefits of democracy and its ability to devolve power to the provinces are often presented as a better way of keeping the country together than through military rule, which tends to revolve around a centralising authority. Most reckon that an end to civilian democracy would be a disaster for the country in the long term.

Yet the cycle of civilian-military rule forms a familiar pattern in Pakistan.  People are usually glad to see military dictators go, and yet after a period of unsuccessful civilian rule, many welcome the army back with relief – as happened when former president Pervez Musharraf seized power in a coup in 1999.  In his early years in power, he appeared to hold out great promise of reform although this dissipated over time.

“1999-2002 wasn’t very long ago,” writes Almeida. “Many remember it fondly, for its attention and commitment to reform. Why green-light another bailout for a tried-and-failed lot that will just kick the reform ball down the road again? Why not just fold and walk away from a swaggering Zardari? Zardari may be too arrogant to care about the media response here, but the scorn heaped on him by the western media will have send chills down the spines of his smarter (!) advisers.  They know the West’s demand for reform is greater than its love for democracy here.”

In a reversal of the “do more” mantra repeated to Pakistan by the west looking for greater action against Islamist militants, Pakistan is asking foreign countries to “do more” to help it cope with the floods. But the question is not really whether western countries will help – they have too much at stake, from a war going badly in neighbouring Afghanistan to concerns about instability in nuclear-armed Pakistan, to refuse. The question is how.

Comments

Someone is trying to post under my name. Moderators, please note – the account prasadgc1 is not mine.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

> (somehow my previous account not working)

That’s a dead giveaway. I like to think my English is better than that :-) .

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

@”Someone is trying to post under my name. Moderators, please note – the account prasadgc1 is not mine.”
Ganesh Prasad

Looks like somebody (or entity) is trying to sabotage Indo-Pak peace efforts, yet again! :)

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

If some Pakistanis think that comments by Indians are mean, they should look at what the world is saying (scroll down on this link & read the comments section):

http://world-news.newsvine.com/_news/201 0/08/16/4902059-flood-victim-pakistan-tr eating-us-like-dogs?pc=25&sp=0#discussio n_nav

My intention behind providing the above link is not to rub it in but rather to make Pakistanis realize what the global reputation of your country is, thanks to the self-destructive ways of your military establishment. It’s time for you to wake up & work towards repairing that image, by wiping out all terrorism from your soil & becoming a moderate & progressive society.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

Mortal1,

The link you posted had some truly callous and shocking comments. In fact, I was sickened after a point and stopped reading. How sad that the actions of a (relatively) small group of fanatics has rebounded on 20 million destitute people.

Thanks again for the reminder to contribute. I have decided to contribute a certain amount each month for the next few months, because this is not a one-off disaster but a continuing one. I understand that the floods have created 6 million orphans. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

GP,
“The link you posted had some truly callous and shocking comments. ”

This is not the only link. I must question the approach of Pakistani commentators trying to secure aid. For example, in this article (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ws/asia/pakistan/7941820/Pakistan-floods -an-emergency-for-the-West.html ), Ahmed Rashid claims that this is actually an emergency for the West since Taliban may take over! Predictably, this hasn’t gone down well with any of the readers. I would advise forum members to take my word for it and to not read the cruel and downright vicious responses in the articles feedback.

Another example of such mis-judgement can be seen in the Guardians article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree  /2010/aug/13/pakistan-labelled-bombs-bu rqas-unfair) which tries to shame it’s readers into donating and tries to show Pakistan in a good light by skewering India! Again, the response is predictable.

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive
 

Apparently, the Pakistani government is still “considering” the Indian aid offer.

Wow, that seems to be a really hard problem! What should they do??? Can someone help them make up their minds?

Sort of like the USSR refusing US aid under the Marshall Plan after World War II. Ideology is far more important than human life and suffering, it would seem.

According to this article (http://bit.ly/9r1gA1), India’s initial offer of just $5 million is to test the waters. If Pakistan responds favourably, India will donate more. That makes sense given Pakistan’s contemptuous treatment of Indian aid during the 2005 earthquake (letting food rot at the border, ripping off the Made in India tags before distributing aid, etc.) Even now, they seem to want Indian aid to be routed through the UN rather than be made available directly.

All I can say is, this is a really callous leadership that doesn’t have the best interests of their people at heart.

From the article,

“Sources said the government has already begun preliminary work on an assistance package with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) which is resource-rich, and would even be willing to route the assistance through the UN if that’s what Pakistan wants.

But it feels the bilateral approach is better because given the short distances, India would be able to reach assistance much faster to the affected areas in Pakistan. In fact, India is even willing to be the source country for assistance material for other countries, multilateral organizations helping out Pakistan, even NGOs.

[...]

During the civil war in Sri Lanka, India had sent across family-packs that contained everything for a family for a specific time period. In Afghanistan, India supplies fortified biscuits which could be a good source of nutrition for children in Pakistan right now.”

Will Pakistan allow India to fly supplies directly to where it is needed, or will it prefer to let its own people die rather than grant air access to the “enemy”? Courage is not just the ability to face enemy troops in battle. It takes courage to once again venture help to someone who has never been gracious in the past, and it also takes courage to trust someone who is offering to help you.

India has passed the test of courage. Let’s see if Pakistan does.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

@”All I can say is, this is a really callous leadership that doesn’t have the best interests of their people at heart”

It’s a shame that at a time when Pakistan’s flood victims need all the help they can get, their leadership chooses to play politics. They would rather have children die of starvation than let them eat rotis made of wheat given by India. The world seems indifferent to Pakistan’s crisis & India could be saving a lot of Pakistani lives right now but unfortunately, it’s hands are tied. Since the Pakistani army is in-charge of their country’s foreign policy, I believe this is their decision, rather than that of the civilian govt. I was a Pakistani, I would be really mad right now & demand that my govt, let’s go of the enimity at this time of need & accept all the help it can get.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

@Apparently, the Pakistani government is still “considering” the Indian aid offer.
–Ganesh

–Our Pakistani friend Umair has already decided that Indian aid must be rejected.

Pakistan must know that India may or may not be an existential threat to Pakistan, but Pakistan’s DUMB WAYS of rejecting Indian aid is sure an existential threat to some of the sufferers.

Do these these politicians and Pakistanis like Umair sitting dry really think that people neck deep in water have time to worry about the source of aid?

Damn it just take it and get it to the needy!!

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Check this too:

http://views.washingtonpost.com/post-use r-polls/2010/08/are-you-donating-to-help -pakistan.html?hpid=talkbox1

If you have donated, vote on that poll. Currently 70% people say they don’t plan on donating mainly for “other” reasons.

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive
 

I never cease to be amazed at the conspiracy theories that gain currency in our esteemed neighbour.

We joked about this at some stage, but it’s now come true. Some Pakistani media groups now blame India for the floods!

http://bit.ly/d6ksqV

Of course, then all of India’s offers to help are just crocodile tears and Pakistan should refuse.

The world needs to donate and urgently fly psychiatrists into that nation…

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

What is strange is that even countries whom Pakistani people believe as hostile…India (whose help was refused), USA and even Afghanistan have come forward to help…but why not China whom one would have thought would do the maximum for its best ally?

There is nothing which teaches you more sense then even your best friends abandoning you. The Pakistanis must learn from this silent lesson from the wise Chinese people.

Posted by voyager39 | Report as abusive
 

The floods seemed to have changed mindsets in Pakistan. This is very good news. I think there is tremendous room for building relations back between the two countries:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world  /pakistan/Flooded-Pak-sings-new-tune-on -India-battles-trust-deficit-for-world-a id/articleshow/6326267.cms

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

I’ve a question for all those who used to talk about tough economic sanctions for Pakistan few weeks back.

Haven’t the floods created similar kind of administration challenges for Pakistan government that you hoped to achieve for curbing this rogue nation? The state of utter helplessness and anarchy that these floods could potentially create in Pakistan, is the same that your “proposed” economic sanction and international alienation of Pakistan would have created, albeit in slightly long run. Would a poor soul would have felt differently dying out in collapsing civil society than dying due to hunger and cholera now? Or were you really hoping that rich Punjabi elites who have swiss accounts and chateau in European countries would have been affected by your so called economic sanctions on Pakistan and these unfortunate ones would have been spared? Hadn’t the internal challenges born out of trade-sanctions had generated more anti-West jihadis than this terrible floods? Heck, that would have even united the revolting ones against a common outside enemy, From that perspective, these floods are even Godsend for world peace

Only 1500 or so have died which are not much from statistical point of view. More than that number die in road accidents in a month, I’m sure.

Those Indians who think that they could win hearts and minds by seeing their country offer $5 million and few individual charities when the need is of $20 billion are deluded to the core. If you want to win hearts and minds, ask your country to give $40 billion and resolve all difference of past 60 years with one shot. Putting a drop in the thirsty person’s mouth and pretending (and hoping) some kind of saintliness is self-delusional at best. I don’t mean that you don’t donate or anything but don’t be foolish enough to believe that this tiny donation is going to wipe out the years of animosity by gestures of few.These politicians-like blanket statement (I’ve my sympathies to people of Pakistan) are worst! Sympathy is conveyed on a one-to-one basis to the one in need. Or is it just a propaganda to project the saintliness? If it is that, it is even worse! Plus, you are targeting the wrong people. Those who are currently affected by floods are poor people, they don’t hate India in the first place. They don’t hate anyone, they just can’t afford hatred. Its the middle class who used to put donations in the charity boxes to “free” Kashmir while buying their rations. Finally, those who are rich and are in power, they have created the anti-India mindset in middle class society knowingly and are not going to give up as easily. Only when their control is under real pressure, middle-class will begin to feel heat which is otherwise absorbed by unfortunate poor people.

Appears to me that like Indian government’s foreign policy, common Indian mindsets are as deluded when it comes to have a coherent policy on dealing with Pakistan. Pakistanis are correct when they claim that Indians are weak and can easily be defeated. Everyone’s sense of judgement seem to be clouded because the tragedy is caused by nature and not by the US foreign policy, on whose shoulders (and cost) Indians try to aim their guns at alleviating their own security fears. More people sleep hungry and in despair everyday that the total number of people affected in Pakistan with this flood. Simply because those pictures are not stuffed in your faces, people believe that entire world is fairyland and only when some natural disaster has taken place, this humanity wakes up in people.

Net net, when you realize that their is immense hatred in Pakistanis against India, they are down and suffering and you can’t offer sufficient balms for their wounds, what is the point in even trying to show up with your first-aid kits? Any wonder India is a soft state?

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive
 

Seth some of your arguments are flawed.

@Only 1500 or so have died which are not much from statistical point of view. More than that number die in road accidents in a month, I’m sure.”
–Can we say the same about those killed by terrorists? I do not think this is a valid argument.

@Net net, when you realize that their is immense hatred in Pakistanis against India, they are down and suffering and you can’t offer sufficient balms for their wounds, what is the point in even trying to show up with your first-aid kits?”
—If what you say below is correct then donations make sense.
“Those who are currently affected by floods are poor people, they don’t hate India in the first place.”

But I agree it is naive to expect change in heart. If I am giving some bucks to UNICEF it is for the victims not the India-haters.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

They would rather have children die of starvation than let them eat rotis made of wheat given by India.

>>> Mortal, wait six weeks. you will be the first in line to brag about your 5 million till eternity. all of this is a marketing stunt by you indian commenters…

Is this flood not the answer to all of your and kpsings, gw’s collective prayers for the last 1000 posts?

we have one stereotype of you just as you have many for us: Chameleons.

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive
 

Forget individual donations by the public.

What is telling is how slow official assistance has been in coming. With the exception of a handful of Western countries, not too many governments around the world seem to be in a mood to help.

Part of this reluctance can be ascribed to the weak global economy. But a large part of that reluctance is most certainly the image of Pakistan and it’s official state agencies as double-dealing and corrupt organizations who are likely to simply squander aid, or worse, employ those resources against our own forces next door.

Pakistan will get the aid it needs eventually. But a lot of it will be funnelled through international aid agencies, in as tightly controlled a fashion as possible.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive
 

Seth,

Nobody intended broad economic sanctions against Pakistan. Nor have sanctions been discussed in any certainty. However, the flood does not change anything in the long term. If arms of the Pakistani state insist of harbouring and fostering terror groups that threaten the national security of western nations, it’s unlikely those governments with populations on the receiving end will sit back and simply accept what comes their way.

In such cases, there would never be broad economic sanctions. Given how large the Army’s industrial sector is in Pakistan, you can be sure, that it would not be hard to target those state agencies and elites, without impacting the average Pakistani.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive
 

Seth,

When I donate or raise money for a charitable cause (this or any other) & appeal to others to do so as well, it’s purely on a human level & not as an Indian or American etc. My intention in this case (as in any other) is not to win hearts but to save lives and/or alleviate the pain of the survivors. In this particular case, I appealed particularly to Indians & south asians to help out because the response from western & developed nations (govts & private charities) was quite indifferent & I felt that as neighbours of Pakistan, we should try to pick some of that slack. If we can mend some fences & become closer in the process, why not. But primarily, the idea is not about trying to score points with anyone, except maybe with the big guy above.

Regarding the sanctions, I did not propose the kind of sanctions on pakistan which directly hurt the poor. I’d like to see the kind of sanctions which are specifically designed to hurt the powerful elite & the military establishment of Pakistan & pinches their pocket. There are many ways to do that. Yes, you can not completely insulate the poor from the effects of sanctions but you can structure them in a way that it hurts them the least. For eg. cutting off visas to western countries would hardly hurt the poor but will make the rich elite cringe, since they could no longer go for european vacations or send their children to america or australia for higher studies.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

@”Mortal, wait six weeks. you will be the first in line to brag about your 5 million till eternity. all of this is a marketing stunt by you indian commenters…”

You don’t know squat about me to make that kind of an assumption. If I really wanna brag, I don’t have to wait for 6 weeks. I can do so right now but that’s not what I’m all about.

@”Is this flood not the answer to all of your and kpsings, gw’s collective prayers for the last 1000 posts?”

What did we pray for? That millions of Pakistan’s poor are displaced & die of flooding, diseases & hunger? Can you show me where any Indian commenter has wished for that? The only thing that most Indians & I pray for, is that your establishment gets it’s head out of it’s a$$ & gives up it’s support of all kinds of terrorism from your soil. We pray that, not only because it would be the best & right thing to do for the world & the region but also because it would be in the best interests of Pakistanis.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

@”Mortal, wait six weeks. you will be the first in line to brag about your 5 million till eternity. all of this is a marketing stunt by you indian commenters…”

You don’t know squat about me to make that kind of an assumption. If I really wanna brag, I don’t have to wait for 6 weeks. I can do so right now but that’s not what I’m all about.

@”Is this flood not the answer to all of your and kpsings, gw’s collective prayers for the last 1000 posts?”

What did we pray for? That millions of Pakistan’s poor are displaced & die of flooding, diseases & hunger? Can you show me where any Indian commenter has wished for that? The only thing that most Indians & I pray for, is that your establishment gets it’s head out of it’s a*ss & gives up it’s support of all kinds of terrorism from your soil. We pray that, not only because it would be the best & right thing to do for the world & the region but also because it would be in the best interests of Pakistanis.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

Myra, Perhaps you have ommitted a very vital point in your article, why must world help Pakistan ? A country where terrorism is state policy, where dreaded terrorists are worshipped and idolised . For last several decades, Pakistanis have spent an enormous part of their budget in development of terror infrastructure , where jehad is the official lessons in schools and colleges , why the world and international community should extend helping hand to Pakistan? Why the world should care about Pakistan?

Posted by manishindia | Report as abusive
 

@Why the world should care about Pakistan?
Posted by manishindia

–Fundamentalists/Terrorists will use that as a recruitment strategy which feeds into the same factor “terrorism against the West”. This factor is why Brits and US have been giving aid to Pakistan so far.

Posted by RAJEEV-2 | Report as abusive
 

“App. $200 billion of black money belonging to Pakistanis langushes in Swiss banks, as flood victims die of desease & starvation”

http://alaiwah.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/ 200-billion-of-pakistanis-in-swiss-banks  /

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 
 

Pakistan Military (Army, Navy and Air Force) should be commended for their rescue and relief operations. C-130s are evacuating people to safety, Navy and Army Aviation is air dropping supplies and reaching out to cut off communities.
While the Urban cities had better drainage, the rural areas are most hit. In Urban cities their are relief camps everywhere, private charities, Military garrisons, Pakistani diaspora abroad, everyone is coming together.
Pakistan should turn around and dust itself off just like last time when the earthquake struck. For all the talk of Pakistan’s image, let it be known Pakistan is facing a natural disaster and its aftermath along with the fight against terrorism. Let no one think Pakistan is drowning, with its biggest asset, Pakistan will thrive. The asset: resilient people.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

Perhaps the international community is slow to respond to the flood crisis in Pakistan because other countries remember how Pakistan squandered tens of millions of dollars on nuclear weapons rather than on infrastructure, economic development, social services and a reserve for contingencies.

The United States should offer to purchase Pakistan’s nuclear weapons at, say, $10 million each. That will provide the infusion of cash that Pakistan’s leaders need to deal with the flood crisis.

Posted by Gary2010 | Report as abusive
 

Mortal1,

There is no point in posting these “oh, look how bad your country is” kind of links. I’m sure Pakistanis are already aware, first-hand, of all the ways in which their country sucks. They’re also aware of the positives, which people outside don’t see, or refuse to see, the highest of which is resilience. And all this is true of India too. Both countries have a reasonably free press, and we can ourselves read about what’s wrong in our countries and how to fix them.

Look forward, ever forward. What do we do now that’s constructive?

Your exhortations to Indians to contribute was a definite positive. It will make a real difference to people on the ground. Similarly, saif_1980′s genuine attempt to gauge the attitude of Indians towards a realistic peace deal was also a step forward because it helped to clear the air and lay out what ordinary people on both sides would be willing to see.

We need more of such positive thinking to dig ourselves out of this hole in which we find ourselves. Indians can’t afford to be self-congratulatory. The Dawn link above showed how much bigger India’s black money problem is. Plus, if Pakistan sinks, India cannot remain immune. We owe it to ourselves to see that the other does well.

This blog should be a place that readers come to in search of ideas, not the equivalent of a boxing ring where people come when they want to see people slugging each other pointlessly.

I have been reading about the concept of “disaster diplomacy” (http://bit.ly/bcbnQv), which could hold the key to normalisation of relations. Greece and Turkey managed to improve their relations dramatically by helping each other during their earthquakes (http://bit.ly/cPWS2U). We should try and influence opinion in our own countries in favour of disaster diplomacy – India to help more with the floods, and Pakistan to be receptive to such aid (http://bit.ly/9jVuyD).

Let’s think along these lines for a while.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh,

My objective behind posting the link about Pakistani black money in foreign accounts, wasn’t to highlight the corruption in Pakistan or make that country look bad. Corruption & money laundering in countries like India & Pakistan is hardly a secret. I simply wanted to make Pakistanis aware of these ridiculous figures, since I was shocked by them. My naive hope is that Pakistanis would pressurize their govt, to repatriate some of that money & use it to overcome the flood crisis. I’m also quite certain that the figure of Indian black money in foreign banks must be many times, that of Pakistan’s.

Your points about constructive thinking & disaster dimplomacy are well taken.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

Fair enough, but we know from experience that negative comments always draw defensive reactions, so if we want to achieve something constructive, it’s better to state the same thing more diplomatically or not at all.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

@Mortal

I’m not against personal donations, whether to Pakistan or elsewhere. Governments of various countries donating hard cash from their taxpayers money in the name of charity is what I loathe. Moreover, any materialistic foreign aid is going be distributed by the very same people whom everyone has been blaming for formenting terror and distrubing peace in the region. Even if its distributed directly by foreign aid agencies, the corrupt politicians and PA gets away by posing as facilitators of that aid. People who are suffering today are only going to remember the volunteers of charitable groups who are on the ground and army helicopters. Moreover, any cash donation to corrupt government is sure to get siphoned off for other “strategic” purposes.

Any power on earth that can fix the ailing Pakistan is neither West/NATO/UN nor trade sanctions and alienation . That power lies with the very same people who are suffering in today’s floods. These kind of national tragedies have the potential to wake up these slumbering masses and make them take their destinies in their own hands. I don’t buy the argument that all those who are suffering are going to get Talibanized. These people’s resentment can create the kind of pressure on GOP that none of West’s coercing or cuddling tactics can ever achieve. By crying out loud to help those suffering, you are doing a great disservice to their future. Few coins and bills from you and me can help them for few days only, they get their food, medicine and shelters, world helps in rebuilding the infrastructure in Pakistan and then in 5-10 years everything gets back to normal. Which is to say that another head of state sworns to feed grass-breads to its people while spending all the money in the name of perceived threat from India. And of course, nobody questions him on this.

Come on! The devastation is not caused by some earthquake or tsunami or comet hitting them. This helplessness of government is primarily because of having wrong priorities in the first place. All those years of diverting (or neglecting totally) funds from irrigation projects into buying military technology and prioritizing smooth operation of terror factories have resulted into this mess. This rewarding of irresponsible behavior cannot and SHOULD NOT go on forever! Sometime in future, when India faces food security or carbon-emission issues, the world is going to scold India’s leadership for not acting proactively by controlling its population which would be only appropriate. Save some donation money for those days too because nobody in your government is talkin about one-child policy yet!

As for mending fences – that is a pipe dream. Saudis are routing aid money through hard-liner Islamist charities groups to their laboratry world knows as Pakistan. You & I donate money via western aid agencies and its counted as Canadian aid or British aid with no tag mentioning it comes from NRIs. You are not going to get a visa to Pakistan to distribute aid, are you?

That suggestion about blocking visas to foreign countries is, laughable. You are talking about discriminating against the bright doctors, engineers, and scientists in Pakistan just to curb the rich and elites which are a tiny fraction of the people using those visas. Rich and powerfull are rich and powefull because they know how to remain so. Their core strength is the sleeping and misled masses whose awakening alone can affect those high and mighty. As long as world keeps bailing out Pakistan’s government, people of Pakistan would continue to suffer.

All those poetic renderings of flood victims seem to have distorted people’s perception, that is all I would say in my closing note.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive
 

I think that the United States would be helping more if pakastan did not want us all to die. They wished us dead years ago and want us dead now. We could be bringing more aid that nobody could imagine.If we did you could see that we can help when you need it and we help our friends. I hope that all the differences in the future will be put aside and we can all work around this as this world gets more and more fragile. There will be more disasters trust me.How they are handled will be up to government and the people who live there. I wish you well and hope you make it though…

Posted by meindahub | Report as abusive
 

Seth,

I understand your point. You’re talking about tough love, that one must be cruel to be kind, etc.

But ultimately, it’s what each person feels when they see images of children needlessly dying of cholera and dysentery. Do we harden our hearts and think that the popular revolution that comes out of that sufering will be the long-term cure, or do we reach for our wallets because we think that’s the right thing to do at that moment?

It’s a conscience vote, really.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

Seth,

My appeal was for personal donations through bonafide international charitable organizations like the red cross, unicef, salvation army etc. I’m not in favor of a penny, in aid being handed over to any Pakistani governmental agency or even private organization, for obvious reasons. As long as aid reaches the people it’s intended for, I don’t really care if it doesen’t bear my name on it.

@”By crying out loud to help those suffering, you are doing a great disservice to their future.”

If they don’t get the timely help they need, many of them won’t have a future. That was the whole point behind the appeal.

@”This helplessness of government is primarily because of having wrong priorities in the first place. All those years of diverting (or neglecting totally) funds from irrigation projects into buying military technology and prioritizing smooth operation of terror factories have resulted into this mess”

I don’t think it’s fair to let millions of poor people & children die for the misdeeds & carelessness of their leaders.

@”That suggestion about blocking visas to foreign countries is, laughable. You are talking about discriminating against the bright doctors, engineers, and scientists in Pakistan just to curb the rich and elites”

My illustration was in the context of “sanctions which would impact pakistan’s poor, the least”. I don’t think the poor who can barely afford basic amenities, will be able to send their children to medical or engineering colleges in america or britain. And maybe it’s not such a bad idea to stop the brain drain & compell pakistan’s bright youngsters to stay in their country & bring about the desired changes.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

Typo – suffering

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

@Keithz,

Firstly, this is an excellent opportunity for the Indians to shovel out assistance with a big heart and possibly politically inch out the establishment in Pakistan slightly.
India should dole out big, bigger than anyone to help Pakistani victims.

Next, in your circles, forget the floods for a second, why in tarnation is the west been enabling Pakistan to conduct clandestine warfar against NATO and India.

The U.S. has known for almost a decade that Paks are cavorting, supplying, arming, mentoring and supporting Jihadi elements and still supplying billions of USD of aid, but little to show for it. The biggest thing to show is a protracted war in Afghanistan and India having to spend billions to counter these threats.

Why is Pakistan being enabled to be such a trouble maker? Is it because there is some global game playing going on, or is the west so bloody inept and stupid that it does not know any better?

You know exactly where I am coming from here Keithz. Sometimes it feels that somebody is playing a very large and dirty chess game and Af_Pak is just one of the few moves in the grander game and means to an end, but for what purpose?

It is apparent that the Pak Army’s interest is to protract and extend and sustain these wars as long as possible, is there anybody else doing this?

People are getting tired of dying for nothing, just because somebody is trying to turn a buck.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh and Mortal,

You talked me into it, $51 more. But, only for unfortunate children of Pakistan! And, I’m under no delusion what-so-ever that some of these same children are not going to attend Madarassas and shout death to infidels and everybody who would have a difference of opinion with them.

I totally understand your point towards donating for the immediate crisis. But I don’t think I find any justification in world’s donation for rebuilding of Pakistan when $200 billion are lying in the swiss accounts of corrupt politicians and PA generals and they are hell-bent on maintaining terrorism infrastructure against India and West. Rich western countries have very generous people (I would credit Christianity here) and they are being made a fool by countries like Pakistan every time.

“I don’t think it’s fair to let millions of poor people & children die for the misdeeds & carelessness of their leaders.”

That is exactly what I meant by clouding of perceptions. Millions would die? Really?

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive
 

> You talked me into it, $51 more.

You’re a softie after all :-) .

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

@Ganesh,

Of course, yes! I’m an Indian! If Pakistan was filled with likes of Usmans only, I’ll make sure I send 51 buckets of water instead. :)

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive
 

@”And, I’m under no delusion what-so-ever that some of these same children are not going to attend Madarassas and shout death to infidels and everybody who would have a difference of opinion with them.”

Good that you donated! If you believe in the law of karma, you can’t worry about all that. As the saying goes “do good & dump it in the sea”.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

@Mortal,

That’s right! Neki kar dariya mein daal.

BTW, I had donated some money already. I won’t say Karma or anything but I believe in staying true to myself.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive
 

It seems to me that Pakistanis should hold Allah responsible for assistance. It wasn’t America who brought the rain.

I believe that most of the donations will be siphoned off rather than delivered to where it is needed in an effective manner.

Besides, I prefer not to spend a nickel on anyone who despises America. Surely, those people will be much happier living with Allah in heaven.

Posted by breezinthru | Report as abusive
 

@Breeznithru,

In the defense of sensibilities and muslims, it is unfair to blame “allah” for the flood in Pakistan.

I don’t think god interferes in the actions of humans to a large degree. This flood is in a large part, man made, with our willful destruction of the forest, deforestation by militants, misuse and misapproriation of land use by Pakistani government and Pak Army, by not building more dams and the world at large, that continues to burn fossil fuel, that gave rise to the strange weather pattern that precipitated such a torrential monsoon,

This is actually local karma and global karma. Who will be next? The earth will deliver to us what we sow.

We are like a disease and the earth is doing what it can to attack us. One day, the earth may just tell us all to fxxk off.

Upon partition, the punjabi’s did a smart thing by occupying the high ground, this has spared them from the floods.

Please refrain from upsetting people’s sensibilities.

Blaming god for these things is inappropriate, we have too look at our own greed, the corporations and lack of political will to tackle these earth issues. The symptom of these earth issues will show in the form of floods and such natural disasters.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

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