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 Рthe 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 Рas 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‚Äôt 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‚Äôs 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.

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Already on the brink, these floods have pushed Pakistan further down the slide. Even if foreign aid pours through, it may not be adequate to put things back. Pakistan does not have the infrastructure to rebuild itself. It does not have experienced people to govern and manage its available resources. There is only the military which has some kind of organizational and administrative structure. But a military is meant for defending a country and not for running it. It might cost billions of dollars to bring life back to normal in the devastated areas, already plagued by militancy. There is no guarantee that this calamity might not repeat itself soon. Following the floods, disease and draught would follow. The world economy has not recovered and many countries might have their own financial priorities. They have come to Pakistan only for war time needs. Now that they are withdrawing from such missions, they might want to save up their money for their own rebuilding. US is going to slash its defense budget. Thousands of employees in the defense sector are going to be laid off. US is facing a huge budget deficit. The same with European economy. This means, their allocation for helping Pakistan recover will be much lesser than it has been in the past.

With prices skyrocketing and available food supplies meagre, Pakistan will face a huge challenge in the coming year. It will not have enough money to run proxy war missions as its financial usage through foreign aid will be controlled and monitored by the donors in a more stringent way. Pakistan will need to drop all its regional activities and focus on recovery. I sincerely wish they use this occasion to change themselves and start on a clean slate.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

The estimated monetary damage from the floods, so far, is app. $14 bn (and expected to rise), while the total contribution from the world (Govts & private charities) has been less than $500 mn (rough estimate). The world community’s response (or lack, thereof) to Pakistan’s flood crisis, is a barmometer, as to how much the stock of that country has fallen in the eyes of world. As unfair as it is, to the flood victims & Pakistanis in general, the blame lies with Pakistan’s military establishment, whose self-destructive policies have radicalized that nation, transformed it into a terror haven & tarnished it’s image in front of the world. With a second wave of floods expected soon & water borne deseases, already starting to spread, Pakistan needs all the help it can get. I’m afraid, the damage from these floods will be too big for Pakistan to overcome and inept governance will lead to further chaos & radicalization of the country. If there was any doubt about Pakistan’s collapse before this calamity, unfortunately, now there certainly isn’t.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

Pakistan is a resilient country capable of overcoming such crises, be it the earthquake in 2005 or the fight against militants. And just like before, this time too Pakistani armed forces are at the forefront of relief and rescue operations. Pakistan Navy is distributing relief goods through helicopters, similarly Pakistan Air Force transport C-130 squadrons are mobilized, and the Pakistan Army is fully engaged in rescue operations with medical teams deployed around affected areas. Everyone is doing whatever is possible, In cities like Islamabad Rawalpindi Lahore Karachi flood relief camps are established, donations are being made, once again the Army is collecting donations through branches of Askari Bank across Pakistan.
While this is a national calamity, i still think Pakistanis must help themselves. Reject aid from India, if wealthy Pakistani diaspora, business community inside Pakistan and people in general pull themselves together, this can be handled. Eventually, the people are resilient, the country is capable of turning around this huge problem into an opportunity to rebuild and get back to work.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

My dear Pakistanis it is a bittersweet independence day. bitter, because so many people suffer and sweet because our independence day will always be sweet. Even if we perish in the floods and wars of today, we are comforted knowing our Pakistan lives on.

As you can see from the tone of the posts above, our enemies once again are salivating at the thought of our imminent demise. Let us ONCE AGAIN, prove to them our resilience. Come hell or high water, earthquakes or invasions, let us once again rise from the ashes much to the dismay of our detractors. (inch’allah)

Just as the British gave us a boundary they considered ‘indefensible’, just as our neighbor predicted ‘we would come crawling back’, just as Krushchev promised to annihilate us, just as the devastating earthquake destroyed our infrastructure (to the glee and joy of our enemies), let us now work to recover from this tragedy.

If you have 10 rupees, give 5 to someone that needs it even more than you. Displaced people are fasting. Some for spiritual reasons, others because they have no choice. Let us celebrate our independence by helping the needy.

Happy Independence Day to my countrymen.

Pakistan ZINDABAD.

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive

@Fellow bloggers,

Everybody, including all Indians, please donate with a big heart to the Pakistani’s suffering from the flood disaster. It is the right thing to do.
———————————————————-
@Singh, mortal

Unfortunately, as people are displaced and getting hungry, so will their anger against the Government and the Pak Army.

Many analysts believe currently that this flood has the potential of the makings of a civil war in making. As anger mounts, more will gravitate to militantism as it is anticipated that the militants are looking to capitalize and recruit more disenfranchised and angry people.

What keeps me in a state of shell shock is that Pakistan continues to spend billions on nukes, while its people eat grass and do not have fresh water to drink.

Eventually people are going to have reached the limits of their patience and when enough people become upset and angry, they start to wakeup, you cannot politically tilt the balance without enforcing draconian measures and that is the time when you have the makings of a civil war.

Anyways, the poor Pakistani people continue to suffer, tell all your Indian friends to please donate and save human lives.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Young Pakistanis answer to Mortal and KP:

http://tinyurl.com/252p9tz

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive

Usman
Just as Richard armitage threatened to bomb us back to stone age. Together we will rebuild our way back to normal life and overcome the floods.

Happy Independence Day. Pakistan Zindabad

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

“Young Pakistanis answer to Mortal and KP:
http://tinyurl.com/252p9”

good luck with collecting the $14 billion needed.

“If you have 10 rupees, give 5 to someone that needs it even more than you.”

good message but hard to resonate in a country where people barely pay any taxes, let alone share their wealth with others and where the rich keep most of their money aboroad in foreign bank accounts.

Posted by Black_Sabbath3 | Report as abusive

Happy independence day to our friends in Pakistan, and best wishes for your efforts in battling the terrible effects of the floods.

To fellow Indians, it is very churlish and unseemly to make negative and disparaging remarks at a time of human tragedy. If you cannot contribute or do something to help, please stay silent. There will be other times to raise points and argue issues. Now is the time to support fellow human beings in need.

To Pakistanis, I would say please learn to distinguish between anger and hatred. Not many Indians hate Pakistan or want to see it destroyed, merely to see it adopt a less aggressive posture and be a friendlier neighbour. There is a lot of anger in India about terror attacks from Pakistani soil aided by the military establishment. This anger has temporarily clouded the attitudes of many Indians towards the flood victims. Indeed, throughout the world, Pakistan has suffered a loss of image which has translated into an unwillingness on the part of people to help. This is as big a tragedy as the floods themselves. In any case, anger at terrorism should not be mistaken for hatred of the country and a wish for its demise.

I hope we all find ourselves in a better place in 2011. Best wishes once again.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

Black_Sabbath3 and alike,
you guys are really slime of the earth. It’s people like you, with black hearts, make me hate Indians. I hope Pakistani govt tells Indians to take those $5m and shove it where moon don’t shine.
I am and many others are actively donating a decent sum to flood victims on weekly basis. God willingly we will overcome because we have a big task in front of us, that is to keep helping kashmir insurgency and help China to balkanize India.

Happy Independence day to all Pakistanis

Posted by babag | Report as abusive

Take it easy, babag. A lot of the hate speech on both sides is just posturing. Strong emotions are a sign that we care. Apathy is what we need to watch out for.

This is a video I just saw: http://bit.ly/sYqO8

Watch it to the end. I suspect lots of people are like this – taking hardline positions just for effect but actually quite reasonable on a personal basis.

Once again, best wishes to the people of Pakistan for a rapid recovery from the crisis.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

babag,

this is why u guys are a failed people & a failed country. You get riled up & become belligerent jerk-offs for no apparent reason. May i ask, what the f*u*c*k did i say that raised the blood level in your a*s*s*hole & prompted you to commit verbal diarrhea here?
Was I wrong to say “good luck with collecting $14 billion” OR did I lie when I mentioned the low tax collection rate of your country & the foreign bank accounts of your rich? I guess, you’re not actually mad at me but with the reality facing your country.

Posted by Black_Sabbath3 | Report as abusive

It seems to me that merely mentioning facts & the truth is offensive to pakistanis here, as long as it comes from indians or people of indian origin. Many pakistani intellectuals & journalists are mentioning the same things which mortal, kpsingh etc have mentioned above but if those observations & remarks come from the indian ‘enemies’, pakistanis find them offensive & derogatory.

Posted by Black_Sabbath3 | Report as abusive

Even in this disaster time the Pakistani foreign minister had time to raise Kashmere issue with India. At least be gracious to accept the donation by Indians. I do feel sorry for the peoples but not for their politicians and army. These entities are ungrateful and they shit where they eat. Only glue that keeps the country together is hate rate for India. There terror activities and duplicity will continue. They have perfect art of begging and shaking westerner for the money.

Posted by prshah | Report as abusive

“and help China to balkanize India.” Posted by babag

one would think that at least now pakistanis like u would have realized the worth of your country in china’s eyes after the pittance it has thrown your way in the form of aid for the flood crisis but I guess, not. After all, ‘old habits die hard’.

Posted by Black_Sabbath3 | Report as abusive

Ganesh:

That video is sweet!

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

China is struggling with it’s own flood disaster. I don’t expect much aid to come from China in terms of material. If we are talking about monetary aid, Chinese policy seems to be to keep the money out of the hands of the Pakistani zamindars.
Even that ghastly TTP thinks that monetary aid to Pakistan will be used to enrich politicians.

India is best positioned for helping Pakistan, but Zardari would rather go on a Eurotrip then do the obvious.

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive

Incidentally, the rich and fabulous of Pakistan have amassed enough wealth to substantially help out Pakistan on their own. This includes the Pak govs own Mr. 10% Zardari and their fabulous foreign minister. It’s not difficult to imagine why Zardari has manage to garner so little sympathy and aid.

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive

Does anyone from Pakistan know the true cost of Mr. Zardari’s trip to the UK. Does anyone know how much the Govt. paid for the Suites they stayed in as well as they cost of travelling back and forth. If not look it up. You will be shocked at such callous expenditure at this time of need. Heard of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. This is more like Zardari fiddling while Pakistan drowns.

Posted by abrahavt | Report as abusive

Pakistan must reject India’s aid offer, if mobilized Pakistan’s own business community can easily help the needy people in distress.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Ganesh, you truly have a good heart. but read the joy and pleasure in the comments of your countrymen. you will find that you are a statistical outlier.

Read the posts here; Do Pakistanis celebrate when thousands of Indians die? Do Pakistanis set off firecrackers when Pakistan lose the world cup against a third party (1999)?

You keep mentioning Mumbai. A grisly tragedy indeed. But what about the ongoing tragedy in Kashmir? More than 500 Mumbais have been inflicted on Kashmiris not by rogues but the armed forces of your democratic govt.

And don’t give me that ISI-staged protest bullsh_t. 50 year old women and 7 year old children throwing rocks at your brutal forces cannot be motivated by pakistan.

The comments from indians here are disgusting. Don’t cry when they inspire someone to show up on your door and f_ck you cowards up.

peace.

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive

one would think that at least now pakistanis like u would have realized the worth of your country in china‚Äôs eyes after the pittance it has thrown your way in the form of aid for the flood crisis but I guess, not. After all, ‚Äėold habits die hard‚Äô

– epic fool, they have given much more than 1.5 million. your problem is you seek evidence that supports your predetermined conclusions.

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive

Happy Independence day to all Pakistanis!

I sincerely pray that your country comes out of the current crisis and builds a new Pakistan – a nation that is focused on education, modernity, industrial infrastructure, exports and overall well being of all citizens.

Pakistan is at the cross roads today. A big decision has to be made which way the country must go. It cannot live the way it did until now. What you see today is a clear picture of how the world views Pakistan. One can tell by the way the world has responded to Pakistan’s flood situation. That is why it is very important to work sincerely and honestly to bring your nation up as a real nation. That will bring in all the respect automatically. Until now, your country has been misled by the short lived luxuries brought in by cold war allegiances. It was just a fee for service. Once the fee got consumed, there is nothing left. Income has to be steady and expenses have to be managed. Your leaders (military and civilian) have lived off foreign dole and have become used to it.

Today somehow, take a pledge that for the next few decades you will focus on building your nation and nothing else. India really is not an enemy. Today give up that unnecessary paranoia and focus on your nation. India knows how wasteful it is to set up and sustain conflicts. It has moved on in a different direction since 1991. Today is Pakistan’s chance to do the same. Just start on a clean slate. Until you become an economic power, no one will care what Pakistan’s views are. Using terrorism and blackmail to make gains will make things only worse for your country.
An economically powerful Pakistan will be able to influence a lot more on issues like Kashmir. Make India and Pakistan interdependent on each other for business and trade. Diplomacy will automatically resolve issues like Kashmir. Guns will not.

Use this crisis to build a new Pakistan. My best wishes!

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

It seems to me that merely mentioning facts & the truth is offensive to pakistanis here, as long as it comes from indians or people of indian origin.

>>> Do you see any other nationalities posting their schadenfreude except indians? Ponder that one my noble chimp.

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive

Diplomacy will automatically resolve issues like Kashmir. Guns will not.

>>> Who has the guns and who has the pebbles in kashmir? why don’t you give this lecture to yourself.

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive

If the relationship between India and Pakistan was one of trust like that between the US and Canada or between Australia and New Zealand, by now we would have seen the Indian Air Force flying sorties across the border dropping much-needed supplies, and Indian doctors and nurses would have been out in force to stamp out the risk of cholera. Isn’t it sad that a basic lack of trust makes such a scenario impossible?

The more I look at our unfortunate region, the more I see wasted opportunities.

Regards,
Ganesh

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

mirusmtupsha said:

> You keep mentioning Mumbai. A grisly tragedy indeed. But what about the ongoing tragedy in Kashmir? More than 500 Mumbais have been inflicted on Kashmiris not by rogues but the armed forces of your democratic govt.

> And don’t give me that ISI-staged protest bullsh_t. 50 year old women and 7 year old children throwing rocks at your brutal forces cannot be motivated by pakistan.

There’s no denying that something more is going on than Pakistan-sponsored agitation. But please look beyond the stereotypes when you talk about the Indian response. Many ordinary Indians are raising questions about what their government is doing in Kashmir, because with all its faults, India is a true democracy. This is what gives me hope that the grievances of the Kashmiri people will be heard and addressed. (This should include the Kashmiri Pundits who were ethnically cleansed by terrorists.)

This article was written by an Indian journalist:
http://bit.ly/dsPlvM

I did raise this on this forum:
http://bit.ly/aHoGfO

I guess the moral of the story is that if we engage with each other, we can bring moral pressure on governments to do the right thing. If we only indulge in finger-pointing and cheap point-scoring, we only provoke defensiveness in other people and make no progress in the conversation.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

> And don’t give me that ISI-staged protest bullsh_t. 50 year old women and 7 year old children throwing rocks at your brutal forces cannot be motivated by pakistan.

No way, of course these two are not motivatead by ISI. It was that 7-yr old’s father and uncles and that 50 yr old’s sons who were probably motivated by ISI-backed agenda of bleeding India through thousand cuts, lost their lives in unlawful activities (or may be died due to access by Indian military, but motivated through ISI-sponsered insurgency nonetheless) and that is why these two are pi*s*sed off at Indian forces. Both persons are not in age of reason, even more so when they have been thus traumatized.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

mirusmtupsha,

Let’s discuss Kashmir in a spirit of openness, conceding points where the other person has a valid argument and constructively confronting when one has a strong argument.

If Kashmiris in Indian-held Kashmir were agitating of their own accord to join Pakistan, then the only conversation would be around what to do with the other Kashmiri minorities like Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists who presumably would not want to join Pakistan.

But since we have received ample evidence that Kashmiris do not want to join either India or Pakistan but desire a separate nation for themselves, the question is what about Pakistan-held Kashmir? “Kashmir banega Pakistan” is then not the answer to Indian occupation/oppression, because the Kashmiris would then merely be exchanging one occupier for another. Would Pakistanis be truly willing to give up *their* portion of Kashmir in order to accommodate the wishes of the Kashmiris?

These conversations are difficult, but they are the ones I hope we can have on this forum. It requires us to drop our defensiveness (as I have tried to do) and speak freely, yet without resorting to overly negative criticisms of the other side.

I invite you to address not only the sins of India but all aspects of the issue. Genuine candour will definitely be reciprocated.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

‚ÄúDo Pakistanis celebrate when thousands of Indians die? Do Pakistanis set off firecrackers when Pakistan lose the world cup against a third party?‚ÄĚ

Poor try, you are implying as if Indians celebrate at the natural disasters in Pak.

As for matches, you should have come up with something less obvious. Must also mention that there were many like you who thought (and expressed through various mediums) that “boyz did a good job” after Mumbai terror attacks.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

Another tragedy, besides the floods is the sorry state of India-Pakistan relations. India could’ve done a lot to alleviate some of Pakistan’s pain. Not so much monetarily but a lot more with assistance in rescue & relief operations and the rebuilding efforts, thereafter.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

@Ganesh Ji (pls don’t mind, don’t wanna address you without Ji)

“If the relationship between India and Pakistan was one of trust like that between the US and Canada or between Australia and New Zealand, by now we would have seen the Indian Air Force flying sorties across the border dropping much-needed supplies, ”

You are trying to clap with one hand.

I’d be VERY KEEN to learn from you what we Indians have done to break the trust of Pakistanis. If possible, please list the Indian actions in bulleted points that YOU think are the reasons behind this lack of trust from their side.

Over to you, if you may please! :)

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

The other difficult conversation is around stone-throwing. While bullets for stones seems like an over-reaction, one cannot argue that stone-throwing constitutes a “peaceful protest”. If Gandhi had thrown stones at the British, the history of the subcontinent may have been quite different.

If Indian forces fired upon a truly peaceful protest, then it would be an unquestionable outrage. But when they are attacked by stones, that moral argument is weakened.

As I see it, there are two issues here:

1. Violence in support of an aspiration to freedom: The Kashmiris may have a genuine case, but by resorting to violence (i.e., stone-throwing) and by having terrorists fight their cause for them, they have undeniably lost sympathy. This only delays the achievement of their goal.

2. Human rights violations in support of territorial integrity: India may have a bunch of legal arguments to justify the accession of Kashmir, but nothing justifies the torture of a people, and I am one of the first to concede that such violations have quite probably taken place. I fear for India here, because history has never been kind to oppressors.

There’s definitely something to discuss here, because the situation is not black-and-white. The participants just have to have the intellectual honesty to acknowledge points when a strong case is made.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

Since Reuters India is not as active as this one, I think I must post the message here.

Happy Independence Day to fellow Indians on this blog! I salute and congratulate every Indian on the anniversary of our political freedom. No matter how small our individual contribution may be, together we make a beautiful colorful painting of our motherland. Let us continue to march together on the path of progress, prosperity and peace.

JAI HIND!!

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

Poor try, you are implying as if Indians celebrate at the natural disasters in Pak.

>> read the comments here. what do you think is happening in the posts here?

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive

@mirusmtupsha
Please, for a change, read all the posts carefully and calmly and remember to take deep breaths in-between.

In the third comment in this article, you already declared that Indians are salivating at Pakistan’s demise even when there were just two comments posted above yours. The way I read it, those two posters are merely trying to analyze the impact on Pakistan’s economy and society. It does not mean that they are rejoicing at it.

One of the posters even “sincerely wished” your country recovery in the very same post that you are complaining about. Second poster was asking everyone to promptly donate for the flood reliefs. How can you ignore all that and derive the conclusion that Indians want destruction of Pakistan?

We, Indians, would be plain stu_pid if we let Pakistan slip into more chaos. A free-fall of Pakistan as a nation would create migraines of nth degree for India and world. A tiny part of radicalized society is already become a pain in the neck for us, we don’t want anymore poor Kasabs in Pakistan who have no future to look forward to and can easily be bought as suicide bombers.

For what its worth, I most sincerely want every Pakistani and Indian to have a decent level of prosperity, preferably a house even on mortgage. Only ultra-poor and ultra-rich can afford to indulge in senseless fights, common men are more interested in raising a family and having a good life.

Peace out.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

LAHORE, Aug 14:

Pakistan should move away from the zero-sum security rivalry with India to be able to emerge as a successful, modern democratic society, says a distinguished American foreign policy expert.

‚ÄúIt is vital for Pakistan to shift its strategic focus from a dead-end losing competition with India to a developmental competition,‚ÄĚ Prof Walter Russel Mead emphasised in an interview with Dawn during his recent visit to Lahore.

Pakistan can become an economically strong country if it realises the uselessness of confrontation with India, he said and held that Pakistan’s policy of confrontation with India means that it has given a veto power over its domestic and foreign policy to New Delhi.

Prof Mead is a former Henry Kissinger senior fellow for United States foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a number of books. He was in Pakistan for two weeks to participate in the US embassy’s programme of international speakers. During his visit, he spent a lot of time with students and teachers from different universities, journalists, military officials, analysts and others.

According to him, Pakistan‚Äôs struggle against India is also stopping its security establishment from completely severing its ties with extremist groups. ‚ÄúIf you give up your relationship with these groups,‚ÄĚ he argued, ‚Äúthe whole policy of confrontation with India becomes much more difficult to sustain.‚ÄĚ

He did not agree with the theory that the relationship between Pakistan and India could not improve without a solution to Kashmir. “To some degree it is a question for Pakistan to ask itself. To say that without a resolution to the Kashmir issue Pakistan cannot prosper is to say that India has a veto power over the future of Pakistan, that India must give permission before Pakistan can launch its projects of development.

And I think Pakistan for its own sake needs to assume sovereignty over its future,‚ÄĚ Prof Mead underlined. ‚ÄúPakistan might see a creative new direction for itself if it could see the issue and assume sovereignty over its domestic and foreign policy.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúI think militarization of Pakistan‚Äôs development over the last 60 years is the core,‚ÄĚ he continued. ‚ÄúThe distortion of development priorities that comes from enormous military burden and uneven struggle against a much bigger neighbour means that Pakistan‚Äôs development is slower than that could be otherwise. It has not affected India due to its size. The questionable groups are used as a balancing weapon just to discover that these balancing groups exacerbate internal problems. Violence makes peaceful development much harder. Cost of confrontation for Pakistan keeps rising.‚ÄĚ

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/loca l/lahore/india-enjoys-veto-power-over-pa kistans-progress-580

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

Since Reuters India is not as active as this one, I think I must post the message here.

>>>> really? that is strange. are there not a bunch of pakistanis commenting, obsessing, insulting indians on Reuters India?? hmm.. that is most strange indeed. you would think ‘evil’, ‘jealous’ pakistanis would be doing that kind of thing all the time unlike ‘noble’, ‘indifferent-to-pakistan’ indians.

Happy Independence Day to fellow Indians on this blog! I salute and congratulate every Indian on the anniversary of our political freedom. No matter how small our individual contribution may be, together we make a beautiful colorful painting of our motherland. Let us continue to march together on the path of progress, prosperity and peace.

JAI HIND!!

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive

@Ganesh only,

If Gandhi had thrown stones at the British, the history of the subcontinent may have been quite different.

>>> History would’ve been different if Hitler hadn’t blitzed the hell out of London.

If Indian forces fired upon a truly peaceful protest, then it would be an unquestionable outrage.

>>> Ganesh, this has also happened. Peaceful protests have been laathi-charged, public gathering have been contested with curfews and in some cases peaceful protests have been shot. Have they not earned the right to throw stones at a brutal occupation force per AI, HRW.

But when they are attacked by stones, that moral argument is weakened.

>>> Ganesh, have you heard of rubber bullets? how about water canons? how about shooting below the knees, why perfect head shots? There is one soldier per 5 citizens, is your great, superpower army not able to handle children?

As I see it, there are two issues here:

1. Violence in support of an aspiration to freedom: The Kashmiris may have a genuine case, but by resorting to violence (i.e., stone-throwing) and by having terrorists fight their cause for them, they have undeniably lost sympathy. This only delays the achievement of their goal.

>>>> They fell for Nehru’s promises, they were cheated. They tried to do things peacefully, they tried to protest, boycott, hartals etc.. India did nothing.

2. Human rights violations in support of territorial integrity: India may have a bunch of legal arguments to justify the accession of Kashmir

>>>> India is in the amazing position of always being right in every matter of territory: this includes – junagadh, hyderabad, forward policy, kashmir, goa, sikim, nepali enclaves, bangladeshi enclaves, minicoy, siachen, sir creek?
Is this not the most amazing perfect record?

, but nothing justifies the torture of a people, and I am one of the first to concede that such violations have quite probably taken place.

>>>> read AI and HRW to confirm your suspicions.

I fear for India here, because history has never been kind to oppressors.

There’s definitely something to discuss here, because the situation is not black-and-white. The participants just have to have the intellectual honesty to acknowledge points when a strong case is made.

>>>> I believe i have some excellent points. but i am biased :)

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive

@mirusmtupsha
“>>>> really? that is strange. are there not a bunch of pakistanis commenting, obsessing, insulting indians on Reuters India?? hmm.. that is most strange indeed. you would think ‚Äėevil‚Äô, ‚Äėjealous‚Äô pakistanis would be doing that kind of thing all the time unlike ‚Äėnoble‚Äô, ‚Äėindifferent-to-pakistan‚Äô indians.”

Not so fast, Chichchha Usman! Last I checked, some of Pakistanis were doing India-bashing with dedicated blogs instead! For example your own site, the word “India” occurs 22,384 times while the word “Pakistan” occurs only 21044 times. Now tell who is obsessed with whom. :)

Anyways, what kind of pheromones you are spraying on your ho_les these days? Looks like every Tom’s dic_k hurries towards them these days. Take my words, fight your government for price-inflation first, for prices of amla oil must have soared in your cu*n_try like everything else.

Now the non-serious answer – the blog writers on that section are perhaps lethargic or may be the topics they have to write on are as vast as India’s diversity hence we get mundane articles there which fails to draw attention of people. Secondly, and more importantly, the quality of writers on that blog is inferior to people in other site such as HT. :)

But I know perfectly well where that little whining sound is coming from your motor. Well, not everybody has time to create their own blogs.

ciao :)

PS: Isn’t it fantastic how many things one could learn by just mopping floors at Microsofts?

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

Indians are discussing aid to Pakistan and Pakistanis are discussing….Kashmir.

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive

The situation is getting worse with every passing day. No one is helping; its true because I have been observing this from the past few days. Those who have accumulated large quantities of wealth pay no tax and talk rubbish about the government; they have no right to do it because if only they pay their share of taxes, the situation can be changed.

Posted by SZaman88 | Report as abusive

@Mirusmtupsha,

Do you want peace with India? Do you want freedom for Kashmiri’s?

Then go ahead and give Kashmiri’s Azadi…get the fxxk out of Pakistan occupied Kashmir?

Any Pakistani’s want to answer that one? I don’t think so..not even Journalists have dared takling that hard question, they always cherry pick the easy things to discuss.

there is no reason that India cannot reciprocate in kind and let the Kashmiri’s decide whether they want to be occupied by a foreign country or govern themselves independent of Islamabad or Delhi.

Let’s start talks of fairness and Pakistan’s role in stealing territory from Kashmiri’s and calling it all their own and that is the same plan for Indian Kashmir, to steal the land for the Sunni’s, isn’t it?…well that is not going to happen, India is bound to stay on Indian Kashmir, as long as Pakistan stays on Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Unfortunately, Pakistan has forced the Indian security situation to deteriorate since 1980′s the Paks started to send terrorists into Kashmir, which prompted the large Indian footprint in Indian Kashmir and the subsequent subjugation of Indian Kashmiri’s, during the same time which Pakistan has kept a sustained effort to use the Kashmiri cause to further the goals of its own assymetrical warfare against India and the poor Kashmiri’s are caught in the middle.

Pakistan has left the Kashmiri’s stuck in the middle of all of this mess, only Pakistan’s withdrawal from Terrorism and complete withdrawal from PoK and subsequent complete Indian withdrawal will prevent further trouble for the Kashmiri’s.

Pakistan is the root cause for the misery for Kashmiri’s.

India has duty to provide security for its citizens and through agitation and polarization of the local Kashmiri population in India, Pakistan has tried to capitalize politically negative campaign against India, fully well knowing that sending terrorists into India Kashmir will prompt the Indian army to go there and subsequently hoping that political opinions will turn against India, but that is not going to work.

I ask you Pakistani’s would it not have been better for Kashmiri’s that Pakistan had of stayed out of Kashmir and asked India to do the same and ask for a plebescite at that time?

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

OH…BTW the west is fully aware of how Pakistan forces all Pakistan Occupied Kashmir politicians to swear allegiance to Pakistan as a compulsory precursor to running in PoK politics.

All of the lying and double games are coming out. The internet is revealing all of the little lies one at a time, wikileaks and many more are to come.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

@”Those who have accumulated large quantities of wealth pay no tax and talk rubbish about the government; they have no right to do it because if only they pay their share of taxes, the situation can be changed”
Posted by SZaman88

That’s a great point. Tax revenue is the life-line of every economy. Pakistan’s tax structure is largely favorable to it’s rich & elite. It’s a system for the elite & by the elite, whereby there are no taxes on agricultural income (a big chunk of Pakistan’s economy & earned by the powerful elite) and various luxury items. Not surprisingly, Pakistan’s tax revenue collection rate is one of the lowest in the world (app. 10%). Pakistan’s economy will be hard to revive until the unfair tax structure is changed & the rich start coughing up their share.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

Once again, I’d like to appeal to everyone, please donate for the flood victims. This grave calamity has affected 20 million people so far & a majority of them are children. If timely help is not provided, many of those innocent souls could fall terminally ill & perish with diseases. If you have given already, do so again, this time for the children:

http://www.supportunicef.org/site/pp.asp  ?c=9fLEJSOALpE&b=6161181

Also, please encourage everyone you know, to do so, irrespective of their religion, race, creed or nationality.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

Mortal

I just donated towards UNICEF’s flood relief efforts for kids in Pakistan.

Thanks for your consistent reminders.

Chak de!

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

(somehow my previous account not working)

This is the time to win hearts and minds for Pakistani people. I once again appeal to everyone to donate for our Pakistani friends in this terrible situation.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc1 | Report as abusive

Read these comments. This is what the world thinks about donating to the flood victims in pakistan:

http://world-news.newsvine.com/_news/201 0/08/16/4902059-flood-victim-pakistan-tr eating-us-like-dogs

Posted by KORNY | Report as abusive

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 ‚Äď 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‚Äôt 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 ‚Äúconsidering‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôm 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‚Äôt 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‚Äôt 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‚Ķ”

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‚Äôs 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‚Ķ”

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‚Äôs 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‚Äôt think it‚Äôs 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‚Äôm 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