THE UNITED NATIONS recently stated that flooding in Pakistan this summer is the single worst disaster in UN history, admitting that “the number of people affected by the floods is greater than the other three disasters combined.”
Why then has the response been so slow?
Foreign Policy magazine recently highlighted the disparity between US donations for the Haitian earthquake in January, and the floods in Pakistan:
After the Haiti earthquake, about 3.1 million Americans using mobile phones donated $10 each to the Red Cross, raising about $31 million. A similar campaign to raise contributions for Pakistan produced only about $10,000.
So far, only around 50% of the UN target of $459 million aid for Pakistan from foreign donors has materialised.
There may be several reasons why the stream of donations going from the western world to flooded Pakistan has been so slow.
TheJournal.ie considers some of those reasons below:
1. Compassion fatigue
After the terrible earthquake which decimated Haiti earlier this year, are people simply sick of giving money to far-off places affected by natural disaster?
It is something widely suggested, and the collections in churches, shopping centres and libraries which gave so much to Haiti simply have not re-appeared this time.
2. Allegations of terrorism
Pakistan’s national image has been tarnished by links made between the Pakistani government and terrorist organisations.
Pakistan’s President Zardari was enraged at comments made by British Prime Minister David Cameron on a recent trip to India, in which he said: “we cannot tolerate… that this country… is able in any way to promote the export of terror.”
In the simplest terms: people simply don’t want to give if they think the money may end up being used by members of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
3. Pakistan’s nuclear ability
Another sticking point for Pakistan’s international reputation.
Pakistan has had nuclear weapons since 1972 and the US Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that Pakistan has built 24-48 HEU-based nuclear warheads, while Carnegie reports that they have produced 585-800 kg of HEU, enough for 30-55 weapons.
Again, people don’t want to feel like they are funding the Pakistani nuclear programme.
4. Wikileaks Allegations
Seventy-seven thousand mostly-classified US military documents were published on Wikileaks three weeks ago, suggesting ties between Pakistan’s government and the Taliban.
The leaked documents say the US believes the Pakistani government’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency has links to the Pakistani Taliban.
The Pakistani government flatly denies the claims, but that still hasn’t stopped public opinion liking them with the Pakistani insurgency.
Mosharraf Zaidi concludes his Foreign Policy with an impassioned plea to ignore all of the above points in light of the humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold in Pakistan:
The poor, hungry, and homeless are not an ISI conspiracy to bilk you of your cash. They are a test of your humanity.
Do not follow in the footsteps of the Pakistani elite by failing them. That would be immoral and inhumane. This is a time to ask only one question. And that question is: ‘How can I help?”