Pakistan victims need our money
Compared with the Haiti disaster earlier this year, which saw the world coming together, the response to Pakistan's flood has been fragmented and slow. Several reasons underlie this unusual collective behaviour.
The death toll of 1,600 is a fraction of the nearly a quarter of a million witnessed in Haiti, and does not help to quantify the scale of damage. With increasingly frequent natural disasters, and Haiti, Chile and the Burma cyclone fresh in memory, a relentless donation requirement is perhaps taking a toll.
Pakistan's corrupt leadership, showcasing incompetence by touring Europe in times of crisis, has widened the chasm, while its tarnished image as a sanctuary for terrorists has done no favours. Fear of donation money getting in the wrong hands, corrupt politicians or the terrorist groups, is widespread. Even people in Pakistan are contributing privately and avoiding relief funds set up by the present government.
Some also cite their dislike of the high military spending in the past, instead of infrastructure development.
However it is undoubtedly the biggest disaster of our lifetimes, with the poorest being hit the hardest. Around 20 million have been displaced and many of them left with nothing but their tattered clothes. Alarms have been raised on a new wave of deaths – in thousands – unless medicines, food and water supplies are restored.
Medical camps in various parts of the country are starting to report deaths due to water-borne diseases and even dehydration.
While reservations about money not being rightly channelled are understandable, people can still donate to international charities (UNICEF, Red Cross, Islamic Relief and Oxfam) which ensure transparent usage of their contributions. Swift and world-scale effort is needed now.
Dr Haroon Junaidi