Why is no one donating?

One month after monsoon rains caused flooding in the northern mountains, relief efforts were still in emergency mode. On Sunday, the Indus River, surging at 40 times its normal volume, breached levees near the southern city of Sujawal. Evidence is growing that the river’s path of destruction has stunted, if not annihilated, social and economic systems across Pakistan.

The effects, from increased hunger to obliterated schools, are likely to force Pakistan and the United States – which last fall earmarked billions of dollars in aid to build up Pakistan’s civilian government – to retool their development plans… Unlike the deadly jolt of the 2005 earthquake that previously ranked as Pakistan’s gravest natural disaster, the flooding metastasized like a cancer, submerging an area nearly as large as Florida. With much of the south still underwater, assessing the damage remains guesswork. Where the waters have receded, officials bandy about figures in the sums of millions and billions of dollars.

But there is little doubt that the losses are colossal. The government says 1.2 million houses, 10,000 schools, 35 bridges and 9 percent of the national highway system have been were damaged or destroyed. Even as emergency workers in the northern mountains build temporary bridges, landslides smother more roads. [Link]

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But by all accounts, nobody is giving:

The amount of foreign donations given per flood victim is very low compared to other such disasters. The figures for the Haiti earthquake, tsunami, and Kashmir earthquake were $1087.33, $1249.80, and $388.33 respectively. For the Pakistan floods, the world has given only $16.36 per victim. [Link]

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p>So the question on everyone’s mind is why? Why were we able to open our wallets when faced with such staggering tragedy in all those other instances but not now?

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p>The Atlantic offers four possibilities:

(1) Pakistan lacks Haiti’s network of Western charities. Pakistan, particularly the flooded areas, has a global reputation for being dangerous. It is also, of course, Muslim. As a result, it lacks Haiti’s pre-existing network of Christian humanitarian organizations and missionaries that have been growing in the country for decades. Those Christian missionaries in Haiti, predominantly Americans doing a combination of religious and humanitarian work, were so important because they could use American churches as a vast grassroots network to communicate Haiti’s plight to Americans and especially to raise money. But Pakistan has no such large-scale, long-term presence, which had made it far more difficult to tap into the vast fundraising resource of Christian America.

(2) Pakistan doesn’t look like a friend to many Americans. Although it has nothing to do with the floods, Pakistan has had a spate of recent bad press in America. The Wikileaks document dump in July brought national attention to the long-held concerns of U.S. intelligence officials that factions in Pakistan’s military intelligence service (ISI) may be sponsoring some of the Taliban militants responsible for killing 1,241 Americans. The flood victims, many of whom are children, have nothing to do with the duplicitous practices of the ISI, and extremism in Pakistan could be curbed dramatically by a robust U.S. humanitarian response. However, many Americans are likely wondering why they should voluntarily shed their increasingly scant disposable income to help a country that is far from a robust ally. Even before the Wikileaks story, a Gallup poll of Americans found overwhelmingly negative attitudes toward Pakistan.

(3) Islam is not popular in America right now. Pakistan is one of the world’s largest Muslim states. That puts it at a disadvantage in the U.S., where the recent controversy over the Cordoba Islamic cultural center planned for lower Manhattan has generated alarmingly widespread Islamophobia. Groups have begun protesting mosques and Islamic family centers across the country. Recent polling reports that only 55 percent of Americans call Muslims “loyal Americans,” 32 percent say Muslims should be blocked from running for president, and 28 say they should be forbidden from joining the Supreme Court. An all-time high of 18 percent believe President Obama is Muslim, which is widely seen as an expression of rising hostility towards Muslims. The polling shows Islam to be especially unpopular among U.S. conservatives, many of whom are part of the same Christian humanitarian network that was so active in responding to Haiti.

(4) The floods make for bad TV. As many in the U.S. have pointed out, the flooding in Pakistan has received light and undramatic TV news coverage relative to Haiti and other humanitarian disasters. The New York Times’ Neil MacFarquhar described the floods as not being as sufficiently “dramatic, emotional, [or] telegenic” as the earthquakes and tsunamis that so opened American wallets. Others have described the floods as a “slow motion” disaster that cannot be effectively conveyed in a single photograph or piece of video. Just as importantly, reporters do not have the same freedom of mobility Pakistan as they had in Haiti, both because Haiti is so close to the U.S. east coast and because of the danger of traveling in some regions of Pakistan. [Link]

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p>I personally believe the reason is a combination of donor fatigue and bad publicity (see #2 above), along with the fact that flooding is a drawn out tragedy that doesn’t make for dramatic TV (see #4). But I think another major reason, not included in the list above, is the fact that many Americans are aware that Pakistan gets a lot of aid from the U.S. already. We are not making the necessary distinction between aid that goes to the government to “combat terrorism” vs. aid that is needed to help the general populace stay healthy and keep from starving during a natural disaster. Whatever the reason, the people on the lowest rung of the luck ladder are left without a lifeline.

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62 thoughts on “Why is no one donating?

  1. Abhi: Thanks for the post. I just donated to CARE. You may be right. Americans are experiencing “Donor Fatigue”. I hope the money really goes to the needy, and not in pockets of some Pakistani “Babu”.

  2. hehe. Here are more reasons,

    1. Because we so trust that the money we pour in is going to help the flood victims and not funneled away to fund the military or jihadi elements like all the aid that is poured into Pakistan from the west, east, north and south

    2. Because we so trust the victims and country to show reciprocity to our charitable actions just like what they have been showing for the billions in aid that west has been pouring into Pakistan since that country got independence

    3. Because we so trust that country to offer a fair share of that aid to its religious minorities instead of using the flood as a context to persecute them further

    4. Because we so trust the people and the government to protect the lives of the aid workers and medical personnel from the threats of jihadis http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100826/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_floods

    5. Because providing aid and charity is the sole duty of the west, while the oil cash rich countries like Saudi, UAE etc etc are excused if they don’t feel so charitable

    Abhi, your argument about the distinction between the aids to government and to flood victims is not thought out. No government or country or community can subsist solely on aid or subsidies. That is unsustainable. The military aid should have freed up government revenues that would go for other expenditures such as flood relief. To expect the world to pick the tab for every thing is unreasonable. And what has the Pakistani leadership doing with the foreign aid? Diverting it to anti-India operations, of course. So are we to subsidize the Paki government’s misrule? Of course the biggest culprit (Paki leadership) never gets blamed. It is always the West’s fault if sufficient aid is not provided. Assigning blame to the guilty parties is a key dimension of morality and your article which reflects your attitudes, show no morality when you tacitly blame the west. So am I being an Abhiphobe or do I have a nativism problem, or an economic problem? If Abhi can call critics (such as me) of jihad and its enabling beliefs and tenets Islamophobia, can’t I call Abhi a Westphobe? Or will that earn me a ban from this site by the mod? Funny thing is despite Abhi’s westphobia, he continues to live and probably thrive in the West. The irony is obvious to all.

    If sufficient aid was given to the flood victims, it would be a win-win situation. Win (questionable) for the victims and win for the Pakistani leadership and jihadi outfits. And lose for us aid givers, because we are subsidizing the jihadis. We want a win-lose situation, win for the flood victims lose for the jihadis. Can Abhi or somebody else write an article on that subject.

    • If Abhi can call critics (such as me) of jihad and its enabling beliefs and tenets Islamophobia, can’t I call Abhi a Westphobe?

      This statement is incomprehensible, especially grammatically. I’d urge you to try out your new word “westphobe” and see how well it catches on.

  3. is the fact that many Americans are aware that Pakistan gets a lot of aid from the U.S. already.

    i suspect you overestimate the geopolitical awareness of the american public (this is not an anti-american statement, i am of the opinion that the average human is dull and ignorant).

    my friend holden of give well have a few thoughts on optimizing your $ impact (holden & company are also spending the next 6 months in idea).

    also see jonah leher’s post, The Identifiable Victim Bias.

  4. We’ve donated to CARE and the Red Cross. Basically, I think people don’t know where to send the money.

    I wish the Indian government would help out more…what better way to show good will. The desperation of those people is breaking my heart.

    I agree with “nondesinidian” above. Why aren’t those obscenely rich Sheiks from Saudi, etc. not taken to task for their lack of action? Very frustrating and infuriating.

  5. nondesiindian said it, Pakistan has a very tarnished image in the West and in India, which I believe is the main reason behind peoples donor fatigue. You may argue its unfair to their population, but its nevertheless so.

    Luckily Pakistan also has very rich and powerful friends in the Middle East and China, or are these countries more interested in waging a modern crusade for Islam in the case of the arabs that donates millions to madrassas and in Chinas case are they mostly interested in the strength of Pakistan’s military rather than the well being of its people.

  6. Another reason for the lack of interest is that Pakistan has refused aid from India for some unstated reasons (Although they were later forced to accept it). It has also refused aid from Britain because the British Prime Minister said something about Pakistan being exporters of terrorism. If they have money for F16′s and nuclear bombs they can find some for their poor people if they want. If they can refuse aid from some countries then maybe they have enough stashed away. Its better that Pakistan is left to fend for itself.

  7. Plus everyone knows Mr. 10% will take his cut and his ministers will cut up the pie..and the remaining 10% that will go towards aid will not go far. Who wants to bet there will be a scandal involving ministers vacationing in switzerland next year?

    But goes to see- not one global indian sindhi (hindu) charity/ org has called on their members to donate to this cause. And they won’t. Remember 1947.

  8. Why doesn’t Pakistan sell some of Billions and Billions worth of F-16 to feed its population? I am sure there are tons of countries who would be willing to help out a country in need.

    India offered $5 Million dollars which pakistan accepted after being forced from US. Then, India raised its support to $25 Million, but now Pakistan wants it be routed through UN / World Bank so that its population doesn’t find out that followers of Mohammad had to borrow money from Kafir Yindooos!!

    Why aren’t Pakistan’s religious brothers in other Islamic countries or Pakistan’s “all-weather” friend China helping out? Why Pakistan is still begging for money from America and other Western countries that they hate so much.

    I think the answer is everyone has realized the true potential of Pakistan.

  9. This disaster also lacks the staggering initial death toll of the others, (~2,000 vs. 80,000 or 200,000+) so many people probably don’t understand how truly serious it is, especially in the long term…

  10. Re yabadaba:

    But goes to see- not one global indian sindhi (hindu) charity/ org has called on their members to donate to this cause. And they won’t. Remember 1947.

    Interesting. Bangladeshis like me remember 1971 quite vividly. But I don’t think most of us complained about the Bangladeshi government sending $2 million in humanitarian aid to the flood victims — one doesn’t hold the current generation responsible for the atrocities of their predecessors.

    Re Tutu:

    Luckily Pakistan also has very rich and powerful friends in the Middle East and China, or are these countries more interested in waging a modern crusade for Islam in the case of the arabs that donates millions to madrassas and in Chinas case are they mostly interested in the strength of Pakistan’s military rather than the well being of its people.

    The cynic in me believes that the strategic move on the part of at least these Middle Eastern “friends” would be to withhold (or at least slow down to a trickle) humanitarian aid sent directly to the Pakistani government or organizations like Red Cross/Red Crescent, while lavishly funding relief efforts through their client madrassas so as to encourage the Pakistanis to have even less faith in the central government, and make them more vulnerable and receptive to the Wahhabi brand of Islam promulgated by the madrassas.

  11. Sad. But could it be that islamophobia is more widespread than some would like to admit? Maybe Pakistan should open itself to more Western (ahem, Christian) charities?

  12. All of what you wrote is true, but as others have said, it is not the whole story. China is Pakistan’s number one military supplier, has given it nuclear technology, and is helping Pakistan to build major infrastructure, such as the port at Gwadar. Yet, China is not offering up much aid, nor is the Chinese public terribly concerned, possibly also due to the fact that western China has experienced severe flooding as well.

    Second, Pakistan’s poor resource management. For decades, successive government has used water as a reward to political bosses. Well-connected landowners could get water re-routed, and then turn around and sell the water at inflated prices to their poorer neighbors. By contrast, Bangladesh has invested in flood control measures so that the likelihood of such devastating floods is greatly reduced.

    Third, their bloated military. It is estimated that Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile already exceeds India’s, despite the fact that it has a smaller economy. Some unofficial estimates put defense expenditures at up to 20% of GDP. If they are unwilling to cut back, it becomes harder to believe them when they say, “We need your help.”

    Fourth, while some Muslim nations are starting to step up with assistance, they are not taking the lead. It also seems that the aid is from one government to another. Are they sending volunteers to help out Pakistan? For that matter, are wealthy Pakistanis, inside and in their diaspora, doing what they can.

    Obviously, the ones who suffer the most are ordinary Pakistanis, who had nothing to do with their government’s poor planning and misplaced priorities. While the Pakistani state has been looking after its own interests, Pakistani society is left to fend for itself.

  13. It seems like the lack of coverage (ie. I was inundated by “help Haiti!” ads on Hulu for months after the Haiti earthquake; nothing so far for Pakistan) is conflating with disaster fatigue and distrust of the gov’t. I personally do not trust my funds to make it to an actual victim in any meaningful sense. Mr. 10% has a reputation.

    As to the snide religious remarks, they’re all infantile. Esp “Maybe Pakistan should open itself to more Western (ahem, Christian) charities?”. Maybe people should go secular when it comes to humanitarian crises? n

    Initial US response, I have to add, was miserable.

  14. Just a thought on Pakistan’s defense budget – I don’t endorse such high defense spending but Pakistan does face an existential threat from India. Furthermore, it is facing considerable security threats elsewhere. I think it’s unrealistic to argue that Pakistan should unilaterally reduce its defense budget without India doing the same, or the US scaling down its military presence in Afghanistan. I think Abhi’s got a point with the Islamophobia; it is possible that many more Americans may have been willing to donate had Pakistan been a largely Christian country.

  15. isnt this where islamic charities should step up? those guys talk a big game and have oil money. lets see if they are actually capable charities, or if they just fund all sorts of problems…

  16. Dismissing Americans’ concerns about Pakistan not being a friend as merely “bad press” seems a bit disingenuous. The press is bad because the deeds the press reported were bad. Pakistan has not, in fact, been a very good ally to the US. Pakistan, after all, was the one that continued to support and prop-up the Taliban in Afghanistan long after they had become a pariah state solely because they wanted it as a strategic reserve and source of cannon fodder in their neverending war with India. There were also the stories, and a plank during the 2008 election, about how so much of our military aid to Pakistan was being used to shore-up warfighting tools against India rather than to build up their capacity for waging the counterinsurgency for which that aid had been earmarked. So waving this sort of stuff away as merely “bad press” doesn’t do anything to counter the legitimacy of peoples’ concerns.

    The biggest travesty, of course, is that’s it’s always going to be the guy who keeps his head down and minds his business that gets fucked over when these things happen. The assholes who have sown the wind aren’t going to be the ones to reap the whirlwind. But maybe if people actually come face to face with the real humanitarian consequences of supporting praetorian, irredentist, militarized governments they’d learn a lesson about what happens when you go to bat for the aforementioned for decades. Nah that’ll never happen. We’re just going to be seeing more of this around the world for quite a while.

  17. ‘existential threat from India’- what rubbish. The only Indians who care one whit about Pakistan are those Punjabis who originally came from the territories now comprising Pakistan. Other Indians would rather not have anything do with the terrorist country. Pakistan was born in terror, and now lives by terror.

  18. “‘existential threat from India’- what rubbish.”

    LOL – he reads Newsweek – you see he had to that esoteric sounding term.

    Americans are catching up – They sort of realize the futility of pumping money in a Pakistan which tops the list of most anti-American countries in this world. It is not that US has not given aid to Pakistan. Following is a list (via wiki) of aid that American tax-payers have provided to Pakistan since 9/11. (numbers are in $Billions$)

    Year↓ Military ↓ Economic 2002 1.36 1.233 for 2002 to 2004 2003 1.500 1.233 for 2002 to 2004 2004 1.200 1.233 for 2002 to 2004 2005 1.313 .338 2006 1.260 .539 2007 1.115 .567 2008 1.435 .507 2009 1.689 1.366 2010 1.232 1.409 2011 1.685 unknown Total 11.740 billion 6.08 billion

  19. The flood victims in Pakistan are innocent people. The world should care more about the Pakistani flood victims but now finally the poor international image of Pakistan is hurting the people.

    In Pakistan although not all the citizens are Muslims many are and this turns off the western world. It is not fair to stereotype Muslim people but in the western media people are afraid of the other.

    The Atlantic article is correct it is not politically correct to say but Pakistan has a poor image in the international community. The Atlantic article ignored one area the violence against women in

    Pakistan. It is well known honour killings, rape, murder, lack of proper education for Pakistani women is a serious human rights issue. The image of Pakistan to to the rest of world is this country

    is a very misognist nation. I think if India had a flood or problems the world would probably be more supportive.

    Haiti is close to the United States and a lot of Christian organizations are already in Haiti. Even though some Haitians aren’t even Christian there networking was already there.

    Next, there are problems with the Taliban which some people believe Pakistan is indeed connected to terrorism. I think people feel why should they help Pakistan when the country has a poor history in relation to violence and human rights abuses?

    In fact, in Canada the Canadian government arrested a couple of young Muslim men a couple of them are from Pakistan. One of the young men is a doctor Mr. Sher appeared on an audtion for Canadian Idol! Another point to consider, why didn’t the author of this blog entry write about the fact rich Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries aren’t providing support for Pakistan either! However, the Indian government did provide money for Pakistan despite having hostile relations.

    I think if Benazir Bhutto was still alive and was the president of Pakistan the country’s image on the world stage would be better and more improved. Benazir wasn’t perfect and I am not suggesting she is. However, Benazir Bhutto was a feminist and she cared about Pakistani women and human rights issues for women in Pakistan. It isn’t just the west that isn’t helping Pakistan the Muslim world doesn’t seem to care either.

  20. “LOL – he reads Newsweek – you see he had to that esoteric sounding term.”

    More like Ma’ariv or Jerusalem Times.

    “The image of Pakistan to to the rest of world is this country is a very misognist nation.”

    Not to bust your bubble, but India has a similar reputation. Acid attacks, female feticide, and honor killings are just as common to Hindus as they are to Muslims. Pakistan’s is worse due to the Taliban factor alongside Benazir’s fairly recent assassination.

  21. So let me get this straight – you have a country with over 600,000 troops (doesnt include the various para-militaries), a country that just spent $10B to acquire F-16 fighter jets, a country with an enormous nuclear stockpile, that has received US tax dollars (including my modest contributions) to the tune of $1b per year for the last 10 years.

    And, this country should be compared to Haiti?? What kind of “liberal” thinking is this?

    I am sorry that innocent people are getting hurt, they need to throw their govt out and do something about the billions being stolen by their govt. Alternatively, we should delimitarize the country and declare it a protectorate of the UN. At that point, the global community would be responsible for the welfare of these folks.

  22. Crisis of such large scale transcend all geo-political debates. This is a massive humanitarian crisis, the fall out of which will affect everyone in that region and beyond, guaranteed. Take it from someone who just returned after a survey of the affected areas. I’ve been assisting private volunteers with relief aid. After our success in haiti, we are working on a short to midterm drinking water solution for that region. As all involved are professionals from various fields including executives, artists, journalists who bear their own costs, there are no overheads. All aid is passed through to the deserving. If you are interested in assisting with this task, please donate (funds and/or effort) here if you can. http://www.Studio2012.info

    Peace & Blessings

    Yousuf

  23. Paul and Sulabh: I didn’t mean to sound esoteric, I’ve just had the misfortune of having taken graduate level International Relations courses. Pakistan has fought three major wars with India, four if you include Kargil. It has a territorial dispute with India as well. India has armed forces far more powerful than those of Pakistan. Surely these are grounds enough for Pakistan to maintain a fairly large defense budget. Once again, I’m sure the money would be better spent on schools/hospitals, but the Pakistani security community has good reasons for spending as much as they do.

  24. No Pakistan should be using the money to help the unfortunate instead of expecting the western world for handouts. Many Americans are very cynical about Pakistan because of the terrorism ties to the Taliban. The Pakistani government needs to be spending more money to help women and children improve their lives and less on war. Also, the Muslim world doesn’t seem to care about Pakistan either. Why do people expect the west to automatically help Pakistan? India is not even a friend of Pakistan yet India offered help and it was pathetic that Pakistan had to be pushed to accept some support. Pakistan has a poor image in the international community and the worst part is innocent victims are suffering. The innocent people of Pakistan should revolt against the government.

  25. to clarify, I’m not saying that charitable donations constitute material support. but the law is defined broadly and has been interpreted quite broadly to encompass charities. again, this probably doesn’t discourage donations as much as it signals how most Americans probably view charitable donations to Pakistan (as most Americans probably think material support should be defined broadly and enforced liberally).

  26. There’s really no need to get personal Alberuni. If you disagree with my arguments go for it don’t call me names.

  27. Aniruddha,

    Your misfortune was not in taking a graduate level international relations course, but one that did not alert you to the fact that Pakistan started all four of those wars with India. They were wars of choice fueled by irredentism and misguided state ideology. As someone whose name indicates an Indian origin, you really should know your Indian history better. The natural disaster facing Pakistan is truly tragic. As always, the common people suffer. But let us not excuse the militarism of this state with incomplete knowledge of history. So no, Pakistan’s defense spending is not defensible. The military needs to return to the barracks not only on paper, but in practice.

    Anyhow, this post isn’t about the complexities of the Indo-Pakistani strategic balance (and I don’t want to throw this thread off, just correct perceptions), but about people struck by a tragedy who need relief. The question is ensuring that the people who need the aid get it, without enrichment of the military complex in that country.

    But I do agree about focusing on the arguments.

  28. Dear AnirudhhaBose, Master of International Relations, Maybe you missed this class, but let me remind you that in every war fought by Pakistan & India, Pakistan was the aggressor. India has never been a credible unilater threat to Pakistan’s safety and sovereignity. So yes, if a country deems jingoistic warmongering is of higher priority than spending the billions of aid money received on building more dykes and dams to protect people, then they don’t deserve to carry a begging bowl.

  29. Aniruddha,

    I don’t think anyone would say that Pakistan should not have any army or be in a position to defend itself.. However, I don’t see how Pakistan faces an existential threat from India. The Pakistani military for its own purposes raises the idea of the Indian bogey to shore up support, but even in 1971 when India had decisively defeated the Pakistani army, it did not attempt to absorb or destroy the Pakistani State, if that was its true intention, and it really was a threat to the existence of Pakistan as you claimed.

  30. Maybe I came out sounding too sympathetic to the Pakistani military establishment, but I don’t feel very comfortable thinking that Pakistani defense spending get’s us off the hook when it comes to helping people out.

    • Does the Pakistani government’s dereliction of their own duty put us on the hook for taking care of its people?

  31. The more money the army, the feudals and the Pakistani state is forced to spend towards the relief of it’s own people (and they have far more money stashed away than the international community has pledged so far), the less money would be available to them to plan, fund and execute terror in India and elsewhere. If they refuse to spend the money, they would have an internal rebellion to contend with sooner rather than later. The money is already there, generously (and with selfish motives) provided by the world community over several decades. It’s redistribution is the problem. These kind of natural disasters often herald revolutions. Who knows, maybe Pakistan is heading towards one.

  32. “Paul and Sulabh: I didn’t mean to sound esoteric, I’ve just had the misfortune of having taken graduate level International Relations courses.”

    Ok. Sorry – So you are familiar with the term and you know what are you talking about – still don’t you sometimes think “existential threat” (posed by India) is a rather nonsensical theory and a lame excuse for the aggressive posturing by Pakistani military?

    The flood waters are reaching further south Indians and Pakistanis are waging a battle that is opposite of what they were doing a few months ago, which is directing as much water as they can in other’s territory.

    Pakistan is also refusing direct assistance from India. Some Pakistani’s would like Indians to share the blame for this rather strange behavior by the Pakistan Government. These people say that there is a trust deficit between the two countries and India too has to share the responsibility for that. DO you also think that ‘trust deficit’ is causing Pakistanis to accept Indian aid? At this time of crisis, when thousands of children are at risk – is it appropriate for them to prop their argument against the idiotic “existential threat”/”trust deficit” theory?

  33. “Pakistan is also refusing direct assistance from India. Some Pakistani’s would like Indians to share the blame for this rather strange behavior by the Pakistan Government. These people say that there is a trust deficit between the two countries and India too has to share the responsibility for that. DO you also think that ‘trust deficit’ is causing Pakistanis to accept Indian aid? At this time of crisis, when thousands of children are at risk – is it appropriate for them to prop their argument against the idiotic “existential threat”/”trust deficit” theory?”

    You’re probably right Sulabh. The Pakistani government could have handled this much better.

    “Does the Pakistani government’s dereliction of their own duty put us on the hook for taking care of its people?”

    I feel that we (middle/upper middle class South Asians) are beneficiaries of American/South Asian capitalism, and since that is a system which exploits poor Indians and Pakistanis we are morally obligated to help irrespective of whether the Pakistani government is doing a good job or not.

  34. Pakistan needs $ to help its flood victims. World is not helping, for right or wrong reasons. So what is wrong with Pakistan exporting/selling what it HAS to import/buy desperately needed flood relief supplies.

    One of the things Pak does have is nuclear know-how and technology. If the world at large is not interested in helping Pak then why shouldn’t Pak export and sell some of these (very) high demand nuclear know how and technologies, to lets say some neighboring countries or maybe some middle-eastern states who have lots of $ to buy such goodies ?

    • “then why shouldn’t Pak export and sell some of these (very) high demand nuclear know how and technologies, to lets say some neighboring countries or maybe some middle-eastern states who have lots of $ to buy such goodies ?”

      Lol. You think they haven’t tried. Pakistan has exported nuclear technologies to countries like North Korea, Iran, Iraq etc.Look up AQ Khan. Lot of good it did to Pakistani people.

  35. “One of the things Pak does have is nuclear know-how and technology. If the world at large is not interested in helping Pak then why shouldn’t Pak export and sell some of these (very) high demand nuclear know how and technologies, to lets say some neighboring countries or maybe some middle-eastern states who have lots of $ to buy such goodies ?”

    Totally brilliant idea.

  36. “………… and since that is a system which exploits poor Indians and Pakistanis……………………………………………………….”

    Hold on. You are going to have to substantiate this little gem.

  37. nondesiIndian said: “Hold on. You are going to have to substantiate this little gem.”

    Hahaha. the lefties feel no need to substantiate that. It is taken as a give that the rich can only get rich by “exploiting” the poor. That this is a zero sum game.

    Sorry for taking this off topic.


  38. DONATE:

    Text “SWAT” to 50555 from your phone to give $10 and help the flood victims in Pakistan.

    The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has partnered with mGive again to allow mobile contributions for the flood victims in Pakistan.


    May work better as you can spread your donation across over a period of few weeks (versus giving $50-100 in one shot).

  39. I’m not sure how identifying as “South Asian” leads to an automatic loss of credibility in this type of discussion. Having stated that, I’m not sure how taking a international relations course leads to automatic authority on the subject in the absence of a thought out argument or evidence substantiating an assertion. ‘Course, that may just be my international law course(s) talking ;) .

    With respect to the situation at hand, there is no doubt that the impact of the floods is affecting a number of relatively innocent people. Personally, however, I lack the confidence that the net result of the aid will be positive in an overall sense. Firstly, while I am usually aware that some portion of any aid gets skimmed off the top and can live with that, in this particular situation I am confident that the majority of the aid will NOT find its way to the intended beneficiaries. Even if it lands in their hands, it will be taken by someone with more, shall we say, clout and may be used for purposes that I personally find reprehensible. That may be due to poor charitable infrastructure or due to other reasons but the end result is the same. My confidence may be misplaced and due to bad press, but regardless, there are (to my mind) better claims on my “Your Money or Your Life” after tax dollars.

    Secondly, I am not sure why (if the press is to be believed), a country that has pretty dramatically and repeatedly decided to choose guns over butter then gets to come hit up the international community when it turns out that bread without condiments tastes like crap. By assisting such nations when things go to pot as the logical end result of neglect in an area, aren’t you in effect representing to the leaders that they can act with impunity because even if they screw things up really badly, they can run around cap in hand and be relieved from the consequences of their actions? Pakistan sees itself as an ostensible democracy, ergo surely the remedy for perceived erroneous policy direction is at the polls? And if, despite some reports that 20% of Pakistanis could be displaced or disadvantaged, the remaining 80% sees no reason to change course, why is it incumbent on the international community to assist in ameliorating the consequences of this policy choice, string free? Does the rest of the world help the millions of Americans without affordable health care? I hear the arguments that failure to act will enable extremism to take root and threaten the world. That is a distinct possibility but one which also has pretty clear “shame if something happened to your nice family” mafioso overtones. While some people respond well to such implied threats others do not. Students of history/psychology/geopolitics/addiction could also argue that if a country is repeatedly bailed out of its problems, there is no incentive for the populace to rally for change.

    Thirdly, I believe that the past few months have taken a huge financial toll on the so called rich nations. I suspect that a significant proportion of the populace that may previously have been in a position to give has seen such discretionary income shrink dramatically and/or feels much more pessimistic about its own future. Capitalism doesn’t just exploit poor Pakistanis. In that case, it is unfair to expect the same level of genorosity as years past, especially given the other factors.

    Finally, and I suspect more relevant to many of the members on this site, to those that have witnessed or been informed of the results of Pakistani actions or policy, why would they want to support that populace in the absence of being able to influence change? I can certainly see why Pakistan’s leaders and populace may have taken the positions they did, even if I ultimately disagree with them (strategic advantage, some of us believe that birth control is bad and so are Christians and infidels, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Hyderabad should by all logic be ours etc.). But the end result has had a negative impact on various denizens of this board. Why should these proverbial frogs assist the scorpion across the river? If there was some sort of ability to influence policy change or even the profile of the donors (e.g. U.S. presence in the distribution of aid) there might be more impetus. Otherwise, it kind of seems like you are just pre-emptively handing the school bully your lunch money, no?

    • i disagree with your worldview. this will be communicated by stretching the metaphor too far :)

      the school bullies already have your lunch money, and largely work together, though sometimes they get into small tiffs and very infrequently into major fights. the school allows smaller classroom bullies to operate in each classroom and one or more of the major school bullies gives your classroom bully a small cut in exchange for more or less doing what he wants. Then the door to your classroom is locked from the outside by the school bully, and you have no lunch for about 200 consecutive days. then some other people start begging him to throw some food in the window, which he refuses to do and instead gives a small amount of your lunch money to the classroom bully so he’ll fight with certain people in your class.

      then two thirds of your classroom gets flooded, the door is still locked, and no one outside pays attention.

      if you prefer sound history to stories, try ayesha jalal in south asia and world capitalism (there’s a booklength version of her essay) or ian talbot or chrstophe jaffrelot or any number of others on the history of pakistan or mushtaq khan on the political economy of pakistan. such interesting facts emerge as: at independence, india inherited 90% of the industry in british india while pakistan inherited 10%; the u.s. and the uk actively promoted militarism and the military in pakistan just after independence, building on what the uk had done during colonialism when pakistan was a border area and punjabis were racialised as a ‘martial race’; pakistan had a relatively successful industrial policy in the 1950s; islamism in pakistan only took force after zia; the military now always runs things in pakistan, even during ‘civilian periods’ like the 1990s and increasing social and economic power and this has been directly fueled by the united states in its anti-soviet cold war funding as well as its ‘war on terror’ funding.

      etc etc etc – as in pakistan is a real place with a real history and social context that is part of a broader history and social context; it doesn’t exist solely in the imagination of indian nationalists or the game theorisation of internationalists in the west or the imaginations of pakistani islamists. this is kind of crucial because to me, pakistan currently seems like a country that is being pushed into political instability by external powers, has an ongoing nuclear standoff with a neighboring country and occasional conventional wars, does not have profoundly socially responsive social institutions.

      so if you care about such things as peace, indian industrialisation, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, etc., even if you couldn’t give a f”£k about ordinary pakistanis, it’s probably in your best interests to consider what happens when 1/3 of a country and 20 million people get affected by a humanitarian disaster.

      but that’s the realpolitik argument – i think it makes more sense to simply try to help because help is needed ;)

  40. In re: the previous comment (about electric wires etc.): Not only is this hateful it is pointless. Harming the general Pakistani population is extremely unlikely to have any benefits for the general Indian population.

  41. there will be much banning and deleting as soon as daddy comes home. Take out all the garbage at once :)

  42. @Chodonchukchuk

    [deleted by admin]

    Anyway I am also against giving any Aid. Hopefully with the worsening conditions poor Pakistani people will rise up against their vampire like Elite and the Military-Feudal Complex of Pakistan, which has been the bane of both India and Pakistan for last 60 years, will come crashing down.

  43. Thanks for this post. These links might be helpful too:

    http://www.wikihow.com/Help-the-Flood-Victims-in-Pakistan http://www.msf.org/ (i tend to give money through them regardless of the natural disaster and trust them to do what is appropriate in whatever part of the world rather than donating to a specific fund) http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/homistan/donate_for_pakistan_flood_2010.html (generally good resource on pakistan, post on disaster relief in this situation) http://www.juancole.com/2010/08/8104.html (to see how early the points were made by reputable sources)

    With regard to why people aren’t paying attention enough to care, I don’t know what the reason is, but my guess is foreign, Muslim, and poor with a large dose of bad publicity in the American media is enough to condemn Pakistani people to lack of international response.

    I don’t think the ‘flood doesn’t make good tv’ angle works because you just had the fifth anniversary of Katrina, with many eloquent statements about floods, lots of imagery, etc. It was, in fact, the best news hook that I can imagine, but it wasn’t used very often. Why?

    Doing my best to ignore boring trolls.

  44. People want to make sure their money will go to the population in need – especially the non-Muslim populations that someone above pointed out is being discriminated against even during this difficult time. Not cool. Plus some aid workers have been killed trying to help the flood victims. Why don’t the oil money Middle East countries lead the charge? I wonder how much of that is due to something that rarely gets discussed which is racism from Arabs. Unlike so many countries including the US they in the Middle East oil lands have money to spend. Hey it is Ramadan. Why isn’t the Muslim world a little more giving during this time of fasting? Isn’t that supposed to remind them of what it is like to be poor and hungry? Well, here is a big natural disaster right here right now, where people would benefit much more if the Muslim world lent them aid than merely fast during the day then gorge on food at night. The theory of being in solidarity with the poor in the Muslim world seems to be much more interesting than actually helping the poor – ALL the poor regardless of whether they are Muslim or Hindu, or Christian, or Sikh, or whatever in Pakistan. Plus it isn’t only Pakistan that hasn’t received as much attention and money as Haiti. There was an earthquake in Chile too I believe, and that was a blip on MSM.

    • To respond with one small piece of evidence to your series of assertions, here is data on flood aid pledged by various governments as of August 26 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/aug/09/pakistan-flood-aid.

      the largest overall donors were the united states government (@ a quarter of all aid contributed or legally committed up to that point) and the Saudi and British governments (about a tenth each). fourth was individual people and organisations. but if you take the size of the populations into account, the largest donors were scandinavian and gulf arab governments. So the argument that governments of Muslim countries are not pledging any money is ridiculous and totally besides the point.

      You can find more up to date data here: http://reliefweb.int/rw/fts.nsf/doc105?OpenForm&rc=3&emid=FL-2010-000141-PAK