It is frightening to be left alone when help is urgently needed. Just imagine being stuck down a deep hole, with people standing by, but none of them willing to throw down a rope or do anything, more than look on impassively. Yet this is exactly the situation Pakistan finds itself in. There has been virtually no response at all, to a UN call for $357 million in aid to help flood victims trapped in a flood that the prime minister now concedes could be as bad as that which hit last year. The UN appeal for funds is intended to help desperate people who have received too little help.
It seems though, there is a reluctance on the part of the donors to help out this time. The Punjab Governor, Latif Khosa, told a press conference in Lahore that the international community was unwilling to help, unless third party audits and complete transparency was put in place. In other words, there has been a refusal to hand over even a single cent to Islamabad. People are suffering because of the lack of credibility of the government and the experiences of the previous year. Similar fears about accountability, in the misuse of funds, had been voiced after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake — but it seems there has been no attempt to learn from that. What we are seeing now is the direct outcome of such negligence. All that has been offered so far is a paltry $4.7 million from China and a more generous $100 million from Iran. But this will not take us very far. What this means for people is more suffering, more misery, more disease. This is obviously distressing. But what is even more disturbing is the standing of Pakistan in the world; it has been deemed an outcast, a pariah nation, a country no one is willing to stand by. The results could be devastating — now and in the future. We need to assess how we reached this state of affairs and, most importantly, how we can in the future persuade our friends in the world community to assist us in our time of need. Of course, the ideal situation would be if we didn’t have to seek external help at all.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2011.
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