Low on credibility, govt struggles for aid

Published: August 13, 2010
 Mokar, a flood-affected child eats in the compounds of a college converted into a camp outside Nowshera. photo: AFP

Mokar, a flood-affected child eats in the compounds of a college converted into a camp outside Nowshera. photo: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Mutual trust is everything when it comes to money deals. However, this is something that is lacking between international donors and the government of Pakistan, which is hampering the effort to cope with the worst-ever flooding in the country’s history.

The country’s ‘tainted’ past when it comes to spending money from multilateral and bilateral donors appears to be behind the slow pace of aid coming in from across the world as well as the apprehension that surrounds the support.

Most of the money this time is being channelised through either the United Nations agencies or other non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“The international help is coming slow because the money Pakistan got in the past was never used with a reasonable level of transparency,” said a diplomat from one of the European countries that has always been contributing generously to help the country.

He asked not to be named because diplomats are not allowed to speak about the internal matters of the country they are stationed in.

He specifically mentioned the aid of over $6 billion the international community contributed towards Pakistan’s efforts to rehabilitate the affectees of the earthquake that devastated the northwestern parts of the country and some areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir back in 2005.

Using the generous donations that poured in from the international community, the government was supposed to rebuild infrastructure and more than half a million damaged houses in the region.

Former president Pervez Musharraf had announced after the killer earthquake that a model city would be built to relocate the inhabitants of wrecked Balakot town. In fact, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the project immediately after the disaster.

But as the five-year anniversary of the earthquake approaches, there hasn’t been any significant progress on the project.

“Even the land for building a new city could not be acquired…and there are doubts it will ever happen,” an official  of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (Erra) told The Express Tribune from Peshawar.

The project is not the only black spot. The rebuilding of basic infrastructure, such as sewerage, roads and bridges, also lies stagnated in Balakot and AJK, local said.

“There hasn’t been any progress can be termed substantial,” said Muhammad Arshad Khan from Balakot. He lost his house in the tragedy and still living in a makeshift structure provide to him by the Saudi government.

Like him, most residents of the town continue to live in makeshift houses – despite the fact that Pakistan was given ‘more than enough’ international help then for this purpose.

“There are fears that same will happen again. The money we give to the government agencies might not be reaching flood affectees,” the diplomat said. On Wednesday, the UN launched an emergency appeal for $460 million in New York for immediate relief. This amount is likely to be spent through the UN subsidiaries.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, however, does not appear to agree with this.

For him, it is not because of lack of the government’s credibility that the international community is reluctant to help Pakistan this time around.

“We anticipate much more than the 2005 earthquake for Pakistan from the international community,” he said in Islamabad.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Amjad
    Aug 13, 2010 - 8:11AM

    Give UN the lead to handle all the aid. I as an individual will be reluctant to give any money to Goverment of Pakistan. The people at the top are incompetent, corrupt, uncaring and untrustworthy. Their actions speaks for themselves. It is sad but it is true.Recommend

  • Deee Haider :)
    Aug 13, 2010 - 9:19AM

    Yes… no money to be given to this wholly corrupt government. Am doing my own relief operation :) I have written all of my foreign colleagues and possible donors NOT to give any money to the government institutions, rather channelize it via local CSOs. Recommend

  • Asim
    Aug 13, 2010 - 9:36AM

    As an overseas Pakistani I donated huge money for 2005 earth quake fund relief, but this time I am reluctant.

    At first, I am angry at people of Pakistan for perpetually voting corrupt incompetent leaders into power. Second, I do not want to give away my hard earned money into some one’s secret swiss account. Third, some thing in my head tells me that people of pak. have brought this misery onto themselves and now they must lie in the bed that they made for themselves.

    However on the other hand I am really saddened at the misery of common folks.

    All of this is a huge puzzle for me and my soul is split in half : Should I donate or not ?Recommend

  • Fundy
    Aug 13, 2010 - 9:43AM

    The international donors are extremely reluctant and even overseas pakistanis are donating to UN agencies and not the embassies and high commisissions, because of the trust deficit and low credibility of the government.

    My suggestion: firstly, all Government houses like the presidents and PMs and the lodges should be closed every MNA and MPA should head back to their constituencies to look after their communities and whatever running expenses are saved should be used for the affectees.

    Secondly from the President down no one should draw a salary or perk or make a claim till the situation stabilizes.

    Qamar Zaman Qaira should be the first one to lead by example .i.e walk the talk.Recommend

  • Fundy
    Aug 13, 2010 - 10:13AM

    Isn’t it amazing that the people don’t trust the Government and the opposition which was installed through NRO negotiations by the super powers, who seem to have absolute trust in them. When will they support leaders we trust and not those who are willing to do their bidding. It is those leaders who will shape a Pakistan which can stand proudly in the comity of nations, a country safe for its citizens and for the world.

    Wake up people, what more do you want to lose before all is lost.Recommend

  • Salman
    Aug 13, 2010 - 10:23AM

    Not even a dime should be given to these corrupt, incompetent and greedy govt position holders. All money should be channeled through well known organizations like Edhi etc or UN and other donor countries should themselves get invovled in the process, otherwise it will only raise bridge between rich and poor once corrupt people are done siphoning the money off.Recommend

  • yousaf
    Aug 13, 2010 - 10:26AM

    MAKE NO MISTAKE__ donor countries should execute projects they wish to contribute under their own supervision, because thats the only way they can help the Pakistani Nation.
    Else any money given to the present setup will be used for puchase of voters or going to personal coffers.Recommend

  • KM
    Aug 13, 2010 - 11:22AM

    Give a penny to Zardari and his friends … Yeah right!

    We Pakistanis deserve the distrust the world has in us, as we are responsible for voting the kind, that should not have been there in the first place. Such is the destiny of our country which has been tainted with the wicked of us all, and again there is no one to blame, other than ourselves.

    So for people who are reluctant to donate, due to their anger over Pakistanis bringing the misery onto themselves, by getting the corrupt most to rule them, PLEASE DONATE IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, AND YOU WILL DOING SO TO GAIN PIETY, and for those who are donating already, PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU DO FOLLOW THROUGH THE ORGANIZATION, YOU ARE DONATING THROUGH.

    I as a Pakistani, would certainly not think twice to donate in the army relief fund, as they have the requisite training to manage such situations.Recommend

  • mussarat ahmedzeb swat
    Aug 13, 2010 - 11:23AM

    before it was Musharaf RAJ now it is BHUTTOistan.Recommend

  • Deee Haider :)
    Aug 13, 2010 - 12:04PM

    Donating to UN agencies is also not a good idea… You have NO idea that how expensive they are how big their overheads are.

    For example, one staffer travels into the flood affected area will charge approximately PKRs 12,500 as DSA. Don’t you think it is a bit toooooo much and shear wastage of precious money donated for some cause.

    I would suggest CSOs with less overheads and mean business.

    my two cents :)Recommend

  • ali hamdani
    Aug 13, 2010 - 12:07PM

    I must applause you for bringing this up and it nicely fits onto our situation while at the grocery store. There is no check n balance system I must say. Corruption must be eradicated from society. In greed of money we are losing our pride where as we should be thinking of the flood victims and their reliefs.Recommend

  • Amna Zaman
    Aug 13, 2010 - 12:10PM

    @amjad. Majority of citizens think like you. The main focus is to relieve the victims of flood from their misery. Even the slow aid coming in, if utilized in the right direction will be very helpful. The tainted past haunts us today at this testing time.Recommend

  • Tauseef Khan
    Aug 13, 2010 - 1:28PM

    There are very good Humanitarian Organizations that are working on the ground. I have worked with Humanity First and I know that 99% of funds donated reach the ground level. Most of their workers are volunteers so there are no perks and expensive DSAs. They were very active in Asian Tsunami, Pakistan Earthquake and Haiti.

    Please donate to http://www.humanityfirst.org.uk

  • Aug 13, 2010 - 3:45PM

    You can give your donations to Shaukat Khanum: http://www.shaukatkhanum.org.pk/how-to-help/support-groups/210.html

    You can donate via Eidhi, Pakistan Army, your Friends/Colleagues/Relatives who are visiting that area as volunteers.

    There is also a possibility that someone near your residence or in your office is affected; directly or indirectly, e.g, two family members of my office boy are lost in this incident near Gilgit (they are in no communication and hence the family is assuming they are dead by now); another of his family member is dead. And this office boy is such a nice, decent, down to earth, noble and obedient person that I haven’t seen one such example in my 31 years of age; that he can’t lie and so I have to believe him and help him out.Recommend

  • Mansoor Khalid
    Aug 13, 2010 - 6:07PM

    Transparency issues have greatly hampered the international donations coming for the flood victims. Let’s hope our elected leadership can meet this challenge.Recommend

  • Sadia Hussain
    Aug 13, 2010 - 6:25PM

    The government is indeed low on credibility as many of the donors are sending in relief goods instead of funds, the government needs to raise the bar of transparency so that lives can be saved. Recommend

  • Iftikhar
    Aug 14, 2010 - 11:29AM

    “Kya corruption per hamara haq nahin hai”-PPP minister on TV. It is sad but it is true. Recommend

  • MI
    Aug 14, 2010 - 4:21PM

    I do not support paying to UN because the organization is very very expensive. Best available option under the present situation is PAK army. They have the reuired training. Their relief efforts are commendable. I will not bet my money on PPP or PMLN or whatever because they are all corrupt. We deserve this treatment because of our own mistakes to vote them. This is high time for the nation to make committment not to vote for the corrupt politicians in future. I pray to Allah to get rid of Pakistan from the corrupt leadership (government as well as the so called opposition.)Recommend

  • Sher Zaman
    Aug 14, 2010 - 7:51PM

    The previous government received extraordinary amount of aid from a number of countries, but sadly they were not routed to the needy and were plundered. Probably that’s the reason why our government is finding it difficult to collect aid in these difficult times.Recommend

  • Noor Lodi
    Aug 16, 2010 - 12:46AM

    The people who voted for the current government are not on Facebook or internet. In fact most cannot even read english. We can talk about this all day along till you and I turn blue in the face but nothing can change. ‘We’ need to reach out to the people who vote, educate them and vote selves. Recommend

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