By Muhammad Akram
LAHORE: Except Kuwait, Turkey and the UAE, Pakistan has failed to receive any aid for its flood victims from any other Islamic country. The three countries have offered $5 million, $269,183 and $20,027 respectively, so far. While China with $1,479,290 and Sri Lanka with $26,667 are the only neighbouring countries that have come to the country’s aid.
According to statistics, the countries most hated by Pakistanis – as per various opinion polls – the US and UK are the two major contributors so far, while the list of remaining donors does not include any Islamic country, however, prominent donors include Germany, France, Greece, Czech Republic, Sweden and Australia. According to the information available, the total amount pledged to Pakistan so far is $84,294,357, much lower than what the UN has sought in its various appeals to the international community.
The UN has launched an appeal for more than $450 million to help those affected. At least 1,600 people have died and many more are missing. This has happened at a time when Pakistan has issued new flood warnings that could last into the weekend as government and relief agencies scramble to confront the toll from a growing into a humanitarian disaster. The UN says, “Floods have decimated Pakistan: the number of people suffering could exceed 13 million – more than the combined total of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.”
The people of Pakistan, particularly flood victims, want to know what has happened to the rulers and people of Iran and Saudi Arabia, which have not expressed any intent, let alone offering anything in aid to their Pakistani brothers and sisters. The aid to Pakistan would not be for its rulers, if there existed any misgivings, but for the people who have yet to find means to survive, as a new flood of an almost equal intensity is about to hit various districts of Sindh and Punjab this weekend.
As far as neighbours such as India and Afghanistan are concerned, Pakistan can least expect from both, since none of the two had offered anything so far. As for India, which offered $500 million in aid during the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the offer was refused by Pakistani authorities in the first place and whatever was allowed in was let to rot at security checkposts on the border.
Pakistan has always looked to Saudi Arabia whenever it faced a difficulty. According to diplomatic sources, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are not enjoying the best of ties since the PPP government assumed power, replacing the quasi-military government of Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf, with whom the Saudi rulers had the best of relations like they had with every military ruler in Pakistan. The FO had always played down the souring ties with Saudi Arabia, said a source in the office.
However, international relations experts say a lukewarm response from Saudi Arabia and Iran is difficult to understand, as it is not the government but the people of Pakistan who are suffering and awaiting aid from both the countries.
It is important to mention here the appeal made by Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Chairman Mufti Munibur Rehman on the eve of the Ramazan moon-sighting, to the Pakistanis intending to perform Haj and Umra this year to cancel their plans and spend the money for the flood-hit people instead. Taking a hint from the appeal, the government would be justified in banning Haj by Pakistanis this year as done by Tunisia last year due to fears of swine flu.