Pakistan flood: Unaided

Posted on: 19 August 2010 by Editor at Large

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has called upon the western world to come to the aid of the flood victims of Pakistan. The aid needed is around £270 million. Only £70 has been pledged so far. He’s surprised there haven’t been more pledges. I’m surprised that he’s surprised!

It could be that the catastrophe is not quite catastrophic enough: not enough people have died to grab our attention in the same way that the Tsunami did in 2004 or the earthquake in Haiti at the beginning of this year.

A cynic might say the TV footage isn’t as 'entertaining' as those catastrophes were and Pakistan is just not commanding viewer attention or, more significantly, compassion.

I have a different slant on all this. I think we just don’t want to pay because it’s Pakistan.

We are conditioned to think negatively about Pakistan. Racism is still very much alive here in the UK.The fact that Pakistan is an Islamic republic also feeds this antipathy.

We've started to hear a lot about the corruption of Pakistan's ruling elite, from President Asif Ali Zardari downwards (he was recently referred to as 'Mr 10 per cent' for the bribes he extorted on government contracts when he was a minister in the 1990s.) Recent leaked reports suggest that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has ties with the Taliban with money illegally skimmed from US foreign aid payments.

All in all it shows that perhaps our compassion may be limited to the countries that support or are at least neutral toward us.

This is all very sad. This antagonism is hurting the poor and vulnerable, children and old people, the weak and dispossessed.

Will this change? I think not. In simple terms, the West is highly suspicious of Pakistan. We don't like what we believe it stands for, we don't like how it is run and we don't like the people who run it.

The cold, hungry, homeless and destitute victims of the flood need our help. Unfortunately for them Britons have a deep seated mistrust of their country so their suffering must continue.

Help is being purposely withheld from a nation because of its politics, religion and leaders.

Do you agree or disagree? Post your comments below I'd love to be proven wrong.

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