This is nothing new, even before the Indus valley floods the Aid Agencies were reporting that they were having to close offices in Pakistan due to lack of funds and ‘distribution problems’ – usually another word for graft and incompetence in both Pakistan and at the UN.
Oxfam gave fair warning before the monsoon season.
An unscientific straw poll yesterday amongst work colleagues showed that nobody had donated to the Pakistan appeal, and that the buckets in the local supermarket were largely empty.
These are some of the comments-
‘It’s a rogue state, if they can afford the nuclear bomb they can look after their own’
‘Why can Chile and China deal with natural disasters and Pakistan not’
‘The money will get diverted to a corrupt elite, and not to the people worse affected.’
‘ They are sheltering terrorists, and there is no guarantee that the money will not cross the border to the Taliban and used against the British Army’
‘If Muslims are so morally superior and hate the west, why should I help them out.
‘Charity begins at home, we have enough problems here’
Gordon Brown in one of his first speeches since leaving office also proved that in the face of all the evidence to the contrary he had got it completely wrong again.
By and large there was precious little sympathy for a country that was seen a scorrupt, perceived as in league with militant Islam and violent, in contrast with the giving after the Tsunami. Admittedly that was before the economic crash, but westerners have holidayed in Thailand and Sri Lanka and have empathy with the people if not with their governments. There appears to be little empathy with the people of Pakistan, yet there is a large Pakistani constituency in this country that equally receives little empathy. Media stories over the last two years repeatedly carry stories of ‘honour killings’ and forced marriages of young girls to older men in Pakistan.
This week alone the UK based parents of a young woman were gunned down in Pakistan after she had refused to marry, and the financial compensation was not deemed adequate to satisfy the sense of slighted ‘honour’. This was against the background of the flooding.
Three years ago, I went to a meeting in London to discuss a housing project in the earthquake zone of Pakistani administered Kashmir. That was two years after the 2005 quake. The victims were still living in tents.
The whole meeting was taken up with the ‘representatives’ wanting to ‘negotiate’ their ‘commission’ and with them saying that the local Generals would need at least 20% of the value of the project. It was an eye opener at the brass neck and corruption of these people and their insistence that this was being funded by the UN. I still have the notes where I calculated only 26% of the project funds would actually result in any houses being built.
Needless to say we did not get involved.
Here is an extract from the wiki entry for the Kashmir Earthquake
The rest of the money pledged, which was given to the Government of Pakistan for reconstruction and development, was used by a reconstruction authority called ERRA which was made by then military regime to accommodate the retired high military official and while keeping the command of the reconstruction and rehabilitation authority directly under the military.
This authority has highly been criticized for luxurious non-developmental spending and its false statistics. Only practical reconstructions and rehabilitations were done by the foreign governments including Turkey, Japan and Saudi Arabia and UAE. UN, US and UK organizations came under criticism for not doing or taking practical rather focusing on training and seminars costing millions and high salaries.
The basic infrastructure—including tertiary care, health, education, road networks, water supply, waste management and other basic needs—is still underdeveloped and has not reached pre-earthquake status in the region.
The Pakistani Military and its Intelligence service are running the country, as they have done so largely since partition.
The Western public are not stupid, once bitten twice shy, and despite the blandishments of Gordon Brown and the ‘third sector’, they are not going to finance this one, no matter how many times the BBC run this as their lead story.
It is a sad fact that any money that is raised is largely going to be purloined along the way from collecting tin in your High Street to Flood victim.
Since starting this post, I have listened to an interview on Radio Four about the BP Fishermen compensation scheme in Louisiana. Compensation is contingent on the production of a commercial fishing licence. Guess what? Applications for the sale of commercial fishing licences have increased by 2.200 despite the fishing grounds being closed. The first arrests for fraud have been made.
Andrew P Withers.