Feature

Only America is helping Pakistan

In the two weeks since monsoon floods submerged 20 percent of the country, some $100 million has been pledged in aid—more than half of it from the U.S.

As Pakistan faces an unprecedented crisis, only one nation is standing by us: the United States, said Khalid Iqbal in the Islamabad Nation. In the two weeks since monsoon floods submerged 20 percent of the country, disrupting life for 14 million people, some $100 million has been pledged in aid—more than half of it from the U.S. In fact, the United States has been by far the largest donor, both in cash and, crucially, equipment. With roads washed out across entire provinces, millions of stranded families had to be supplied by air. The Americans’ “prompt provision of a large fleet of helicopters” saved lives. Their generous aid “is earning a much desired and long-awaited public goodwill toward America.”

There’s one other country making a big show of offering aid—but for self-serving reasons, said the Islamabad Nation in an editorial. Our archenemy, India, has smugly extended the “paltry sum” of $5 million in an attempt to play Asia’s savior on the cheap. Given that Pakistan is still embroiled in a sovereignty dispute with India over the province of Kashmir, our government ought to reject the money “out of hand,” but instead it is waffling. Islamabad knows that the U.S. sees India “as regional policeman and America’s bulwark against China.” To win favor with the U.S., the Pakistani government feels it must accommodate India. But it’s not worth it. We need to show the U.S. and India “that Pakistan will not abandon Kashmir for money.”

While the U.S. government has been generous, the American people have been pinching pennies, said the Karachi Dawn. International aid organizations have received a mere fraction of the donations from private citizens that they received after past disasters, including the January earthquake in Haiti. Apathy is even worse in Britain, home to many Pakistanis. Must we appeal to Westerners’ own self-interest? We could point out that every penny that Pakistan spends on flood relief is a penny unavailable for combating Islamic extremism, which threatens the West. Indeed, while Western democrats sit on their hands, Islamic militant groups are mobilizing across Pakistan, distributing aid. The parts of the country hardest hit by floods are, coincidentally, poor regions that are known “for supplying fresh blood” to extremist groups. “Thus, if it is not moved by a pure humanitarian urge, the outside world has a selfish reason to step forward quickly to help Islamabad undertake rebuilding in these areas.”

Appealing to fear, though, could easily backfire, said Samira Shackle in Britain’s New Statesman. Many Westerners—particularly Americans and Britons—already associate Pakistan with extremism. “The thought that these people are just waiting for the chance to strap themselves with explosives and declare war on the West is hardly going to inspire people to dig deep and give generously.”

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