Pakistani floods and aid?

Suffering its worst flood in 80 years, one-fifth of Pakistan is under water. The numbers of people affected are more than by the Indian tsunami in 2004: about 14 million affected, almost 2 million displaced, and over 1600 dead. (Video 1, Video 2)

The flood has also revealed the crisis in the country’s leadership. For one, the civilian government is weak and its writ doesn’t apply to almost half of the state. The real power lies with the armed forces, notably in foreign policy (especially when it comes to India). And yes, there are large pockets where the only authority is the Taliban.

Almost a failed state (number ten in Foreign Policy ‘Failed State Index 2010‘), the latest calamity will further devastate Pakistan’s economy. This is very disconcerting. Our prayers are with the people who are suffering.


However, the international aid fails to flow. Partly, it is an unease among western donors. The US alone has poured over $10 billion during the last decade, and there is not much to show for it. A lot of the money, given to Pakistan for any reason, finds its way to the Army which builds buildings and purchases weapons for use against its arch-enemy, India. There is no guarantee that the money meant for flood victims will not be similarly misused.

Due to corruption, much of this money goes to enrich individuals, both civilian and military, as well. It appears the donors are wising up to the fact that “Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.” (Douglas Casey, 1992).

Between this donor reluctance and the poor state of governance in Pakistan, it is a real and present danger that the terrorist organizations will leverage this tragedy to recruit and flourish.

All in all, this is a sad situation. Very sad.


UPDATE 1: The UN launched a fresh appeal on 11 August for 459 million

UPDATE 2: India offers $5 million flood aid to Pakistan.

UPDATE 3: Taliban has told flood victims to boycott aid from “foreign infidels”

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