Pakistan's Floods: A Crisis of Empathy

Pakistani flood survivors gather at a makeshift tent camp in Sultan Kot on August 16, 2010.

It is being described by the United Nations as the worst catastrophe in its history, with nearly fourteen million people affected and a third of Pakistan’s territory under water.   Nearly 1600 people died in the immediate aftermath of the floods but hundreds and possibly even thousands more are expected to perish as deadly diseases begin to spread through the displaced populations spread through the affected populations.  According to U.N estimates nearly 3.5 million children are at risk of water borne diseases and thousands of cholera cases are expected in the next few days.  The weather forecast continues to be unrelenting with further flooding expected as rains continue through the week.

Catastrophe of this magnitude visited upon a country already flailing under the weight of terrorist attacks and poor governance is an indescribable tragedy.  But the dimensions of Pakistan’s calamity have been exacerbated not simply by the vagaries of nature but by the inability of the world to join the effort to save Pakistan’s submerged millions.

After a tour of the affected areas U.N Secretary General Ban ki Moon once again urged the international community to come to Pakistan’s aid pointing out that only a quarter of the 459 million dollars in aid have actually arrived.  In the meantime, six million people are still living under the open sky without potable water or any food supply often scrambling under any available shelter and scrounging for food.   With the Pakistani Government mired in its own ineptitude and problems of logistics and corruption Pakistani NGOs and other citizens are essentially coordinating the flood relief effort on their own using virtual mapping to allow anyone who is helping to report incidents to see where help is needed.

Shockingly the cavalcade of bereft images, emaciated men clutching driftwood, women grasping half naked babies and villages and towns inundated in the ubiquitous murky brown have all failed to arouse the world’s sympathy.  While millions around the globe opened their coffers for the victims of the Asian Tsunami and the Haitian earthquake, few have done so for Pakistan.  Hollywood stars, usually quick to rally around victims of humanitarian catastrophe have been eerily silent in coming to the aid of millions of Pakistan’s hapless flood victims.

The U.S response, while widely publicized, has also been paltry relative to the magnitude of the catastrophe with only a few hundred million pledged; a far cry from the over one billion the United States spends on fighting the war on terror in Pakistan.  To date, only nineteen helicopters and two C-130s of the many hundreds stationed mere miles away from affected areas were actually being utilized for humanitarian efforts in Pakistan.  While news agencies decried how the floods may provide opportunities for militants to regroup these fears have not led to any decisions that would divert significant military assets to humanitarian use in the region.

As Amnesty International pointed out in its recent report on Pakistan, many in the flood affected areas were already undergoing persecution at the hands of the Taliban, Pakistani security forces and U.S drone attacks.  The arrival of a natural disaster that is unprecedented in the country’s history has left millions vulnerable to both disease and even more exploitation by these forces.  Unless ordinary people around the world donate to come to the aid of the millions waiting for help, Pakistanis will bear the burden of believing that in their gravest hour of need they have been forgotten and ignored.

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36 thoughts on “Pakistan's Floods: A Crisis of Empathy

  1. These people have suffered more than enough already. Even if governments haven't the humanity to do what needs to be done for reasons of compassion, can't they at least see they'll win a lot more friends in Pakistan by helping those caught up in this disaster than they ever will with bombs and bullets?

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  3. These people have suffered more than enough already. Even if governments haven’t the humanity to do what needs to be done for reasons of compassion, can’t they at least see they’ll win a lot more friends in Pakistan by helping those caught up in this disaster than they ever will with bombs and bullets?

  4. Pakistan and Pakies are in negative zone, and it is quite understandable that why help is not coming to Pakistan, critics say the reason is corruption but that's not true, corruption is everywhere Pakistan is not the only case even in US there is so much corruption, then why only Pakistan? Allah has taught us Pakies a lesson to revert back to Him and Muhammad(peace be upon him), clamaties one after another, after 9/11 the march of the Dajjali forces on Pakistan and subsequent diversion of these forces to Afghanistan, then terrorists invasion to Pakistan, drone attacked, mud slinging on Pakistan for supporting those terrorists, and now this unprecedented flood is a wake up call for Pakies, Allah has taught us to see we are all alone in this arena, only hope and shelter is Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) rulling elite and the world is not with us, then why we are calling the world for help. Let's revert back to Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) and trust at our own. Inshallah Pakistan will revert back to its own very soon, depite intrigues.

  5. Pakistan and Pakies are in negative zone, and it is quite understandable that why help is not coming to Pakistan, critics say the reason is corruption but that’s not true, corruption is everywhere Pakistan is not the only case even in US there is so much corruption, then why only Pakistan? Allah has taught us Pakies a lesson to revert back to Him and Muhammad(peace be upon him), clamaties one after another, after 9/11 the march of the Dajjali forces on Pakistan and subsequent diversion of these forces to Afghanistan, then terrorists invasion to Pakistan, drone attacked, mud slinging on Pakistan for supporting those terrorists, and now this unprecedented flood is a wake up call for Pakies, Allah has taught us to see we are all alone in this arena, only hope and shelter is Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) rulling elite and the world is not with us, then why we are calling the world for help. Let’s revert back to Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) and trust at our own. Inshallah Pakistan will revert back to its own very soon, depite intrigues.

  6. Pakistan is once again in a state of turmoil, we are facing a great challenge of history. We have millions of homeless people, facing shortage of food, water and other food commodities. Flood has destroyed infrastructure and unearthed several villages. This time calls for national unity, mere putting entire responsibility on government is not fair, government alone can not tackle this great disaster. The floods have affected one-third of the country and it is the responsibility of the media, citizens, and state institutions to back government in carrying out relief operation. It is equal responsibility of every one to take part in relief activities. For the time being we must put a side our differences, campaigns against government, we must forget our differences, we must forget political point scoring. Masses must also negate terrorist organizations also that are trying to win sympathies in the name of relief efforts. It is also necessary to not let the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) exploit the flood-affected people, because there is a probability that they might use relief for building an anti-government sentiment among the flood affected people.

  7. Pakistan is once again in a state of turmoil, we are facing a great challenge of history. We have millions of homeless people, facing shortage of food, water and other food commodities. Flood has destroyed infrastructure and unearthed several villages. This time calls for national unity, mere putting entire responsibility on government is not fair, government alone can not tackle this great disaster. The floods have affected one-third of the country and it is the responsibility of the media, citizens, and state institutions to back government in carrying out relief operation. It is equal responsibility of every one to take part in relief activities. For the time being we must put a side our differences, campaigns against government, we must forget our differences, we must forget political point scoring. Masses must also negate terrorist organizations also that are trying to win sympathies in the name of relief efforts. It is also necessary to not let the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) exploit the flood-affected people, because there is a probability that they might use relief for building an anti-government sentiment among the flood affected people.

  8. I hope people in the US are paying attention to this. Some are saying this disaster is a result of climate change. If so, prepare for more of this. I would not discourage anyone from turning to Allah but this disaster is not something Pakistanis will be able to cope with alone. The second wave of the disaster is beginning with waterborne illnesses like cholera. Pakistanis need your help. Give whatever you can to reputable organizations such as OXFAM or UNICEF.

  9. I hope people in the US are paying attention to this. Some are saying this disaster is a result of climate change. If so, prepare for more of this. I would not discourage anyone from turning to Allah but this disaster is not something Pakistanis will be able to cope with alone. The second wave of the disaster is beginning with waterborne illnesses like cholera. Pakistanis need your help. Give whatever you can to reputable organizations such as OXFAM or UNICEF.

  10. Mr. Shahbaz, I am not going to degrade what you have said, but fyi Pakistan in turmoil since birth turmoil and hardships are not a novel thing for Pakistan and Pakies, but present turmoil has helped us a lot to identify who're friends of ours, current event has explicitly outlined it. Two govts one is US and 2nd is our own govt currently in power has brought all of us at a stage where we are today, wht you think the current governors are laymen, both the governors and the opposition has a vast experience how to run the show, currently they are in power but the question is, where are they? They are missing fm the tragedy scenes like a missing baby, they all are with an agenda to bring Pakistan in a state of anarchy. You said that affecties should not accept relief fm militants this is strange advice of yours, govt has created a vacuum, so they are filling it up, as for unity, yes we are united and will always be united, (I am not talking abt the politicians) so much efforts have been made in the recent past, PPP, NAWAZ LEAGUE, ANP, MQM and so many other satans have been inducted into our society and politics to divide us, and they have been unsuccessful until now, and they always be unsuccessful, trust me. We the people are not against the govt, govt is against the people.

    Mr. Denning you must have said that Pakistan can not cope with this current turmoil ……we can provided that US govt. back off fm Pakistan.

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  12. Mr. Shahbaz, I am not going to degrade what you have said, but fyi Pakistan in turmoil since birth turmoil and hardships are not a novel thing for Pakistan and Pakies, but present turmoil has helped us a lot to identify who’re friends of ours, current event has explicitly outlined it. Two govts one is US and 2nd is our own govt currently in power has brought all of us at a stage where we are today, wht you think the current governors are laymen, both the governors and the opposition has a vast experience how to run the show, currently they are in power but the question is, where are they? They are missing fm the tragedy scenes like a missing baby, they all are with an agenda to bring Pakistan in a state of anarchy. You said that affecties should not accept relief fm militants this is strange advice of yours, govt has created a vacuum, so they are filling it up, as for unity, yes we are united and will always be united, (I am not talking abt the politicians) so much efforts have been made in the recent past, PPP, NAWAZ LEAGUE, ANP, MQM and so many other satans have been inducted into our society and politics to divide us, and they have been unsuccessful until now, and they always be unsuccessful, trust me. We the people are not against the govt, govt is against the people.

    Mr. Denning you must have said that Pakistan can not cope with this current turmoil ……we can provided that US govt. back off fm Pakistan.

  13. I think fundamentalists of all religions, with their tendencies to punitive law and morality, and xenophobia, ought to have a country of their own where they can learn to deal with others and leave the rest alone. Otherwise, yes, support the Pakistani people in this time of crisis.

  14. I think fundamentalists of all religions, with their tendencies to punitive law and morality, and xenophobia, ought to have a country of their own where they can learn to deal with others and leave the rest alone. Otherwise, yes, support the Pakistani people in this time of crisis.

  15. @Julia Murray

    I really wish that most of the people in the western world start thinking like you… Many just blindly follow whatever is there in the media and thinks everyone in Pakistan is either a terrorist or supports terrorism…

  16. @Julia Murray

    I really wish that most of the people in the western world start thinking like you… Many just blindly follow whatever is there in the media and thinks everyone in Pakistan is either a terrorist or supports terrorism…

  17. Yes the fundos whether they are fm christianity, Islam or Jews they are not actually fundos they are hell creatures, newcons, zionists or so called Islamic Jihadies they have broght the world peace in danger and have brought the world at the brink of third world war, they are the birds of the same feather, Pakistan is not producing militants they are the by-product of fundo CIA (William Casey and Rober Gates) excepting the Khurasani i.e. Afghan Talibans with black turbans they're freedom fighters they're not fundos ,I can't oppose 'em among 'em are the children of Muhammad PBUH, and he had admonish the world 1400 yrs ago when you find 'em ppl with black turban fm Khurasan (Afghanistan) never oppose them or you would be no more, Americans must quit the regiion atonce and Indians should return to their own dwellings any adventure fm Americans or Indians in the region or agst Pakistan could cause world's devastation as Pakistan is the focal point of this planet, Pakistan is not just a country

  18. Yes the fundos whether they are fm christianity, Islam or Jews they are not actually fundos they are hell creatures, newcons, zionists or so called Islamic Jihadies they have broght the world peace in danger and have brought the world at the brink of third world war, they are the birds of the same feather, Pakistan is not producing militants they are the by-product of fundo CIA (William Casey and Rober Gates) excepting the Khurasani i.e. Afghan Talibans with black turbans they’re freedom fighters they’re not fundos ,I can’t oppose ‘em among ‘em are the children of Muhammad PBUH, and he had admonish the world 1400 yrs ago when you find ‘em ppl with black turban fm Khurasan (Afghanistan) never oppose them or you would be no more, Americans must quit the regiion atonce and Indians should return to their own dwellings any adventure fm Americans or Indians in the region or agst Pakistan could cause world’s devastation as Pakistan is the focal point of this planet, Pakistan is not just a country

  19. Compassion is confounded with confusion. I've read in reputable sources of two problems with donations in this case. A Taliban group has threatened both international aid workers and those who receive their aid. If the threat were only to the workers, well, I could fund that because they know and accept the dangers (and I believe that God has a special place for those who die showing compassion), but if my "help" endangers those I intended to aid, that's another matter.

    Some Pakistanis who live abroad are unwilling to send money. They–who know more about the situation than I–are convinced that the corruption is so great any monies will only strengthen the oppressors.

  20. I am sure the question is not whether the money goes to oppresors or militants the question is that who backed and planted those oppresors in Pakistan and who funded and created those militants, Pakistan's misfortune is that Pakistan is facing human misery and world is doing politics. International power brokers knew that who these oppresors are they were not so naive yet they backed them. Present misery will come to an end soon, it is not forever and we ll be back soon. Pakistan will remain thankful to those who have been helping us out in good faith.

  21. Compassion is confounded with confusion. I’ve read in reputable sources of two problems with donations in this case. A Taliban group has threatened both international aid workers and those who receive their aid. If the threat were only to the workers, well, I could fund that because they know and accept the dangers (and I believe that God has a special place for those who die showing compassion), but if my “help” endangers those I intended to aid, that’s another matter.

    Some Pakistanis who live abroad are unwilling to send money. They–who know more about the situation than I–are convinced that the corruption is so great any monies will only strengthen the oppressors.

  22. I am sure the question is not whether the money goes to oppresors or militants the question is that who backed and planted those oppresors in Pakistan and who funded and created those militants, Pakistan’s misfortune is that Pakistan is facing human misery and world is doing politics. International power brokers knew that who these oppresors are they were not so naive yet they backed them. Present misery will come to an end soon, it is not forever and we ll be back soon. Pakistan will remain thankful to those who have been helping us out in good faith.

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  25. I am an American and lived and worked, teaching school, in Pakistan for 7 years. The people of Pakistan are the warmest, kindest people I have come to know, and I have spent over 20 years living overseas. Their government is corrupt, there are fundamentalists, but most are poor, kind and humble people who would do anything for you if you were there. . .they deserve your help. . . .they are NOT the Pakistani government. Please help in any way that you can. One day go. . .and you will see for yourself. Has anyone read Three Cups of Tea?

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  33. I am an American and lived and worked, teaching school, in Pakistan for 7 years. The people of Pakistan are the warmest, kindest people I have come to know, and I have spent over 20 years living overseas. Their government is corrupt, there are fundamentalists, but most are poor, kind and humble people who would do anything for you if you were there. . .they deserve your help. . . .they are NOT the Pakistani government. Please help in any way that you can. One day go. . .and you will see for yourself. Has anyone read Three Cups of Tea?

  34. @Delena thank you for having justified and fair comments abt Pakistan, Pakistani ruling elite is corrupt and puppets. There is an issue with govt formation US admin and Cia back these rulers, see the recent example current corrupt govt came to power by US admin and Cia why they backed those corrupt ppl why US admin and cia never let us do thing in our own way and at our own will why they interfere into our state system and implant those rulers and then blame they are corrupt

  35. @Delena thank you for having justified and fair comments abt Pakistan, Pakistani ruling elite is corrupt and puppets. There is an issue with govt formation US admin and Cia back these rulers, see the recent example current corrupt govt came to power by US admin and Cia why they backed those corrupt ppl why US admin and cia never let us do thing in our own way and at our own will why they interfere into our state system and implant those rulers and then blame they are corrupt

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