The Pakistani floods, which have reached Sindh, have inundated vast areas and caused considerable devastation. But is the devastation really as bad as Pakistan claims it is?
Originally, the Government of Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani had claimed that about 20 million people were affected by the floods. But here are the figures posted by the Federal Flood Commission on August 23, 2010.
The number of people has come down to 7.7 million, just over a third of the initial estimate.
The international aid pledges made so far are based on the initial figure quoted by the Pakistani government, which now turns out to have been a highly exaggerated one.
The UN had estimated the immediate aid requirements of Pakistan for relief purposes as US $ 460 million.
The dramatic projection of the damages suffered in Pakistan by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the US authorities and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, made at the special session of the UN General Assembly on August 19, resulted in pledges worth nearly US $ 800 million. The major contributions came from the US ($ 150 million), the UK and Saudi Arabia (the latter two promising $100 million each.)
Only China, which apparently suspected that the Pakistani authorities were inflating the estimate of damages suffered, refrained from increasing its pledge beyond the initial amount of $ 10 million.
While many Governments and the UN Secretary-General were taken in, Non-Governmental Organisations and individual donors were wary of amplified figures, and this was one of the factors responsible for their poor contributions.
The Karachi-based The Dawn newspaper wrote on August 22:
A mix of reasons were being given for the world’s sluggish response to the calamity. These ranged from a corrupt image of the government to being a supporter of Taliban. British Prime Minister Cameron’s terror export remarks reinforced this perception and made donation collection more difficult […] Going through the hostile remarks posted on various websites seeking comments on assisting Pakistan floods reveals that there is hardly any friend of Pakistan in the outside world.
“Governments are giving donations because of the geopolitical considerations, some multinationals are also donating after being encouraged by different capitals, but Pakistan clearly lacks public sympathy, which is crucial for generating funds,” a Western diplomat commented.
The Government of India has done well to make a contribution of $ 5 million as a mark of solidarity with the victims of the floods, which the Pakistani authorities have accepted after some delay.
Salman Haider, former Foreign Secretary, has circulated an appeal on behalf of the so-called Balusa group with which the ill-tempered and ill-behaved Pakistani Foreign Minister used to be associated, asking the Indian public to donate generously for the flood relief in Pakistan.
Instead, well-wishers of the Pashtuns, Sindhis, Balochs and the Kashmiris of Gilgit Baltistan should appeal to the people to donate instead to India-friendly organizations in those areas for use in flood relief.
B Raman is an expert on security and anti-terrorism operations. He headed the Counter-Terrorism Division of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) for six years. He has been a member of various special task forces related to security and intelligence issues. An internationally acclaimed writer and lecturer, he regularly contributes articles to various national and international publications on security-related topics. He is also the Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and an Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. He can be reached at email@example.com
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