PAKISTAN FLOODS: DON’T LOOK AWAY



Last night I listened to an OXFAM director saying the call to aid Pakistan flood victims has not received a good response, something I find hard to accept, even given the multiple world emergencies of recent times.

I have travelled the length and breadth of Pakistan, a rugged, vibrant country with spectacular scenery and some of the oldest sites in the civilised world and wherever I went – from Karachi to the Khyber Pass and the mountainous Northern Areas, I was well received although it is also true to say – not without a degree of curiosity!

I found the average person friendly, courteous and kind, especially the poor rural villagers of Sindh the southern province, my favourite part of Pakistan, currently facing inundation by the swollen Indus river.

 Hospitality was a second nature, even if it was a family’s last drop of lassi. And well I recall an occasion when my suitcase wouldn’t close at Karachi Airport and an observant porter whipped out the rope supporting his trousers and strapped it around the lid.

Sindhis number the Indo-Aryan tribal peoples known as Jats and the Mohanas of the preceding blog, to the urban elite in Karachi, but your typical Sindhi is a hard-working peasant, usually mortgaged to a wealthy landowner, living in a mud-house with his animals – chickens and a few water buffalo – all now lost in the floods.

Can anyone watching the desperate images beamed nightly into their living room imagine what it must be like to have nothing? And be denied because you happen to be of Muslim persuasion with an odious government accused of supporting terrorism.

Those among you who have not dug into your pocket may answer somewhere deep, dark and guarded by Cerebrus, the three-headed guardian dog of the entrance to Hell.


An Insight and Guide by Christine Osborne (Longman Group) 1983.

About Travels with My Hat

Australian photojournalist and author. Used London as a base for nearly forty years while freelancing in the Middle East, Arabian peninsular, Africa and South Asia. Have written and illustrated more than a dozen books and travel guides. Operates a well regarded religious images stock photo library: www.worldreligions.co.uk. Live in Leura in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney.
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17 Responses to PAKISTAN FLOODS: DON’T LOOK AWAY

  1. Rosie says:

    Indeed, aid should be based on human need, not religious or political beliefs…

  2. Jules says:

    Last I heard, USA gave $10M. Australia has given $5M. Perhaps as the floods increase, donations may increase. I agree with Rosie's comment. Sad days.

  3. AMA says:

    I too have travelled in Pakistan. altho not to the extent of C.O. I agree totally agree with all her comments regarding the kindness and generosity of even the poorest . Please help.

  4. Thanks for your comment Jules. The figures you quote are donations from national governments and considering the scale of devastation in Pakistan, are hugely disproportionate. Unless drastic measures are taken to help, the country is doomed.

  5. Thank you for dropping in Rosie. Of course this is so, but do you know the UK for example, is about to spend £12 million GBP on security for the four-day visit by that German Pope next month against only £5 GBP in aid to the 15 million people in Pakistan whose lives are wrecked by flood-waters. Would you not agree that something is far wrong here but my blog was directed mainly at private individuals who have not donated anything to aid agencies such as MSF who are working so hard to bring relief.

  6. C .B.O says:

    AMA who is known to me is one of the first persons to donate to every world catastrophe – Burma, Haiti, victims of the tsunami — Pakistan however is in a worse situation than any `Act of God' previously witnessed. The 2010 monsoon floods have not only destroyed homes/huts but they have rendered farmland unproductive likely for the next two years. Millions of peasants will starve unless mega efforts are made by the international community along with individual donations (other than by Pakistani expatriates).

  7. Mimi Forsyth says:

    Indeed, a very great tragedy. This is the time of catastrophes. Pakistan, China, Russia, Gulf of Mexico….Mother Nature is very angry, for all the right reasons.Helicopters for war but not for rescues….how to reconcile that?

  8. Anonymous says:

    In fact the US has been deploying some heli-drops aid in the NWFP and the Pakistan army and navy are flying choppers to flood-stricken areas – see VG pictures on: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/7935043/Pakistan-floods-aerial-pictures-from-army-helicopters-show-the-extent-of-the-flooding.htmlNot enough of course since many areas, such as the Swat Valley, are cut-off with all bridges down.

  9. I have been in Pakistan for the last month and, one with one exception, the only people i have seen organising aid are local organisations. Religious and social welfare groups are collecting money and setting up water and food distribution sites.No-one i know in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa has any faith that the goverment can help.The only story i have seen in the international media about this local help is that one organisation has terrorist links. Nothing about how the people of the country are coming together to try and do something about this. As Christine has said this will devestate the country for years to come. Already the price of beef is at rock bottom as farmers are slaughtering their herds due to lack of fodder. What will happen to them when the time comes to stop food handouts?There is a great need for international aid to stop a famine. I think it will come but i think, sadly, that it will stop at giving enough to get the country back on its feet.

  10. daisy says:

    Considering the cost of the Pope`s visit to this country next month ( millions of pounds )why doesn`t he cancel and send some of the money collected by his flock to the poor desperate souls in Pakistan. almost as outrageous as the visit here of president of Pakistan, leaving his people in one of the most treacherous times ever experienced in the world.

  11. Thank you for this valuable insight from a local perspective. James is a director of: Untamed Borders, a specialist agency operating bespoke tours of Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.www.untamedborders.com

  12. Anonymous says:

    The first of a contingent of 19 American military choppers has been ordered to assist the Pakistani government in relief efforts. The United States has pledged $71 million for relief."After the Kashmir earthquake in 2005, relief workers had access to some resources," said Dr Sheikh of WHO.“Here, everything is gone. Crops, livestock, homes, communities. There is nothing for people to fall back on." Indeed-there will be more deaths from disease and malnutrition than from drowning………

  13. Mimi Forsyth says:

    USA Today newspaper says private donation to relief projects is suffering "donor fatigue" and "especially Pakistan fatigue". Catastrophes anywhere you look. There is also resistance to donating because of the perception that the Pakistani gov't is corrupt and donations will not reach destination. The problems of Pakistan will very soon become world problems, especially with food.

  14. Anonymous says:

    People can donate to private organisations. Don't punish the flood victims for their rotten government.Both Russia, affected by fires, and Pakistan inundated by floods, are major wheat producers as you know. The price of flour is already escalating – okay for westerners who have a huge choice of foods, but many people in countries such as – yes Pakistan – can only afford a roti. Now they won't be able to.

  15. Contact Info:2-B, Parbat Road F-7/3,Islamabad-PAKISTANTelephone: ++92 51 2611092/4Fax: ++92 51 2611090Email: info@oakdf.org.pk*Support can also be provided by donating the following commoditiesPlease make sure items are properly packedClothing: Shalwar Kameez in various sizes for men, women and childrenShoesBeddingTentsJerricans (large plastic cans that hold 20 liters of water or other liquids)Crockery & Cutlery preferably of steelBucketsSoapsTowels10. Rice11. Sugar12. Flour13. Cooking Oil14. Tea, Milk (tetra packs or powder)15. Drinking Water16. Sealed Food Items: Glucose BiscuitsMedicines:Water Purification TabletsVaccinesPain killersCough SyrupGlucoseAntibiotics e.g. tetanus, amoxil, gentamycin.IV cannulas- most common are 18,22,24- Butterfly cannulas: these are for childrenIV Drip setsIV drips: normal saline10. Local anesthetics (injections)11. Cotton bandages12. Crepe Bandages13. Gauze Pads14. Cotton15. Surgical instruments

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