A week or so ago I was wondering to myself why the Pakistani floods where not having the sort of attention and international response as the earthquake in Haiti. It was more of a rhetorical question in reality. I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out that the lack of response has a lot to do with politics and religion. I did a quick google search to see if I could find any articles on this exact topic, and came across an article entitled “Why are we less generous towards Pakistan than we were towards Haiti?” I really had high hopes that the article would touch on the root causes of the differences in response, but the only truly relative point was: “But I suspect it runs deeper than Zardari’s spectacular stupidity. The image of Pakistan in this country has never been lower. The 7/7 bomb attacks of 2005 and the foiling of numerous subsequent plots has inextricably linked Pakistan with terrrorism. Could this have led people to turn a deaf ear to appeals for help?” And that’s where the analysis ended. The author never touched on religion, politics, or anything else really.

Then I read the comments. HOLY HECK! I truly don’t understand how there are human beings who write shit like this:

  • “To hear we (UK) have donated only 5 million pounds is a disgrace. Indeed it is, no one asked me if my hard earnt taxes should be squandered in this fashion. Truly appalling!”
  • “Why are we less generous towards Pakistan than we were to Haiti? Because Haitian people have not organized themselves to try and kills us, that’s why. Because Haitian people do not put their women in bin liners, that’s why. Whatever may be the problems that Haitian people have inflicted upon themselves over the last two centuries, they have kept themselves to themselves and not tried to export them. That’s why.”
  • “It’s madness to expect infidels, us Brits, to give money to a country with a nuclear programme that’s headed up by a corrupt president.?
  • “Because since 1947 their medieval male dominated culture has irresponsibly increased the population from 31 million to an unsustainable 117 million ensuring continued poverty. It’s because normal Pakistanis refuse to join the 21st century, preferring to give their corrupt dynastic leaders a free ride on a flying carpet of corruption, intolerance and ignorance rather than the boot. I could go on, but that would be ungracious.”
  • “Pakistan is much richer than Haiti and has the resources.”
  • “Seriously, if you are able to make a nuclear bomb, you should be able to help your people in a time of a natural disaster.”
I agree that providing financial support in Pakistan provides more challenges than other countries such as Haiti, but I don’t think it qualifies as turning a blind eye to the millions of people who will be suffering the consequences of these floods for years and possibly decades.

As to Pakistan being a richer country than Haiti–what matters is whether it is helping their people or not, regardless of what resources they have available. Ideally, yes, every country that has the resources to take care of themselves should, but if they chose not to, are other countries relieved from their moral responsibility to help? I’m sure you can argue both ways, but I think it’s no excuse. I’m sure people hate 70-90% of what their taxes are spent on. I would be stoked if my taxes were going to save lives rather than to pay for half the things it actually goes to.

As for religion, terrorism, and politics, I don’t think this is the time to use politics and religion as an argument. People are people, regardless of their faiths. And how can you tell who is a terrorist and who isn’t? Are you going to let all people die from starvation because you think some of them may be terrorists? Humanity at its best.

And as far as making sure contributions go to aiding victims and not militants, it’s the challenge of every disaster stricken country: corruption. Haiti has been dealing with corruption way before the earthquake, but it didn’t keep people from contributing. Maybe it’s because Christian missionaries have been in Haiti for decades, whereas Christian missionaries might not have a place in Pakistan, who knows. Again, not an excuse: find a solution, create a way to track donations, a way to ensure that donations reach those in need. Easier said than done, I know, but I don’t understand why it’s impossible.

As for the magnitude of the event, there may not be as many dead as other disasters, but I think it’s actually worse that there are so many more people who are or will be affected in the long run by these floods. Fields have been lost, not to mention cattle. People in Haiti were already reliant on food aid, people in Pakistan have lost their source of livelihood and will likely be affected for years to come.

Another ridiculous argument against providing aid to Pakistan is that it’s their own fault for being over populated because of their birth rates. Umm…really?! So yeah, maybe they should keep the household numbers down, but again, you’re going to let millions suffer because what? they brought it upon themselves by having too many babies?

Ugh I dunno, this entry isn’t nearly as organized or as well thought out as I wanted, so I’m sure my “arguments” have plenty of holes, but I wanted to at least put something out there for thought.