Wednesday, 11 August 2010

India Must Not Withhold Flood Help To Pakistan

It would be very sad if politics came in the way of humanitarian feeling. The floods in Pakistan have not only taken a toll of lives and displaced millions of people, but have also wiped out agricultural crops, threatening the country with a massive food shortage.

Boston.com has some stunning pictures that capture some of the enormity of the damage. BBC has reported on it as well, and this map is from there:


In some ways, this is a golden opportunity for India and Pakistan to mend fences. The cycle of mutual suspicion and hate needs to be decisively broken, and a massive Indian aid effort in the current crisis could go a long way.

It shouldn't be purely government-to-government aid. The Indian government should mobilise contributions from the public and NGOs, so that ordinary people on the Indian side can be seen to be helping their counterparts across the border. That is the only thing that can change mindsets.

India's protestations that it has no evil designs on Pakistan continue to be ignored by Pakistani policymakers in the military, because (rightly from their point of view), they focus on capability rather than intent. A massive popular groundswell of aid may help them see that India has both the capability and the intent to do enormous good.

It's time to set petty quarrels aside and do the statesmanlike thing. Future generations will thank us.

Update 14/08/2010:

India finally broke its silence and offered $5 million in aid to Pakistan. The report comes from a Pakistani news site. The most heartening aspect is the positive response from Pakistani readers (at least the first 7 that have appeared so far).

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