8.27.2010

The importance of aid

Battlegrounds open fast -- and the Pakistan flood is a demonstration that the real battle against terrorism often lies not in combat, but in relief:
Alarm bells went off in Washington Thursday when the Pakistani media reported that USAID chief Rajiv Shah had visited a relief camp run by a group associated with terrorists. But according to the aid agency, that's simply not the case.

...

The incident highlights how the flood disaster has become a competition between Islamic charities and groups and the government of Pakistan, aided by the international community. Although the United States has been the largest international aid donor following the floods, there are few signs that Pakistanis' views of the United States have improved.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have their own "hearts and minds" campaign going, and seek to cement a monopoly:
The United Nations spokesman, Maurizio Giuliano, said that relief workers would continue their efforts and that the group would not be intimidated by “threats of insecurity, let alone rumors of such threats.”

“We are here for the people and will continue to deliver,” Mr. Giuliano said. “Any potential attack against us would be against the people of Pakistan, whom we are here to assist.”

Hard-line groups in Pakistan have tried to assert their influence amid the chaos created by the floods, with the Taliban urging people to reject aid from the United States, and Islamic groups stepping in to provide aid in the breach left by the government’s faltering response.
And the State Department has been calling for donations - remember that your $5 goes a long way.