By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS
New York City–Ashland, OR– August 19th–I am sticking with the Pakistani flood narrative because of its importance to all from Pakistan and all Muslims during this the Holy Season of abstinence, Ramadan. This is not easy writing, but I am offering it as a service to Ramadan Mubarak!
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qurershi of Pakistan; (US) Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Americaâ€™s envoy to the Af-Pak zone; the (American) billionaire financier, George Soros; Rajiv Shah, an administrator at USAID (which organization encouraged me to contact the Pakistani-American demographic which I attempted to do the only way I could â€“ with my writing;) and. further, Christopher MacCormac of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) et al. put out an urgent call for aid to Pakistan in the wake of the devastating floods there.
Among all the participants were representatives from the (the U.S.A. and Pakistani government, private sector, and international humanitarian organizations joining in the discussion. Among the representatives of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) were George Rupp, the International Rescue Committeeâ€™s President, Raymond Offenheiser, the same for Oxfam of America and Save the Childrenâ€™s Gorel Bogarde.
Bogarde said she is most concerned about the outbreak of water-borne diseases, such as cholera, and emphasized what children most need is food, clean drinking water, and shelterâ€
â€œWe need everyone to step up to the plate!â€
(The following article is based on reportage by a Jennifer Matson plus your writer — here on the Pacific Coastâ€™s — research and knowledge of the countryâ€™s situation. The meeting was called by the Asia Society in New York City on the day above. Your author was invited through the computer [admittedly groggy-eyed]) at 5 A.M. Pacific Daylight Savings Time (PDT) around the middle of last month (2010) while he was away from his home base in California.)
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, stated that the floods devastating Pakistan are â€œthe most extraordinary crisis imaginable.â€ Therefore, Islamabad has appealed ardently to international society for aid — with alacrity – for the swamped hinterlands, cities, towns and villages. At least one-fifth of the country is now inundated with water, and has taken the lives of an estimated 1,600 people and affecting over 20 more million people in seventy-four districts as of the middle August, and these figures are extraordinarily expanding since last month with the swelling monsoons. Bizarrely, hard hit has been strategic rebel and terrorist strongholds in the North as well as in the southern Punjab.
â€œPakistan needs your immediate assistance,â€ Foreign Minister Quershi informed those gathered at 8 A.M,. New York (Eastern Daylight Saving [EDTâ€™s), time at the Asia Societyâ€™s Atlantic Coast headquarters. He emphasized that the current level of contributions is short of what is required. This could be that nationâ€™s worst natural disaster.
Qureshi and Holbrooke acknowledged that both Pakistanâ€™s and the international publicâ€™s responses had at first been sluggish. â€œIt started slowly in terms of international perceptions because a flood isnâ€™t like an earthquake or [a] tsunami, which hits immediately then ends,â€ Holbrooke asserted.
Financier George Soros, whose Open Society Institute and Soros Foundation, operate on the ground in Pakistan said â€œthere is a certain amount of fatigue in responding to these disasters…[but] we have to come to terms with the fact that they are in fact connected, that there is climate changeâ€ behind many of them.
When asked if there was a connection between the floods and climate change, USAIDâ€™s Shah said â€œwhile itâ€™s very hard to attribute any single event to what weâ€™re doing to our global environment it is very clear that that trend is leading to a greater number of large hurricanes, a greater number of floods, hotter and dryer conditions in places that are dependent on weather and rainfall for agriculture, and itâ€™s making it very difficult for the least resilient, the most lower income communities of the world to survive.â€
Christopher MacCormac of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is conducting the endeavor to assess the flood damage, alleged the economic infrastructure of the area has been destroyed. Major crops and livestock have been ravaged which has seized an enormous toll on Pakistanâ€™s farmers. ADB has said it would loan that ravaged terrain two billion dollars to rebuild. The money will be greatly appreciated in Islamabad, but such a loan will only put more pressure on the beleaguered indebtedness of the Pakistani economy.
A new informational URL to retrieve information, and/or to locate relatives is www.state.gov/ pakistanflooding. If the result of this article encourages any of my readers to contribute to the relief of Pakistan, you can send a text with the word â€œSWATâ€ to 50555 to contribute $10 to UNHCR (United Nationsâ€ High Commission for Refugees). Your author deems Washingtonâ€™s government has been quite generous and supportive to their ally in this time of their trial.
Hillary Clinton had just announced then at the time of the conference sixty billion more dollars of relief resources had been committed from the District of Columbia, and more has been forthcoming since.
I will keep up with this story for as long as the Pakistani- and Islamic-community in the US and elsewhere require updates and analysis on this 98% Muslim land in its deadly current crisis.