Kashmir Victims: 80,000 May Die;
3 Million Homeless
Disasters in South Asia are Himalayan compared to our own. Three million persons have been made homeless in Pakistan. Oxfam and other aid agencies are increasingly afraid that tens of thousands of survivors of the Kashmir earthquake are in danger of perishing, as winter comes. As many could die of want and exposure as perished in the earthquake itself.
Please consider donating something to prevent this looming tragedy at Oxfam or the charity of your choice.
A hill staffer writes:
So far, the US has only given $50 million and pledged another $150 million. USAID has only $10 million left in their budget, after that US assistance will run out of funding. Today, the President instructed five Fortune 500 CEOs to travel to Pakistan. They will be doing fact finding and help with private donations. Unfortunately, with all the hurricanes (Katrina, Rita, Wilma, etc) there is “disaster fatigue” in the US Congress.
The Members of Congress are hesitant to act because they believe their constituents need help at home. Moreover, the Pakistani-American community has been unable to organize any national campaign to lobby Congress (which is btw the world’s biggest piggy bank). There is no emergency appropriations bill, just a resolution asking for funding. Next week, on November 17th, there will be “A day on the hill” where Pakistani-Americans will meet their Member and ask them for more funding. After Thanksgiving eleven Members of Congress will be traveling to India and Pakistan on a Congressional Delegation. These activities should help.
There are rumors that in the next Iraq supplemental bill they may add (in committee) relief funding for Kashmir. The problem is that it will happen sometime after Thanksgiving and winter will arrive any day now. There are reports that 80K have died and maybe another 80k will die in the next few weeks.
The mainstream media really isn’t covering this (maybe b/c its hard to report in the Mountains and maybe b/c Westerner’s were not affected). It would be great for the internet community to take this up. ”
The Bush administration is threatening to dump the entire thing on the private sector, by setting up some sort of philanthropic fund. The scale of the disaster makes necessary that government funds be added to those of individuals, however, if a dent is to be made.
I know that many of my readers must have disaster fatigue, what with tsunamis, hurricanes, an entire American city making like Atlantis, and now this enormous earthquake.
But Kashmir is a world flashpoint. Conflict over it was involved in the Pakistani military’s support for the Taliban in Afghanistan (they called it “strategic depth.”) Conflict over it has given the world 3 wars, and almost produced a nuclear war in 2002. For the implications of the issue for al-Qaeda and the war on terror, see this posting.
The horrific earthquake has nevertheless created an opening for progress on this longstanding conflict. Pakistan and India are cooperating, and on Wednesday they even opened a checkpoint at the Line of Control.
The Bush administration wanted to respond by sending in military helicopters. Some have been allowed to operate. But everyone knows that they will be gathering intelligence on the side. Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf rejected an Indian offer of military helicopters for this reason.
If the United States is in any way serious about the need for engagement with the Muslim world, it needs to respond to this disaster with civilian aid and in the most visible way possible. Please pass this appeal on to others, and let’s blog the hell out of it, and consider writing your congressional representative.