Pakistan: Being Untrustworthy in a Humanitarian Crisis?

Zubair Faisal Abbasi

International development organizations recently conveyed us a message that government in Pakistan is untrustworthy and therefore humanitarian aid in desirable quantity is hard to arrange. Many of us accepted the argument and starting divulging additional reasons on international donors being right in avoiding a direly needed bout of foreign assistance. We should try to be critical about such claims which primarily blame the victim.

Let us say, you call us untrustworthy and therefore you refuse to pour money into our kitty so that we fight against the unprecedented calamity on our own. You call our state institutions untrustworthy slipping into the coffin of a failed state. You call us untrustworthy because we got a ‘bigger cheque’ from the USA and refused the Communists. Had we accepted the smaller cheque and fought the imposed war against you then what we were supposed to be? Traitors? But we accepted the cheque and remained trustworthy till the time cheap gun fodder was needed. The transaction was simple and persuasive. We, the untrustworthy, joined the most ‘truthful’ arrangements like SEATO/CENTO and remained most aligned nation outside the NATO and fought as frontline state – we remained trustworthy. Now once the war-machine appears to be tired, exhausted, and needs oiling then we become untrustworthy, corrupt, and extortionists. In fact, we were trustworthy for the expansion of military-industrial complex and now when we need humanitarian assistance we are untrustworthy.

Our fragile democracy and a civil government is corrupt and badly elected by the illiterate and ignorant voters. However, we should have the courage to call a spade a spade. Let us be very clear that a significant part of foreign aid is a high political and strategic drama played on the world stage. It follows the logic of strategic alignments not poverty or inequality or under-development. Foreign aid in practice is not always a true reflection of global Keynesianism or humanitarian deployment but very meticulously designed matrix to keep strategic alliances.

A simple question: how much foreign aid is given to Palestinians who are suffering from poverty and exclusion and how much is given to the other side of the divide. Let us have a look at the World Development Indicators issued by the World Bank in 2001. It shows that South Asia received US $ 3 per person where around 50% of the world poor live while Europe and Central Asia received US $ 23 per person of foreign assistance. Sub-Saharan Africa got US $ 20 while the Middle East which has more than five times higher income than South Asia received US $ 18 per person. Development literature shows that foreign assistance does not respond to development needs but to arbitrary decisions and strategic alliances. Therefore, we should be very clear about such patterns before naming Pakistanis an untrustworthy nation.

While aid has been political, much of it has actually been used to tease out the desired kind of ‘leadership’ from the less-developed yet strategically placed countries. Let us ask ourselves, what kind of regimes have been supported in Chile, Pakistan, Afghanistan and a host of other countries. It appears that the main idea was to support ‘son-of-a-bitch’ but he should be ‘our son-of-a-bitch’. The ‘trustworthy’ governments were installed which suited the vested interests and such installed regimes could thrive only when they captured state resources and diverted them to be aligned with the war-machine of a particular brand. In fact, we are crafty. We know how to engage and disengage. We know how to save our skin and keep our hands clean. We know how to civilize the world with missionary zeal by keeping people in prisons without a fair trial. Here the reference is not to Gutanamo Bay but to the father of Barak Obama who was kept like this in Kenya by Churchill’s empire. We know the art of blaming the victim. We intervene with financial and military might, we change the whole power structure, get our work done, and leave the corrupt, extortionist, and deceitful governments behind with the people struggling for ‘democracy and justice’. Right? But trust me, I am not untrustworthy, the rest I leave for your imagination.


Filed under disaster

10 responses to “Pakistan: Being Untrustworthy in a Humanitarian Crisis?

  1. kashifiat

    Dr Farrukh Saleem just admitted in Dr Shahid Masood programe that Pak Army , Al Khidmat Foundation & Falah e Insaniat [Jamaat u Dawa] are the most working forces on the ground…

  2. kashifiat

    عرب میڈیکل یونین کے سیکرٹری جنرل ڈاکٹر ابراہیم زعفرانی کی اسلام آباد میں الخدمت فائونڈیشن کے نائب صدر ڈاکٹر حفیظ الرحمن کے ہمراہ پریس کانفرنس۔

    عرب میڈیکل یونین الخدمت فائونڈیشن اور پاکستان اسلامک میڈیکل ایسوسی ایشن کے ساتھ مل کر سیلاب سے متاثرہ علاقوں میں کام کرے گی

  3. kashifiat

    The governments of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran and the welfare bodies of Malaysia, Britain, Egypt and some other countries have extended their cooperation to the Al-Khidmat Foundation for provision of relief to the flood affected people,

  4. shiv

    The author of this article has fallen into the standard cliches that have traditionally come from Pakistan that few people fall for any more. By PTH standards this one gets 1 on 10 from me.

    The second paragraph is a mass of us versus them. In this case the them is obviously the 6 billion non Pakistanis of the world. But who is “us”? The Pakistan army? The feudocracy? Or 170 million Pakistanis who were 140 million a decade ago whose literacy and income figures have not shown the same percentage rise as the population despite Pakistan being trustworthy in accepting and cashing cheques. Or does “us” mean the 40 million Pakistanis under 15 years of age who will have no education or jobs to look forward to and are being whipped up with grievances such as this caterwaul of an article conjures up.

    The argument in the last paragraph is the most pathetic I have heard since yesterday when I read that India caused Pakistan’s floods. To put it kindly the argument is that “You, the west, are bad. So why do you consider us bad? We are so good”. Pardon me sir, but this is called a “torn shirt versus open fly argument. If I point out that you have an open fly, you point out that my shirt is torn. Both facts are correct, but just because my shirt is torn, it does not mean your open fly gets better or less vulgar.

    Just because the West or the rest of the world is bad does not mean that Pakistan is good. Just because Churchill held someone without trial it does not make it fine for Pakistan to do the same thing and claim moral equivalence while begging for aid.

    Just because Pakistan has terrorism on its soil it does not mean that India has to put up with terrorism from Pakistanis.

    Just because Pakistan accepted payments from the west when it was convenient in the past does not mean that the west needs to keep paying up.

    Just because India did not need Pakistani aid during the Bhuj earthquake does not mean that Pakistan needs to act coy about aid from India when the cash strapped hand is being stretched towards every other nation on earth.

    Arguments such as the ones in this article will only get laughed at – I suppose Pakistan would be lucky if this piece of Lahori Logic does not appear anywhere outside of this blog. It is a literary self goal in the guise of a caterwaul.

  5. Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, has concluded that India is no longer the primary threat to the country’s security. Displacing New Delhi for the title are Islamist militias operating in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.

    India First Foundation

  6. Ammar

    I think much of the criticism is uncalled for, when the UN has termed it as a disaster biggest disaster of the century no government will be able to meet the demands at a par excellence level, while we need to ensure that transparency is there at all level mistrusting our government won’t help

  7. Ammar

    Pakistan needs the international assistance to cope up with this challane. Senator Kerry’s visit to Pakistan demonstrates the level of U.S commitment to help Pakistan in this hour of crisis. Apart from 75 million USD for relief the U.S is also providing a dozen helicopters which are assisting in rescue missions. The U.S support has been crucial in helping Pakistan in coping with this mammoth challenge.

  8. navanavonmilita

    My dear Raza,

    I hate to do this to you. May I be forgiven, so I pray.

    I take Shiv’s side on this issue. He speaks volumes. Not all his allegations are correct. They, the allegations, however, if not generalized, are very true.

    Pakistan’s public apathy towards government is phenominal. I wonder if any person has any idea as to what government does. Mostly the man on the street considers government, be that democratic, or be that autocratic, to be far away from solving their problems.

    This indifference is genuine. Moreover, it is passed from one generation to the other. It is not a family secret any more.

    The world of Pakistan consists of two kinds of people, Exploiters and exploitees.

    If the very population that is suffering now, in this mega disaster, does not trust the government, army and stand alone aid agencies, why would other donors would trust Pakistan?

    It is not a proper time or a place for me to go into details about the causes of this world distrust in Pakistan’s administration.

    I full heartedly support any and all to stop bitching, hedging and avoiding their moral duty and responsibility to help Pakistan.

    Pontification and defecation may wait for a later suitable date.

    May Allah be Praised.



    …and I am Sid Harth

  9. Pingback: May Allah be Praised: al PTH « News, Views and Reviews: Sid Harth

  10. Anonymous

    Good critique sir. I got tired of hearing the same arguments foreign news agencies have so curiously listed on their websites with a picture of an 80 year old woman next to it. They don’t realize the weakness of their own argument…well the afghan ordeal isn’t pinching any one any time soon is it?…when it does, only then we get the ‘fair share’.