As I was listening to a program on NPR on Thursday afternoon or maybe yesterday (impossibly hot New England temperatures can confuse the brain) concerning why Americans aren’t giving $$ to Pakistan relief organizations, I did my usual radio-conversation-thingy; I talked back to the reporter. The reporter announced 3 reasons for lack of American support: summer is a down season for giving, not enough terrible TV footage playing 24/7 (think Hati relief agencies like AmeriCares, Red Cross, etc. constantly asking for $$) and lastly, earthquakes (disaster lasts longer, more opportunities for photo-ops) tend to inspire more giving than floods (water recedes quickly). My answer didn’t match any of the most popular responses – but I didn’t think that I was that outside the loop.
I wondered why the reporter didn’t focus on what I consider the number one reason that I thought at the time to be obvious: Pakistan, although claiming and acting on the surface like our political friend in the war against Afghanistan (but an arms race enemy of our friend India) harbors Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in its bordering Afghanistan/Pakistan mountains that are killing our troops. Hmmm. Shouldn’t this have been the lead answer, or is it too intolerant an answer? Sort of makes a patriot question sending aid that may very well be diverted to arm the Taliban, doesn’t it?
Another reason for low American aid could be the fact that Pakistan government agencies in the relief business are extremely corrupt. Relief corruption reports that have been getting a lot of mainstream airplay focus on following the $$ trail: the relief has been going to the wealthy and not to the refugees that badly need medicine, food and shelter. This type of bad press will tighten American wallets; no one wants to support greed in a time of misery.
My third thought was, what about all those wealthy Middle Eastern countries in the area – why aren’t they giving? The reporter segued into this answer seamlessly: an Islamic agency was collecting relief aid funding for distribution to the Pakistan government officials that I referenced above – so, again nothing would be trickling down to the neediest flood victims. This should be the focus of the reporting, something a little more gutsy- not why Americans aren’t giving, but reporting on the agencies that distribute to the refugees successfully. Then the $$ will flow into the right hands, eliminating greed and harm to our troops.