Monday, November 07, 2005

Reality Checks for Quake-affected Pakistan

At last some commonsense from Pakistan.

President Musharraf has postponed the purchase of the US F-16 fighter planes. He wisely said that Pakistan will concentrate on the rebuilding of its Kashmiri region which has been severely struck by the recent earthquake. The reconstruction will demand at least US$5 billion.

Certainly a financial reality check.

But Musharraf is pissed off because he reckons international aid has been not as forthcoming as it had been for the victims of the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. He termed the responses as double standards.

Musharraf is wrong to put the tsunami disaster on the same catastrophic level as that for Hurricane Katrina. In the former, several countries were badly affected, with 450,000 officially listed as killed. The unlisted deaths probably ran as high as that, as there have been suspicions that India had deliberately suppressed the numbers of its dead. Some countries affected by the tsunami are fairly poor 3rd World nations (without any expensive nuclear weapons programme like Pakistan's).

However, I agree with him that the response to Katrina has been far better than that for Pakistan’s victims. Take just one example, that of the contribution by Kuwait. That Gulf Arab State gave an ‘initial’ US$2 to the tsunami victims of impoverished Indonesia and Sri Lanka, US$500 million to very rich USA for Katrina’s damage, and US$100 million to poor Pakistan.

Certainly what Pakistan had received was only one-fifth of what rich USA obtained from Kuwait, but US$100 million is one hell of a lot more than the relative pittance tossed along the way of several SE Asian countries including Muslim Aceh.

Certainly a (Muslim) friendship reality check.

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