United States Pledges Millions in Emergency Aid for Pakistani Refugee Crisis

Islamabad, Pakistan- The United States pledged an additional $110 million in aid to Pakistan on Tuesday as over two million Pakistani citizens fled the onslaught from the Pakistani army on the Taliban in the Swat region and northern areas of Pakistan. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the new aid package which includes radios, tents, blankets, emergency generators, medical supplies and food aid for the people who have left their homes in the region due to the heavy fighting between the Pakistani army and the militants.

Most of the aid will be given directly to the United Nations and its humanitarian agencies operating in the region as there is still suspicion on the part of the Obama administration that giving it directly to Pakistan may risk in having some of it being squandered as it has happened in the past. The administration is also urging average Americans and especially Pakistani Americans to aid the effort by donating aid to relief agencies operating in Pakistan.

The Obama administration has also set up a texting service by which people can use their cellphone to pledge $5 to the people of Swat by texting the word “Swat” to 20222 on any cellphone in the US. Secretary Clinton herself contributed $5 by using the same service from her cell phone. A million people giving $5 through this service would equal an additional $5 million for the people of Swat she said and it would be a significant contribution from ordinary citizens to show they care about what is happening.

She praised the Pakistani government in fighting the Taliban and taking the fight to them. This was in stark contrast to her earlier assessment of the situation last month when she told Congress that “the Pakistani government was abdicating to the Taliban.” She stated that there is a real national change in mood within Pakistan and that both the people and the government now realize that the threat from the Taliban is not only isolated to the remote northern areas of Pakistan, but that rather their reach and their violence has recently extended to all the major cities like Lahore and Karachi as well which are mega cities of millions of people.

Indeed the earlier actions of the government of President Asif Ali Zardari ranging from making treaties that did not last with the Taliban to relinquishing control of parts of the Swat valley to the them as well as allowing Islamic Shariah law to appease the Islamic extremists, only showed the inconsistencies and failures of their policies. There is a saying in Pakistan that translates into “Those who are swayed by physical punishment, do not change with words.” The Taliban have shown that they are not fit to be dealt with through diplomacy and dialogue but rather only understand the power of the fist.

It is very encouraging that both the Pakistani government is finally seemingly serious about tackling the Taliban inside its borders and also that the US is earnest in helping assist the Pakistanis in this battle. Secretary Clinton herself acknowledged that US policy towards Pakistan the past three decades has been very “incoherent.”

With a dedicated, determined and ever growing mutual threat like the Taliban as a common enemy, it is high time that both sides got their resources together and went after the militants with all their might.

It is never too late to stand up to evil and we at Pakistanis for Peace are very encouraged that the fight is finally being brought to the Taliban. It seems the recent meeting between Zardari and President Obama yielded some very good agreements and we hope that there is no letting up until the Taliban are destroyed and disbanded. This is where the global “War on Terror” will be fought and where it will be won.

Reporting by Manzer Munir for http://www.PakistanisforPeace.com

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