Posts Tagged ‘ Pakistan Floods 2010 ’

Sami Yusuf – Hear Your Call (Pakistan Flood Relief)

A Charity Single Released By Sami Yusuf where all profits go to help the Flood victims of Pakistan

British singer-songwriter Sami Yusuf, dubbed “Islam’s biggest rock star”, is donating profits from his latest single to help flood victims in Pakistan. Born in Iran, but raised in the UK, the singer is urging fans to recognize the ongoing plight of those affected by the floods. Profits from Hear Your Call will go to Save the Children, which is working in the four provinces hit by the disaster.

Sami has sold more than seven million albums worldwide. He said: “This is an enormous disaster and I personally feel we all, as fellow humans, have a responsibility to help the victims in any way we can.

“The floods have completely changed many people’s lives and through our actions, we can offer hope. “In such times we have to align ourselves with the right organizations to reach out to the affected areas as effectively and urgently as possible.”

The track can be download from iTunes and the artist’s official website.
http://www.itunes.com
http://www.samiyusufofficial.com/

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More Military Aid to Pakistan?

By Aaron Mannes, Rennie Silva and V.S. Subrahmanian for The Huffington Post

As part of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, the United States has granted Pakistan over $2 billion in military equipment over the next five years. This aid is intended to support American policy objectives and help stabilize Pakistan, but it may be achieving the opposite.

Military aid for Pakistan has a clear, if narrow, logic: to ensure the supply lines for the 100,000 American and NATO ally troops deployed to landlocked Afghanistan. The United States has few viable alternatives to the Pakistani-controlled routes into Afghanistan. When Pakistan recently shut down the Torkham crossing into Afghanistan (after an accidental border clash with a NATO helicopter that left two Pakistani soldiers dead and four wounded), supply trucks backed-up and Pakistani Taliban set fire to over 100 vehicles. Though there was no immediate danger of shortages, the event signaled how difficult US-led operations in Afghanistan could become without support from Pakistan’s military.

Despite its indispensable role in the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s own stability is in doubt and military aid has been of limited utility. Since 9/11 the United States has delivered over $18 billion in aid to Pakistan, about two-thirds of which has been military. In that period, violence by Pakistan-based terrorists both within Pakistan and without has increased substantially. According to the National Counter Terror Center’s World Incidents Tracking System, 110 Pakistanis were killed in terror attacks in 2004. By 2007 that number had jumped to 400, and in 2008 the casualty figure more than doubled to nearly 900.

As illustrated by the recent bombing of the Criminal Investigation Building in Karachi which killed 20, American aid has not enabled Pakistan’s security forces to control the violence. Instead, Pakistan has become a base for terrorism not only targeting the Pakistani state but also India, as demonstrated by the 2008 Mumbai massacre and a deadly series of 2006 commuter train bombings in Mumbai which killed over 200 people. India’s response to these attacks has been muted, but its restraint is finite. Open hostilities with its neighbor to the east would be devastating for Pakistan, and could even trigger a nuclear exchange.

Although several thousand Pakistani soldiers have died fighting Islamist extremists, the Pakistani security establishment has been slow to adopt counter-insurgency methods of war fighting. Instead, it has preferred to continue its India-centric focus. Investigations of U.S. military aid intended to help Pakistan fight the Taliban find that it is often re-purposed to counter India. “I’ll be the first to admit, I’m India-centric” Pakistani army chief of staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani told Bob Woodward in his latest book, revealing a long-term strategy that is at odds with US interests.

Pakistan’s ongoing use of Islamist terrorists as proxies against India is especially troubling. President Zardari, who has stated “the undeclared policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hound was abandoned,” claims that Pakistan has turned against Islamist militants. But Pakistan’s generals have not received the memo, as investigations into the Mumbai attack show that links between at least some elements of the ISI and Lashkar-e-Taiba continue.

Pakistan has pursued some Taliban forces in its tribal areas, while leaving others alone to support future Pakistani interests in neighboring Afghanistan. Under such circumstances, America’s military aid is at best fueling Pakistan’s longstanding rivalry with India, and at worst enabling its enemies.

Pakistan’s high defense spending has robbed critical social programs of necessary resources. Pakistan continues lag behind comparable countries in general development indicators such as literacy and infant mortality, while its infrastructure is stretched to keep up with the needs of its fast-growing population. Under-funded and corrupt government institutions compound the situation. As Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders cynically seek to distract the public from these shortcomings, it is little surprise that Islamist groups often fill the vacuum by providing critical services or that the Pakistani people increasingly fall under their spell.

The long-term development shortfalls of Pakistan’s government have been exacerbated by a series of disasters including the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the 2008 economic crisis, and last summer’s massive flooding. The latter, which caused nearly $10 billion in damage, has created millions of refugees and devastated an irrigation system that was strained to meet the demands of Pakistan’s agricultural sector before the flooding. Today, its failure threatens to cripple a vital sector of the Pakistani economy for years to come.

American development aid cannot counter decades of Pakistani neglect, but it can play a productive role in addressing critical needs. Providing Pakistan with more military capability-capability that could contribute to regional instability if it is used on American allies-is unlikely to achieve either.

Atif Aslam, Todd Shea & Lanny- We Will Rise Again

Please watch this video and donate to help the people suffering as result of the Pakistan Floods of 2010.

To donate please visit link below:
https://secure.unicefusa.org/site/Donation2?df_id=8320&8320.donation=form1

Flood Relief: A US Helicopter Pilot’s Tale

By John Bockmann for The Express Tribune

I am an American helicopter pilot in Pakistan.  My colleagues and I came because Pakistan and its people are enduring the aftermath of a devastating flood.  We were ordered to be here, and we miss our homes, but most of us are glad to help because we believe it’s the right thing to do.

I did not know much about Pakistan before I arrived here.  I knew of the food.  I knew of monsoons and Mohenjo Daro, Karachi and the Khyber Pass, but I had no concept of what Pakistan looked, felt, or sounded like. I even thought many Pakistanis would want us to leave.

I had no idea what the people would be like in person.  I wondered if they would resemble the images I’d seen on TV – would they protest our presence in the streets?  Would they tolerate us?  Or would they simply ignore us and go about their business?

After a few weeks of packing and planning, we were ready to deploy.  Full of excitement and some anxiety, I kissed my wife, took one last picture and was gone. We flew on a cargo jet from Alaska to Islamabad and the flight took so long I hardly knew whether it was day or night when we finally arrived.  Shouldering my gear, I headed to the terminal, weaving among Pakistani military and civilians on the tarmac.  A US Marine captain guided my group inside where we filled out information cards and relaxed in the cool quietness, surveying our area; smooth stone floors, low-slung furniture, and ceiling fans spinning high above.  The captain was talking to a Pakistani man who had been helping us.  Before we left, the man shook my hand and looked me in the eyes. “Thank you for coming to my poor country,” he said quietly.

I wanted to convey the depth of my feelings toward him and his homeland, but all I said was, “You would probably do the same for us” as I walked away.

That was my first interaction with a Pakistani here.

The days since arriving have passed quickly.  Every day we take rice, flour, blankets, housing materials, cooking oil – anything – up and down the Swat and Indus River Valleys.  We also bring sick, injured, and displaced people to hospitals and hometowns.

My first mission took us up the Indus river valley, and I embarrassed myself by constantly exclaiming its beauty.  Below me was the Karakorum Highway – the old Silk Road into China – and the valley itself, with terraced farmland overshadowed by majestic, snow-capped mountains.

Along with the beauty, though, I see reminders of the flood, bridges that are broken or missing and roads and fields that have been washed away.  I am beginning to see widespread reconstruction now as well and feel hope for the people in these villages.  They will soon have another way to get help.

I realize that some who read this will question our intentions and some may even wish us ill.  I certainly did not imagine that cheering throngs would greet us at each village though – we are always welcomed.  I did not expect our goodwill to be taken at face value by all of Pakistan, but we have received immense support.

I have learned in my time here that Pakistani people are truly gracious.  Strangers have invited me for chai and conversation.  Almost anyone will shake my hand and ask my name, inquire about my health and how I am getting along.  Instead of a handshake at our first meeting, I have sometimes been embraced.  “Strangers shake hands,” my new friend Mahmood explained, “but brothers hug each other.”

This warms my heart.  My mission, our mission, is straightforward, noble, and good.  I am deeply grateful to those who support us here, for we need all the help we can get in order to help those in need.   I am honored to do this work. I feel at home here beyond anything I could have expected.

Ah, home!  I miss my home, my wife and family; each day I wonder when I will see them again. But we have a humanitarian mission to accomplish.  Since I must be away, I’m glad that I am here, doing work that’s needed and good.

When I do return home, I will bring with me hundreds of pictures, dozens of journal entries, six duffel bags, and several recipes for local dishes that I have enjoyed, but I will also bring innumerable memories that I will treasure for life — memories of Pakistan and its people.  They have surprised me with friendship.  I hope that through our work of compassion we may surprise them with friendship as well.

Moving Forward From the Flood – II

By Arif Belgaumi for The Express Tribune

The Indus, like the other rivers that originate in the Himalayas, carries an enormous sediment load — something in the order of 300 tons per square kilometre per year. The Himalayas, a relatively young mountain range, is comprised of soft rocks which are highly susceptible to erosion by the monsoon rains. In the past – every spring and summer – the Indus would bring the waters of melted snow and rains from the mountains, as well as millions of tons of sediment to the plains and eventually to its delta at the Arabian Sea. The sediment would be deposited along the river banks as the river flooded, and in the delta, in a vast fan that stretches several hundred kilometres out into the Arabian Sea.

In the last 150 years, with the construction of numerous levees, barrages and dams on the Indus and its tributaries, the natural flow of the river has been dramatically altered. To bring more land under cultivation, the course of the Indus has been restricted within its banks. Huge quantities of water – nearly 75 per cent of the total – are drawn off from the Indus for crop irrigation. Unfortunately, water management projects are engineered to control the flow of water and are rarely designed to address the enormous sediment load. Large amounts of water, drawn from the Indus for irrigation, limit the river’s ability to carry the sediment which settles in the river bed. Over the years this has resulted in raising the river bed well above the surrounding land. Even higher levees are then built to contain the river within its banks.

In its constrained state, the Indus is incapable of handling flood surges. Once the flood waters breach the levees there is no way for the flood waters to drain back into the river. This year, the flood itself was a short event; we have spent most of the last several weeks moving the water from one area to another, trying to spread it out and minimise its damage. The Indus and its tributaries naturally drain a vast area of this country. Our water management infrastructure has rendered them incapable of performing that function. In trying to convert the Indus into the equivalent of a vast domestic water system, whereby with the turn of a switch water can be tapped off as and when needed, we have severely compromised its ability to drain its watershed.

Similarly, dams will do little in the long run to control floods or even store extensive amounts of water for irrigation. Again, the sediment in the river is the determining factor. The Tarbela Dam, which was completed in the mid 70s and was a major engineering achievement for Pakistan, has already lost about 28 per cent of its reservoir capacity due to silting. In another generation, it is quite likely that the Tarbela’s water storage capacity will be reduced to nothing and it will simply function as a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power generator. That seems like an extremely short lifespan for a major infrastructure project which, during its construction, was responsible for an enormous socio-cultural and environmental impact on the surrounding region.

The Kalabagh Dam, or any other dam on the Indus, will likely face the same choice of a very high initial cost in terms of financial investment, population displacement and environmental cost, for diminishing returns over a relatively short lifespan. This is not to say that dams do not have their utility. The Tarbela Dam has been instrumental in revolutionising agriculture in Pakistan. But the benefits of large dams need to be weighed against the huge costs paid by the affected people and by the environment.

A balance needs to be struck between the needs for agriculture and domestic use and the need for the river system to sustain itself and its delta. New thinking on water management strategies must be introduced in Pakistan. More thought and effort must be expended on water conservation, reduction of wastage, and careful selection of low-water-consuming crops. This public discourse is sorely missing in Pakistan and needs to be initiated at the earliest so that we move forward from this calamity and establish a more productive relationship with the river that sustains our country.

Pakistan Floods: Why Should We Care?

By Ethan Casey for EthanCasey.com

Yesterday a non-Pakistani friend here in Seattle emailed me: “I wanted to ask you which you think would be the best organization to make a donation to for the current crisis in Pakistan. We usually give to MSF, but their website doesn’t seem to offer the opportunity to give specifically for Pakistan. Can you offer advice?”

This friend is British and greatly prefers British media outlets, but I need to believe that there are many Americans who also want to help flood victims in Pakistan – or who would want to, if they knew the scale and severity of the disaster.

Why don’t they know? We can, and I do, blame “the media,” but that’s unhelpful and ultimately a cop-out. Each of us individually has the opportunity and responsibility to be aware of every tragedy in our world, and we should be willing to exert ourselves to redress them. We’re all in this together. But the real problem is that there’s too much tragedy, and it’s happening too fast, and these days Americans are distracted and confused and worried about serious problems close to home, like our own jobs and mortgages.

This is understandable. But you need to know that all indicators are pointing toward an enormous, long-term human tragedy unfolding in Pakistan, and we need to do something about it, for several good reasons. The New York Times acknowledged one of these when – belatedly, in its first significant coverage of the floods that I noticed – it headlined an August 6 article “Hard-Line Islam Fills Void in Flooded Pakistan.”

A related point is that we Americans owe Pakistanis a measure of basic human respect and compassion, as well as gratitude specifically for the sacrifices they’ve made at our behest in several wars in Afghanistan. When we repay this debt, it will also redound to our benefit. “It’s high time we showed Pakistanis the best of America,” disaster relief specialist Todd Shea told me last year. “If you’re a true friend, you don’t run out on somebody when you don’t need them anymore. … Pakistanis don’t trust America anymore. We need to show Pakistanis who we really are.”

Todd Shea runs a charity hospital in the Pakistan-administered portion of the disputed region of Kashmir, where he has been working since the October 2005 earthquake that killed 80,000 people. He also responded urgently and effectively to the World Trade Center attack, the Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake this January in Haiti. He’s currently on the ground in Pakistan, running medical camps and providing drinking water, food, and other relief. An August 11 update on his organization’s website suggests the scale of the challenge:

In a recent statement appealing for more aid to Pakistan, UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said: “While the death toll may be much lower than in some major disasters, taking together the vast geographical area affected, the numbers of people requiring assistance and the access difficulties currently affecting operations in many parts of the country, it is clear that this disaster is one of the most challenging that any country has faced in recent years.”

Thousands of people are camped out on roads, bridges and railway tracks – any dry ground they could find – often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and perhaps a plastic sheet to keep off the rain. “I have no utensils. I have no food for my children. I have no money,” said one survivor, sitting on a rain-soaked road in Sukkur along with hundreds of other people. “We were able to escape the floodwaters, but hunger may kill us.” …

There is a desperate need to send more well-equipped medical teams to the flood-hit areas to prevent the further spread of disease. The victims of the flood have lost everything and cannot cope with potential epidemics on their own.

I’m writing this article because I live and work between two worlds: the mainstream North America that I come from, and the Pakistani immigrant community. My job is to help bridge the gulf in awareness and sympathy between those worlds. What I’m seeing right now is that Pakistani-Americans and their admirable and effective nonprofit groups are jumping once more into the breach, as they always do. And, as always, they’re confined – and confining themselves – to soliciting funds from each other.

The flooding is “well timed” in the sense that the fasting month of Ramadan has just begun, and many Muslims will be directing their annual zakat charity contributions toward flood relief. Pakistani-Americans are generally an affluent community, but there’s a limit to what they can do. Wealthy Pakistanis in Pakistan also need to help, and surely are helping. Just as important, we non-Pakistani Americans and Canadians must help. We also must somehow self-raise our own awareness, given the paucity of decent media coverage. This is important both for obvious-enough political reasons, and simply because it’s the right thing to do.

I see troubling contrasts between the outpouring of generosity and attention that followed the earthquake in Haiti and the averting of eyes from the flooding in Pakistan. I see several reasons for this: Haiti is nearby; the earthquake killed 200,000 or more people all at once. In addition, though, there’s the fact that Haiti is not a Muslim country. The earthquake fit right in with the story we were already telling ourselves about Haiti, which is all about poverty and tragedy. Dr. Paul Farmer sums it up pithily in the title of his book The Uses of Haiti. The uses of Pakistan are different. We need to move beyond the uses of both countries and toward understanding them accurately and respectfully, in their own terms. Our awareness of Haiti should be more political and of Pakistan less so, or differently so.

Anyway, back to my friend’s question. The short answer is that, as always, grassroots groups are more nimble and effective, and your money will be put to better use if you give it to groups that are nearer the ground. This is why the nonprofit groups founded and run by Pakistani-Americans are crucially important. I’m including links to several of these below, and I recommend them all.

I was jolted the other day when another friend suggested that being asked to donate to the excellent Islamic Medical Association of North America “could possibly turn some people off.” He’s probably right, but we goras need to get over our knee-jerk aversion to the word “Islamic.” Your doctor might be a member of IMANA. As a Haitian woman told Paul Farmer years ago, “Tout moun se moun” – all people are people. We’re all in this together.

Please contribute to flood relief in Pakistan through one of these organizations (listed in alphabetical order):

APPNA    www.appna.org/

The Citizens Foundation   www.thecitizensfoundation.org/

Developments in Literacy   www.dil.org/

Edhi Foundation    www.edhifoundation.com

Human Development Foundation     www.hdf.com/

IMANA    www.imana.org/

Islamic Relief USA    www.islamicreliefusa.org/ 

Relief International   www.ri.org/

SHINE Humanity   www.shinehumanity.org/

UNICEF    www.unicef.org/

Rescuing Pakistan’s Flood Survivors

Recovery efforts are underway in Pakistan where monsoon rains and severe flooding washed away tens of thousands of homes, killing thousands and leaving millions homeless.

How you can help? A number of charities are mobilizing medical, shelter and humanitarian aid, responding to the great need for flood survivors’ immediate needs.

AmeriCares emergency relief experts are working to send medical assistance and other aid to the flood-affected region in Pakistan. They are accepting online donations as well as phone donations at  1-800-486-HELP (4357)

British Red Cross is accepting donations of goods to the Pakistan Flood Appeal. Monetary donations in pounds can also be made online or by calling 0845 054 7206 in England.

CARE is supporting the distribution of emergency supplies and providing aid to health teams and mobile clinics in the affected communities in Pakistan. You can help by making an online donation.

Catholic Relief Services is currently organizing shipments of humanitarian aid to Balochistan, one of the affected areas. They are also sending emergency shelter kits and hygiene supplies to other flood-affected regions in Pakistan. Donations to their Emergency Relief fund are being accepted online and by phone at   1-800-736-3467.       

Concern Worldwide US is responding by sending emergency teams to the region, and they have launched their Pakistan Emergency Flood Appeal. They are working to provide about 9,000 families with kitchen sets and hygiene kits, clean water, temporary sanitation, and dry rations of food. Online donations can be made dollars, euros and pounds.

Church World Service is distributing food packages and shelter material for flood-affected families in Balochistan, Khan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as mobilizing a health unit to offer emergency medical assistance in Mansehra. Your donation can be made online and by phone at  1-800.297-1516        

Direct Relief International is providing emergency medical aid to healthcare partners responding to disaster in Pakistan. Donations to their Emergency Response fund can me made online and by calling  1-800-676-1638    

Doctor’s Without Borders is supporting basic health units in the flood-affected areas of Pakistan. The organization is also helping with water distribution to health structures, as well as hygiene products, cooking sets and other supplies. They are planning to send additional personnel and mobilizing resources to assist relief efforts. Contributions can be made online and by phone at 1-888-392-0392      

International Committee of the Red Cross continues to distribute relief supplies to over 7,000 flood victims in Balochistan. The ICRC and its partners are finalizing medical contingency plans for flood-affected areas, and for repairing critical water infrastructure. You contribute by making a donation in numerous currencies online.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are performing rapid needs assessments in affected areas and distributing food coupons and other relief items including tents, hygiene kits, tarpaulin sheets and kerosene stoves. They have also set up a medical camp in Sultan to offer immediate medical aid to affected families. You can help now by making an online donation.

Islamic Relief USA is providing food and water for 700 families In Noshara, distributing emergency supplies and working with the United Nations World Food Program to distribute food to 2,000 families in Bakhtiarabad. Islamic Relief has launched a campaign to aid the victims of the floods, which you can support by making an online donation.

Mercy Corps is accepting donations to provide flood victims in the hard-hit Swat Valley with water, food and tools to clean up and rebuild. You can donate online.

Oxfam Great Britain is looking to provide the needed temporary shelter, clean drinking water and toilets to help avert a public health catastrophe. They are accepting online donations in pounds, euros and dollars, and can be reached by telephone internationally at  +44 (0) 1865 47 2602. In England, you can text ‘DONATE’ to 70066 to make a donation of 5 pounds to their Pakistan Floods Appeal.

ShelterBox distributed hundreds of ShelterBoxes to families rescued from the flood in the Punjab and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KPK) regions. Find out how to become part of the ShelterBox Team or help the efforts by making an online donation in the UK and the US.

SOS Children’s Villages supports the children of Pakistan through different programs across the country and offers care of lone children following the disaster, as they did after the Kashmir Earthquake. You can make a direct donation in dollars or pounds and you can sponsor a child in Pakistan here.

UNICEF‘s Pakistan office is providing assistance for water and sanitation, health, and nutrition. They are distributing clean water and water purification tablets to prevent water-borne diseases and will continue to asses the situation to determine if further fundraising appeal is needed. If you are interested in becoming a UNICEF volunteer click here or support flood-relief efforts by making an online donation.

World Food Programme is making food distributions to 35,000 families affected by the flooding in Northwestern Pakistan. WFP Pakistan plans to assist up to 150,000 families over the next few months as access to the affected areas improves. You can help by making an online donation in either euros, dollars, pounds or yens.

World Vision is working to distribute food and clean water to the affected communities in Pakistan. They have created the World Vision’s Flood Relief Fund which you can support it by making an online donation.

Operation Blessing International is sending emergency medical relief teams to Peshawar, Pakistan. Working with their disaster relief partner charity Humedica, OBI will offer medical treatment and distribute food, clean drinking water and emergency building supplies to thousands in need from this flood. Support for OBI’s disaster relief efforts can be made online or by calling 1-800-730-2537  

Save the Children is providing food and water, shelter, sanitation and other immediate needs for the families and communities affected by this disaster. They are accepting donations to their Pakistan Children in Emergency Fund online as well as by phone by calling in the US    1-800-728-3843

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