Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who Will Help?

Having just briefly examined the Pakistan flood through the lens of social activism, I think it is worth considering Ahmed Rashid's post to NYR Blog on this topic. His title, "Last Chance for Pakistan," is a clear statement of the seriousness of his intentions, concerned primarily with Pakistan getting the aid it desperately needs. I have to wonder, however, whether or not he appreciated the irony at the end of his post:

Readers who wish to make a donation to help the aid effort in Pakistan may do so online at the American Red Cross and the American Jewish World Service.

In reviewing the donations that have already been made, Rashid observed that donations "especially from the Islamic world have been negligible;" but does this justify a conclusion that cites no Muslim organization contributing to that aid effort? Think, also, about where we are likely to find "boots on the ground" where aid is concerned. Would there not be an expected level of contention over aid offered by a Jewish organization; and will it make a difference "on the ground" that the American Red Cross is a secular institution? We just read about support activities by members of a Christian organization who will killed by the Taliban for having tried to convert Muslims, an accusation denied by the authorities of the organization with little impact. As those better informed than I have explained, the primary problem in aid is not the acquisition of resources but their delivery. Rashid does not address this delivery question in his blog post, and that is a critical omission for those who have the best of intentions in making donations.

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