Nearing a month into the devastation of flood-stricken Pakistan where nearly 20 million have been displaced from their homes and risk of water born disease is causing emergency situations, I am surprised at the lack of coverage by American media. It's obvious the response from the West has been slow in all capacities, partly due to the fact that most of us are ill informed at the magnitude of Pakistan's tragedy or worse, don't care. The blare of repetitive news about devastation I have become accustomed in American news reporting is almost non-existent with Pakistan floods. By now, I would have expected a child or two plucked from her/his desolate fate and paraded onscreen to make us feel the suffering. Make us want to give money, clothes, whatever we could manage. Get us connected to a part of the world that seems so far away. I expected a flood of news reports and coverage, much like the coverage for Haiti Earthquake.
Without continual constant 'noise' and updated broadcast footage of the disaster, we cannot be expected to find our own news, can we? The fact is, the noise builds momentum, which also builds compassion. Without proper coverage, the devastation and suffering become invisible. Out of sight means out of mind. Ask the countless celebrities who will do just about anything to stay in the eyes of the media.
The problem of the lack of American news coverage goes much deeper then reporting the crisis in Pakistan. The West and Europe have adopted Islamaphobia, which obviously has clouded humanitarian concerns. The Afghani insurgents that seem to corroborate with Pakistani governments sit at the forefront of our minds. Ask David Cameron, who reportedly suggested that 'Pakistan was an exporter of terrorism' at a charity event. It seems that we see the face of the enemy in the victims of the floods, but they shouldn't be the ones we blame. They have been paying for a corrupt and inept government for years and currently they are the ones suffering the most.
Foreign aid and minimal coverage pretty much go hand in hand. It's taken almost a month for the international community to come forth with aid. After several pleas from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, only a fraction of the aid asked for is coming. The poor donor response from the global community hinders the success for organizations like the UN to help those in desperate need.
At this point, the urgent need to quell further cholera outbreak, bring clean drinking water and build infrastructure is crucial. Without it, the world will be facing the largest humanitarian catastrophe it has ever seen.
Any contributions that the world makes will contribute to peace. Hungry and angry people do not make a peaceful country. Contributions cannot just be considered in terms of dollars, it must be considered in terms of good will. Take India's offering of $5 million in aid to Pakistan. This rare gesture of kindness suggests solidarity. India probably would not have come to the table had there not been an increase in global reporting.
The US has given aid worth $90 million by way of 18 helicopters and personnel, diverting some of its military from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Saudi Arabia said it would give $80 million, with obvious designs to protect its theological presence in Pakistan. Countries like Germany have also pledged more money, none of it adding up to the $460 million that Ki-Moon says it needs. Countries are helping, not as quickly and vigorously as they could, but they are helping -- even if it is with fingers crossed and tight lips.
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