08/19/2010 01:49 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Children Under Water: Pakistan Relief Imperative

It's no secret that Americans not of South Asian descent are hesitant about providing any more money for use in Pakistan. But humanitarian aid provided to a country with 20 million persons (over half under age 15) affected by unprecedented flooding; with an active and deadly insurgency aimed at toppling a feeble, corrupt government which has an arsenal of nuclear weapons; and, which the United States Government is desperately supporting militarily as being in our highest US national interest...has people worthy of our support.

I prefer generating private good will towards Americans by doing good in a time of great suffering than by supplying endless blood money and heavy weapons. The kinder, gentler side of the US Government was much on display after the Asian Tsunami of 2005 and Pakistan's earlier and massive earthquake disaster which put 3 million people out of their homes. That kind of aid works very well and leaves a full heart in its wake.

Most private US relief groups want to be independent of US Government policy (Operation USA, for example, accepts no US Government money...period) unless these groups are forced into becoming government aid contractors because it is the only way they can have the resources to work. In most emergencies, that works out ok, but when there is an underlying armed insurgency as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Pakistan, the need for security often supercedes relief groups' preferred approach of remaining without armed guards. That puts all of their staff at risk, especially the 90-95% of US NGO staff who are locally hired to implement US-funded programs.

The relief community I've known for over 30 years wants to respond massively to such a huge mega-disaster. It cannot do this without money and materiel from the American people. Partnerships with trusted and effective local groups in Pakistan are critical as well. That various insurgent groups are also providing "hearts and minds aid" is ok, too. That's one battle US NGOs will win if we have the American people behind us.

If you can, try to give something. If you cannot, perhaps you can "get" from a friend or a local company which makes something useful to a flooded family.