Hussein Hamdani: Funding Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamic Relief charity will block Talibans
Author: Hussein Hamdani
Source: The Spectator / Hamilton, August 19, 2010, p. 13
Original title: Pakistan relief – save lives, block Taliban
Last week, Pakistan celebrated its 63rd birthday. At the time of the creation and partition of India and Pakistan, more than 10 million people migrated between the two countries. It was the single largest migration of men, women and children in the history of the world. For Pakistan, absorbing millions of migrants was a major test for the fledgling country. It passed that test.
However, it is being substantially tested today. This time, the rest of the world has a major stake in her stability and survival.
Officials estimate that as many as 20 million people throughout the country have been affected by the worst flooding in her history, with 650,000 homes destroyed.
Maurizio Giuliano, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs, said that the 20 million people affected outstripped the more than three million hit by the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, five million in the 2004 tsunami and three million affected by the Haiti earthquake in January this year. In other words, these floods have affected more people than those disasters combined.
Six million people still need food, shelter, water and medicine, the UN says. Pakistan’s government, already facing a Taliban insurgency, now faces the risk of social upheaval and long-term economic pain.
With an area roughly the size of Italy affected by floods, government and foreign aid has been slow in coming, and the UN has warned of a second wave of deaths among the sick and hungry if help does not arrive soon. Only a quarter of the $459 million aid needed for initial relief has arrived, according to the UN. The UN has reported the first case of cholera amid fears that disease outbreaks could spread with survivors sleeping in makeshift tarpaulin tents.
The international community has a vested interest in ensuring a strong, stable Pakistan, a country most important as a partner in combating Taliban-based militancy from spreading. She has lost more troops and civilians than any other country in this battle. She has sacrificed dearly in this cause.
However, as the rain continues to pour and more people are affected, anarchy and social upheaval will take root in absence of prompt and sufficient aid. There is no evidence that the aid is going to militants. In fact, Pakistani Taliban have said they will boycott all foreign aid.
They will also try to exploit the perceived lack of assistance by launching a recruitment drive. This paper’s cartoon referring to fears that aid could go to militants was unhelpful in my view.
One of the first relief agencies that was on the ground in the affected parts of Pakistan, helping the victims, is Islamic Relief — the world’s largest Muslim relief agency.
The Canadian office of Islamic Relief is in Hamilton. It is noteworthy that our city is home to charity that has already collected more than $2 million for Pakistani relief, providing tents, hygiene kits and water purification tablets. But we need to give more.
Canadians must be mindful of the need to demonstrate a strong bond with Pakistan by delivering humanitarian aid that is so urgently needed.
Canada’s initial contribution of $32 million via the Red Cross is a good start, but Canada should be prepared to go further and match private Canadian donor contributions — as it did after the earthquake in Haiti. With our troops just across the border, Canada must play a bigger part in the global show of solidarity with Pakistan in her hour of need.
Please consider donating to Islamic Relief Canada by going online to islamicreliefcanada.org, or mailing a cheque to Islamic Relief Canada, 88 Forsythe Ave. N., Hamilton, ON, L8S 4E4.
You will receive a tax receipt for your donation. Your money will not only save lives, but will ensure militancy does not take root.
Hussein Hamdani lives in Burlington, and works as a lawyer in Hamilton.