Pakistan Problems Worse Than Yours (Probably)

I tend to write about things like video games, love, movies, anger, webcomics and music. Every once in a while I write about something important. This is one of those times.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the news, Pakistan recently got slammed by a flood the size of the state of California. It’s estimated that 20 million people have been affected by it so far and nearly 1500 deaths have been confirmed. There could be a lot more since the flood is so enormous and devastating that there are people that relief and aid haven’t been able to reach. Nearly one million people are homeless. Nearly one million homes have been damaged. Nearly 3.5 million children are in danger. Nearly 1.7 million acres of wheat, sugar cane and rice have been destroyed.

As bad as it all sounds, this is only the beginning. Waterborne illnesses are expected to be rampant in the near future. Famine could occur thanks to the huge tracts of ruined farmland. And much of that farmland may not be usable for a few years.

Jam Saifullah Dharejo, the Minister of Irrigation in Sindh province, has warned that the next 24 to 48 hours could see more flooding. Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General has declared the flood worse than the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami AND the 2005 Pakistani Earthquake. Combined.

If you don’t remember those horrors, perhaps Kimya Dawson can remind you a bit.

Fortunately, the United States (along with the rest of the world, including India!) have already started sending aid. Millions of dollars have been sent along with vehicles, manpower and supplies. But it isn’t enough and until the water recedes and the damage can be fully assessed we won’t know what is enough.

Many of you think that broadcasting a tragedy and opening people’s eyes to what’s happening in the world isn’t enough to push me to write something in my little corner of the digital world. Many of you would be correct.

What is enough? The fact that I’ve already started reading stupid and ignorant remarks from people.

You see, the last few days I’ve been woefully ignorant of what’s been going on in the world. I’ve had my own problems to deal with and I’ve been focusing on other things. But last night I came across a post by a dear friend of mine on Facebook. He was sending his best wishes to the people of Pakistan. Below that, in the dreaded comments section, he had to defend himself because someone spouted something earlier about Pakistan being a terrorist state. I wrote him a quick message, that I’m going to copy here:

You are absolutely correct. Pakistan is not a terrorist state. Because of geography, economics and politics, there are places in Pakistan that have become safe havens for terrorist cells. Northern Pakistan, especially the area between Afganistan and Kashmir (an area that is constantly being fought over by India and Pakistan), is a breeding ground for terrorist cells and because of the proximity of Tajikistan, northwestern Afganistan and Kashmir, it is the most difficult part of the country for the Pakistani police and military to control. Combine that with the greed and corruption inherent in any government, and you can understand why there are so many terrorists in Pakistan.

But having terrorists in your country does not make you a terrorist state. If it did, every country on the planet would be a terrorist state. I’ve met and become friends with a large number of Pakistanis and they are both pro-Democracy and very Western friendly. The government itself is trying to work on the terrorist problem, but because of the geographic and political position they are in they can’t deal with it in as direct and forceful a manner as most would like.

Unfortunately, the United States media paints Pakistan as a terrorist threat because it is easy. They are far away, they are brown and they are Muslim. Therefore, they are a target. The media is wrong, though. If Timothy McVeigh wouldn’t have gotten caught as quickly as he did, and would have fled to the hills of Arkansas or Missouri to hide, condemning that state for harboring terrorists would be the same as what the media is doing to Pakistan.

But now I’m going to go a step further.

Quite frankly, I don’t care if Pakistan is, was, or ever will be a terrorist state. What kind of people are we that, in the midst of what is potentially the greatest natural disaster in the modern world, we are even beginning to think about what this means for terrorism? As an evolved, empathetic and caring species we should be more worried about the victims of the disaster in their time of need.

Twenty million people are in trouble. One-fifth of the country is under water. Three and a half million CHILDREN are in a very high-risk situation. Now is not the time to be discussing Pakistan’s political or religious agenda. Now is the time to do what we can to help, and at least act like caring, compassionate people when we can’t provide help.

India, Pakistan’s arch rival, is helping. They’re willing to do anything they can to provide aid to the millions of people that have already been affected by this and the millions more that will be in the future. If they can put aside their differences, differences that have cause wars, why can’t we? Especially when the truth of the matter is we actually have very few differences to put aside.

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