Saturday, May 23, 2009

About that Pakistan refugee crisis ...


An internally displaced woman fleeing a military offensive in the Swat valley holds her child as she stands in her tent at the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) Jalozai camp. May, 23 2009. Photo: REUTERS/Ali Imam (PAKISTAN POLITICS SOCIETY)

The other day I pointed out that the United States had just encouraged Pakistan's army to drive over a million people out of their homes. I'm trying to follow that story.

I do my homework and I try to figure out what is going on. Sometimes I just get more confused. [Emphasis mine.]

"A key aspect to the new strategy is to put more attention and resources toward Pakistan’s economic and governance challenges," Richard Holbrooke, Obama's special envoy to the region, told Congress last week. Yet Pakistan's prideful insistence on its sovereignty means, among other things, that the United States cannot provide relief directly to internally displaced civilians. Their fate will now depend on Pakistan's fragile and unpopular government, with support from charities and the United Nations; the Obama Administration must stand in the rear, urgently working its bellows.

Steve Coll
The New Yorker
May 25, 2009

Okay -- so Mr. Coll says the U.S. has good intentions about the displaced people, but Pakistan resists us tromping around. All understandable, though it does seem it would have been simpler (and easier for a lot of Pakistanis) if the U.S. had been inclined to discourage the sort of military operation that causes a refugee crisis. I am not yet ready to believe we want to make Pakistan more unstable. I hope.

Then I read this:

"It's our war against the extremes," says Marvi Memon, the most outspoken of the visiting delegation and a member of the Pakistan Muslim League. But she wants to know why the U.S. isn't doing more to aid the displaced persons. Why isn't there a number to call on television the way there was for the victims of Katrina? This week, the State Department had put in place a system for people to text $5 for Pakistani relief efforts. That morning, as Memon and the others in the delegation urged more assistance, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood in the White House briefing room announcing a $110 million aid package.

Eleanor Clift
Newsweek
May 22, 2009

That reads like a vigorous request for help from a member of parliament.

So is Coll accurate? Or is Clift?

In general, the Clift article is both worth reading and pretty dopey. Dopey because it's an example of the wide-eyed, racist wonder genre: Oh gee, five Muslim women members of the Pakistan Parliament can actually talk, think and make demands -- who'd have thought it? Worth reading because the Pakistanis do have something to say about this Afghanistan-Pakistan war we're carrying on in their country -- and the fact they don't like it is liable to derail the effort.

We are warned.

2 comments:

Nell said...

The battles across the northwest have sent panicked civilians fleeing their homes, some crowding into refugee camps but most huddling with relatives.

"In the new influx, 2.38 million people have been registered," said Ariane Rummery, spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, citing figures given to the agency by the North West Frontier Province authorities.

"That's the new influx registered from May 2 from Swat, Lower Dir and Buner (districts)," she added.

Nell said...

link

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