THERE are two strong reasons why Britain in particular should act to help Pakistan in its hour of need. The first is the humanitarian crisis in which millions of people have lost family members, their homes and land. The second is that if the government of Pakistan is not helped in every possible way to take the lead in an effective relief effort the resulting vacuum will be filled by terrorist groups which will use the opportunity to gain support for their future activities. Already the Pakistan Taliban has told the government not to accept international aid with its “un-Islamic” values. The United Nations has launched an appeal to member states for US$460 million to enable its agencies to respond to immediate needs -- food, clean water, emergency health services and shelter. It is always difficult to track donations -- not just pledges -- to international appeals but at present Britain leads the way with $16m committed, followed by Australia, the United States, Kuwait, Japan and Norway and some fourteen other nations (not including India). The total so far of about $60m falls far short of what the UN's humanitarian aid specialists believe is needed. Pakistan has an efficient army and civil service capable of putting funds to good use; Britain should take this opportunity, notwithstanding its own economic problems, to demonstrate how much it wants sustain a stable and democratic Pakistan at this dangerous time.


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