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Washington Orders Shahbaz Airbase Saved, not Pakistan's Flood Victims


By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 23 August 2010

Washington Orders Shahbaz Airbase Saved, not Pakistan's Flood Victims - by Stephen Lendman

With 20 million or more people affected, about 12% of the population, the equivalent of 37 million Americans, Pakistan's devastating floods are truly of biblical proportions, described by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as worse than anything he'd ever seen, saying:

"Thousands of towns and villages have simply been washed away. Roads, buildings, bridges, crops - millions of livelihoods have been lost. People are marooned on tiny islands with the floodwaters all around them (without food, sanitation, medical help, or shelter). They are drinking dirty water. They are living in the mud and ruins of their lives. Many have lost family and friends. Many more are afraid their children and loved ones will not survive in these condition."

One fifth or more of Pakistan is under water, the US equivalent of Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Florida, and Oregon combined, what's unimaginable in America and would never be tolerated without massive emergency aid.

Yet the Pakistani-based News reports that:

"Hundreds of thousands of people including children, women and aged men have been trapped on the rooftops of their houses as floodwaters with 5-feet depth has blanketed entire districts."

They won't survive without help. Deadly disease outbreaks are feared. Already, reports of cholera are surfacing, suggesting perhaps a much wider scale problem than verified.

Unknown numbers have perished, perhaps thousands, likely tens or hundreds of thousands before it's over. Yet aid so far donated has been pathetic, America providing token relief only, hardly enough to matter, Washington's usual response to great need, even emergencies, the way Haitian earthquake victims were treated, still on their own and out of luck eight months after their disaster.

Pakistan's government and world leaders have been disturbingly indifferent to the problem, doing far too little when massive amounts of emergency aid are urgently needed quickly.

Addressing the UN on August 19, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington would increase its donation to $150 million, $92 million to the UN, more for security than humanitarian efforts, Senator John Kerry (Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman) underscoring America's purpose on a visit to Shahbaz Airbase, saying:

"The objective is humanitarian, but obviously there is a national security interest. We do not want additional jihadis, extremists, coming out of a crisis."

Pakistan's Foreign Minister added:

"If we cannot deal with (the flood emergency) there are chances of food riots leading to violence being exploited by people who are known," a thinly veiled reference to "Islamist extremists."

On August 18, US Marine Commandant, General James T. Conway, met Pakistan's army Chief of Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in Rawalpindi to discuss security, not relief, Pakistan press reports saying "during the course of the meeting....they discussed issues pertaining to national security, war and terrorism, defense needs, etc. at length."

The plight of 20 million Pakistanis wasn't addressed, showing America's contempt for the needy, even under dire emergency circumstances, victims getting little or no aid, one man speaking for many, saying:

"We left our homes with nothing and now we're here with no clothes, no food and our children are living beside the road." So are millions of others, perhaps more than reported.

A Disturbing Asian Human Rights Commission Report

Issued on August 20, it's headlined, "PAKISTAN: Minister tasked with saving US airbase at the cost of the displacement of thousands," saying:

Reports say that "the US Air Force has denied the relief agencies use of the Shahbaz Airbase (it controls) for the distribution of aid and assistance. Soldiers of the Pakistan army, a federal minister and the administration of Sindh province are blamed for the incident involving Shahbaz Airbase at Jacobabad district" where flood waters were diverted to save the base.

As a result, 800,000 people were affected, displaced by floods, their homes lost, their condition desperate and worsening like for millions in affected areas.

Mr. Ejaz Jakhrani, Minister of Sports explained that "if the water was not diverted, the Shahbaz Airbase would have been inundated." He was assigned to protect it, former Prime Minister Mir Zafar Ullah Khan Jamali saying that doing it meant demolishing the Jamali bypass and letting the town of Dera Allahyar drown. He added that "if the airbase was so important, then what priority might be given to the citizens." He blamed "minister Jakhrani, DPO and DCO Jacobabad for deliberately diverting the course of the floodwaters toward Balochistan."

Other discussions confirmed that health relief operations aren't possible because America controls the base, and "there are no airstrips close to" affected areas, including Jacobabad.

Media reports said in 2001, the Musharraf government gave America control of Shahbaz to wage war on terrorism, the presence of army soldiers during the Jamali bypass breach a clear sign "that the Pakistan army (was) ordered to save the airbase." It meant flooding out hundreds of thousands of people, now stranded on their own without help.

"There can be no doubt that the presence of the Pakistan army personnel at (the Jamali bypass) indicates (that) this was an intentional breach," ordered by Americans in charge. "This must be investigated to ascertain who gave the orders. Those giving (them) must be prosecuted," condemning perhaps thousands of victims to death.

"It is a gross contradiction that the United States of America (donates aid, yet) refus(es) permission to use the Shahbaz airbase" to deliver it, the only facility able to do it for a large area affected.

Compare today's Pakistan to Haiti post-quake. America militarized the country, stressed security, took over the Port-au-Prince airport, obstructed relief supplies, sent in the Marines, and left millions of Haitians on their own, most getting little or no aid, nor are they now eight months later.

The same scenario affects Pakistani victims, America taking over, stressing security, and blocking aid, innocent people left stranded, perhaps to perish while imperial wars get limitless resources, powerful interests profiting at the expense of unwanted, deserted millions on their own and out of luck, the real face of US "democracy," in name only, not real.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

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Perhaps it's still too little, but what about the money the US gives to Pakistan and which I think to have last read is around $3bn a year? It might not be enough for this crisis, but would certainly be much better than $152mn even if they allocated only a third of the $3bn for this crisis.

American political "leadership", the financial elites, the MIC elites, and so on, probably would not approve of this, but should. And whose money is it anyway? Taxpayers; not corporations and financial elites.

I'm stunned by the huge size of the area that's been flooded; would've never imagined the kind of scale described in the article. Even an area the size of Texas, alone, being flooded would strike me as a huge flood. And it surprises me that it could rain this much. They have monsoon seasons, but I don't recall having ever heard or read of any causing floods on this scale.

It seems some people started speculating about or questioning if the U.S. caused this flood, I guess with the use of HAARP, f.e.; because a reporter I heard last week made sure to state that this is not a man-made flood and that it wasn't caused by the U.S.

The U.S. should help, materially and financially, or should at least have Pakistan use a good portion of what the U.S. gives the country yearly. But the government and BP are destroying the Gulf of Mexico and the lives of coastal state residents. And then we have the example of Haiti, as Stephen Lendman says. So it's not surprising that the U.S. State Department is only providing a small $152mn for this crisis in Pakistan. But it also wouldn't be right to give a lot for the crisis there and continue as the U.S. has been doing to Gulf coast Americans and Haitians; as well as Palestinians, the Congolese, and so on.

That makes the situation all the worse. The U.S. would never be able to compensate all of the victims it owes material and financial reparations to, much less additionally donating a lot of financial and/or material aid to populations in crisis or crises the U.S. isn't responsible for or the cause of. However, the U.S. surely could tell Pakistan to use a third or more of what the U.S. yearly gives to the country.

And of course the Shahbaz airbase should be used for responding to this crisis. It's extremely criminal to not do this. But U.S. "leadership" are addicted to crime and seem to never be able to commit or command enough to be satisfied.

In 2010 we are scheduled to give Pakistan $2.6 billion in foreign aid. Of this $1.2 billion is for the military and $1.4 billion is for non military that would include all sorts of U.S. "democracy promotion" projects which might sound good but are in reality programs to promote local elite rule favorable to the U.S. and to thwart actual populist organic democracy. In other words of this $2.6 very little will be helping their people.

Many of us in the U.S. suffer from believing capitalist government propaganda; i.e. that the U.S. is the most generous of nations and the poor heathens in the Third World are ungrateful for the bounty of our largess.

In fact the U.S. is second to the last in a group of 21 larger democratic countries in the percentage of national income given as foreign aid. Our .2% was slightly ahead of only Portugal and far behind Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands who all donate more than 4 times this amount.

An aside note, the U.S. is also the most unequal of these same countries. There appears to be a correlation between income inequality and a host of other maladies. With the U.S. leading in income inequality and trailing in physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teen age births, and perhaps most pitifully child well being.

http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/why
This website will open ones eyes to the effects of inequality in the U.S.

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