Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Lefty Tariq Ali on the earthquake relief effort in Pakistan:
The government is doing its best, but it is not enough. The absence of a proper infrastructure, a dearth of reserve funds to deal with unexpected tragedies, and a total lack of preparedness despite annual disasters on a lesser scale, have cost innumerable lives. To watch General Musharraf on television bemoaning the shortage of helicopters was instructive. A few miles to the north of the disaster zone there is a large fleet of helicopters belonging to the western armies occupying parts of Afghanistan. Why could the US, German and British commanders not dispatch these to save lives? Is the war so fierce that they are needed every day? Three days after the earthquake, the US released eight helicopters from "war duty" to help transport food and water to isolated villages. Too little, too late.
Where, exactly, were large quantities of helicopter transporatble relief supplies to be obtained given the chaos in Pakistan? In any event, Ali thinks the military is ill suited to the relief role:
Pakistan's army has been put into action, but armies are not suited to relief work. They are not trained to save lives, and reports yesterday that aid convoys are being attacked and seized by angry crowds long before they reach their destinations are an indication of the chaos.
No doubt he'd be happy to see angry crowds attacking US military helicopter crews for doing too little too late.


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