Pakistan: Do You Care About The Plights Of The Flood Victims?

Try this on Google: search ‘Pakistan flood’ in English and you’d find around 21,400,000 results. But you would find only about 1,760,000 results when you search the keyword in Chinese. The difference in attention is striking.

Is it possible to make the assumption that English-speaking people have bigger hearts to pity poor countries? Just like Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg claimed on the 17th August, 2010 that Britain had taken a leading role in the relief effort and the international response to the devastating Pakistan floods was ‘absolutely pitiful’.

The Sound of Hope, an international radio providing news concerning Asia, also agreed that UK as a country was inspiring other countries to offer more funds for the victims of Pakistan floods.

Aerial view of flooding in Pakistan. Image by Flickr user DFID – UK Department for International Development. CC BY-NC-ND

But surprisingly, on Aug 19th a blogger called K^se mentioned in Pakistan Defense Forum that with $105m (£67m) in aid “Saudi Arabia has overtaken the US as the largest donor to Pakistan's flood relief and rehabilitation efforts. Britain is giving £31m, and the US is giving $76m in cash.”

Yet more perspectives are there on the internet arguing that those who ‘should’ help haven’t offered enough. Take for instance the quotes from the BBC News article “Who cares about Pakistan”, which state that Muslim countries need to do more in helping Pakistan.

While the media was provoking countries on this issue, a quiet Chinese blogger defended his country on his blog:

“It seems like nothing the 60 million RMB (about $1million) our government is donating comparing to others when China has the tightest relation with Pakistan. Maybe Beijing knows how much problem we have in our country, or maybe it just knows Pakistan needs more substantial goods instead of cash.”

If there was a contest about ‘the kindest country of the world’, maybe we could announce a winner by measuring each country by how much it has contributed to a particular relief fund.

Based on Wikipedia stats, if we take a formula of a country’s kindness= contribution for flood relief/ total nominal GDP2009, we come up with a result: The Saudi Arabia (0.0255) > UK (0.00458) > India (0.002) > Bangladesh (0.0019) > USA (0.0011) > China (0.0008). Even though it is obvious that this hypothesis was made for fun, it is still a wonderful example telling us:

  • Often we waste too much time on meaningless comparison when we can simply focus on what is good to be done.
  • Often we think we as a country has done so much that we have the ‘responsibility’ to push others to give, but actually we have to correspond these issues as an individual.

Your country or your religion cannot make you a better person, and even though other counties might have certain problems such as corruption or terrorism, it doesn’t make its people less of a human.

On 18 September the UN again launched an appeal for US$ 2 billion in aid to Pakistan, when not even 80% of the previous pledges ($460m) were actually delivered. It is unusual how slowly people responded to this issue. Perhaps this is because of what Dr. Elizabeth Ferris said at BBC news: “people are less likely to donate to any country seen as a haven for terrorism”.

Fazal Mowla stands in front of his collapsed house in Faizabad village in Swat. Image By Oxfam International. CC BY-NC-ND

These people who are crying out loud for aid can’t possibly all be terrorists, can they? Oxfam Hong Kong uploaded an album of 42 pictures on flickr, and each picture contains a face, and a story of gratitude behind.

We need to stand together as human beings, as Saif Rana, a university student in Lahore, Pakistan said in an email which was posted in my own blog:

“It’s a myth that countries are recognized on the basis of their leadership and policies that they made and decisions they take. Truly speaking, we are not about them. They are not the mirror of the society”

He also encouraged to consider the human sides:

“People classified the nations as Pakistanis, Indians, Taiwanese, Chinese, Russians and etc. unfortunately we forget that we are human beings first !!! It’s the time when nature is testing not only Pakistani people (Pakistani human beings) who lost their home, children and almost everything in recent deadly floods; but also a test for the people living in various parts of the world that how much they can contribute towards the welfare of the people of Pakistan.”

We, as individuals can do many things, but the first step is to think that everyone should focus on his or her share in caring Pakistan. Or we can choose to think just like the following video of “The ‘Don’t’ Help Pakistan Campaign”:

The video was filmed under the supervision of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Charity Foundation, the largest charity foundation in the Middle East based in Dubai. The event “Charity Suhoor in Aid of Pakistan” was held on 7th of September, 2010 at Monarch Hotel in Dubai, and 200,000 Dirham ($54451) was collected for the Pakistan flood relief.

Quotes from the campaign video:

“Only a fifth of the country is under water.”

“Who cares about Pakistan?”

You know the answer; as you are free to see things and feel for people. Also because, you are a human being who is free to give a hand.


  • Maura Youngman

    Here’s another one –
    Notice the spike, and lack thereof? A Google Trends visualization of how little the US cared about the Pakistan flooding versus the Haiti earthquake (Haiti in blue):

  • Maura Youngman

    sorry – (Haiti in red)

  • azmat

    The United States of America has always done more than its fair share to help the govt. and its people. When you do less and more it doesn’t matter. Its the act of kindness and compassion that matters most, beyond that it turns into \begging for more\ habit. Pakistani govt. has played the role of a beggar state for a long long time. Its time for Pakistan to wake up from the ungrateful state of mind and stop looking for a handouts from the people it hates the most.

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