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The Monitor's View

Pakistan flood: Where are Islamabad's Muslim friends and China when it needs them?

The US has increased aid to Pakistan for the flood disaster. Saudi Arabia has, too. But other Muslim countries and big-ally China lag.

By the Monitor's Editorial Board / August 19, 2010

The United Nations is sending out a cry for more international aid to cope with Pakistan’s unprecedented flood, which covers an area about the size of Florida. The US is responding, but other nations, particularly Pakistan’s Muslim friends and big-ally China, must also step up.

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The UN says it needs $459 million in immediate assistance for Pakistan. Today, the US upped its contribution to $150 million, from previously committed aid of about $76 million. America is the largest global donor by far, partly for strategic reasons.

As Democratic Sen. John Kerry said, the US does not want failure to multiply and strengthen jihadists and terrorists who could take advantage of the chaos, destruction, and suffering affecting some 20 million Pakistanis.

Critics in the West and also in Pakistan have wondered why response from Muslim friends and neighboring China has been slow and low. Saudi Arabia, one of Pakistan’s closest Muslim allies, reacted by considerably increasing aid to $80 million from about $20 million.

That should serve as a catalyst for other Muslim nations in the Gulf region, many of which have the wealth to contribute. Kuwait, for instance, has offered only $5 million, same for Oman. Iran is in for $800,000, Qatar for $400,000, and the United Arab Emirates? Officially nothing.

Some Pakistanis, meanwhile, question why a relationship with China that is supposedly “as high as the Himalayas” has produced an offer of only $9 million – not even a foothill.

Perhaps China’s help will kick in quietly and substantially in the reconstruction phase, as it did for the 2005 Pakistani earthquake. Roads, homes, livestock, farms, and government buildings have been lost and will take several years – and billions of dollars – to rebuild.