US races to trump militants in getting aid to Pakistan flood victims
US effort to help victims of the Pakistan flood is likely to expand beyond the $10 million already pledged, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday.
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The Pentagon announced Tuesday that four Chinook helicopters would be dispatched to help in the disaster relief. Two smaller Black Hawks were also dispatched. The military equipment is to be deployed at the discretion of the Pakistani government, according to the Pentagon, given the Pakistani government’s sensitivity to any suggestion of a US military presence in the country.Skip to next paragraph
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But US officials say the deployment of the Chinooks, giant helicopters that can evacuate large numbers of injured people or deliver substantial supplies, was requested by the government. Chinooks were dispatched to Pakistan in 2005 after a major earthquake.
Clinton referred to the 2005 aid effort and said the current campaign reflects an ongoing “partnership” with the people of Pakistan. At the same time, US officials skirted questions about the strength of such a “partnership” when surveys in Pakistan regularly show extremely low regard for the US.
Appearing with Clinton, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah sidestepped a question about America’s image in Pakistan, saying the US with its assistance was demonstrating to Pakistanis that “we are in this for the long haul.” The effect of the “large-scale and comprehensive” relief effort by the US would be to demonstrate “a long-term and enduring commitment,” he said.
Some skeptics of the US campaign to reach Pakistani hearts and minds through disaster aid and other assistance note that America’s poor image prevails despite massive aid after the 2005 earthquake and a multibillion-dollar program of development and education assistance approved last year.
Apparently betting that many Americans favor humanitarian aid in moments of crisis, Clinton noted that individuals can make their own $10 donation to Pakistan flood relief by texting the word “swat” to the number 50555. The money goes to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to provide shelter, food, clothing, and other supplies for Pakistan flood relief.
Clinton demonstrated on her own cellphone. “I just texted a contribution myself,” she said, adding, “I urge Americans to join this effort and send some much-needed help to the people of Pakistan.”
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