Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Radical Religious Charities Win Race To Save Pakistanis


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Pakistan, like the USA, spends much of its public funds on the military. This means they don't have much of a safety net for their citizens. Like the USA, this spending is a waste since the military can't mobilize properly to protect the citizens in times of emergencies. So the radical religious fanatics step in to fill the gap. From the Washington Post:
The army was slow to respond, and international aid agencies are in some ways just getting started. But here amid the rubble and the rain at the heart of Pakistan's earthquake zone, the zealous foot soldiers of Jamaat ul-Dawa, one of the country's most prominent Islamic extremist groups, are very much in evidence.

On a sloping muddy field near the rushing Neelum River, the group has established a large field hospital complete with X-ray equipment, dental department, makeshift operating theater, and even a tent for visiting journalists. Dispensaries are piled high with donated stocks of antibiotics, painkillers and other medical supplies.

"Even the army people have come over here to get first aid," said Mohammed Ayub, a long-bearded urologist from Lahore who is volunteering at the field hospital. "The casualties and destruction are so much that they are unable to cope."

Jamaat ul-Dawa is no ordinary charity. Founded in 1989 under a different name, it is the parent organization of Lashkar-i-Taiba, one of the largest and best-trained groups fighting Indian forces in the disputed Himalayan province of Kashmir. Lashkar-i-Taiba has been linked by U.S. authorities to al Qaeda and in 2002 was banned by Pakistan's government as a terrorist organization.

Jamaat ul-Dawa is one of several hard-line Islamic groups that have assumed a prominent role in relief operations following the devastating Oct. 8 earthquake in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir and adjacent areas.
The article details several other groups who are providing care and comfort. At first, the writers for American news media pretended this great quake would weaken the antigovernment movements that are very strong in this region. Instead, as I expected, it showed the military dictatorship to be inept and incompetent. The European media had stories about the rising rage the earthquake victims felt, American media showed our military helicoptering in tiny amounts of food and blankets. The problem with this "from the air" response is that it is ineffective if there is no one on the ground organizing things. The Peace Corps was founded on this idea that having a presence on the ground amoungst the peasants gives back better information and improves relations with this difficult portion of humanity.

Of course, we no longer really have a Peace Corps and it was riddled with CIA operatives anyway so no one trusts them anymore.
Qazi Kashif, who edits Jamaat ul-Dawa's national magazine and was visiting the camp Saturday, said that the organization no longer had any connection to Lashkar-i-Taiba and that the insurgent group now operates purely on the Indian side of Kashmir. Jamaat ul-Dawa, he said, is "for preaching and public welfare."

But he added, in reference to the Kashmir insurgency, "We are in favor of jihad, no doubt."

Lashkar-i-Taiba operated for years with the blessing of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, which provided the group with arms and training and helped launch its fighters across the cease-fire line separating Pakistani and Indian forces in Kashmir. It was founded by Hafiz Sayeed, a former Punjab University engineering professor who also started Jamaat ul-Dawa. The two groups shared the same headquarters in the town of Muridke near Lahore.

During the height of the insurgency in the 1990s, Lashkar-i-Taiba fighters assembled openly in Muzaffarabad and nearby training camps. In early 2002, under intense pressure from the United States, Musharraf banned the group and froze its assets. Sayeed was subsequently arrested, although a Pakistani court later ordered his release.
Just the other day, the Bushies were all openly worried about the rise of a greater Islam Empire threatening our hold on the Holy Land, a replay of the Middle Ages. Yet we let the peasants and townspeople of Muslim lands to languish or suffer. Instead of winning hearts and minds we armtwist our puppets into doing our bidding.

This practice of going to Muslim lands to harrangue or harrass into submission has so degraded our diplomatic abilities we go to our creditors in Asia and act the same way. It is hard to mentally switch gears in best of times. With the Bush crew, it is nearly impossible which is why the mess in Central Asia is happening here at home!

Namely, the social safety net is being shredded as Congress cuts food stamps and school funds and medical care. At the same time, they give tax money to churches that are the mirror image of the Jihadists in Central Asia. These churches are using tax funds to propagate their Crusader philosophy and like the Jihadists, destroy educational training via inserting religious fairy tales in lieu of scientific method and twisting history by cutting off the previous 5 billion years of earth history from students, prefering to pretend the earth suddenly appeared out of thin air in recent times.
At the Jamaat ul-Dawa field hospital Saturday, Abdul Majid said he did not know whether the group was involved in violence, nor did he care. A 35-year-old construction worker, he was lying in a leaky tent with a broken leg and back injuries from the earthquake, which killed two of his children, ages 2 and 4.

"Every 10 minutes a doctor or medical attendant comes in to check on me," he said from beneath a heap of blankets. "I have a very high opinion about this organization."
Note the low opinion of the government and high opinion of the religious organization. All entities understand that getting results matter which is why the feeble organizational efforts of FEMA are so depressing. Here is an example. From the Columbia Tribune:
So say many of the firefighters who wanted FEMA to put them to work and instead feel like they wasted taxpayers’ money. One of them, a Missouri firefighter who used to ply his trade in Boone County, kept his wife informed of his exploits, and she kept a diary of his so-called work. It ought to be required reading for every federal official, bureaucrat or politician who becomes involved in the business of studying what went wrong with Hurricane Katrina. Mostly, it’s a diary showing the frustration of a citizen whose government got in the way of his job. She agreed to share the diary with me if I didn’t name the firefighter or his department. Here’s what his time in the Gulf Coast looked like. I’ve edited it for length.
Following this is a detailed account. Seems the firemen were used mostly for show, namely, to wear FEMA shirts and mill around for photo ops. Bush did this too. Photo ops like this were done by Musharaff in Pakistan but he is rather unpopular, like Bush, so he couldn't show up where al Qaeda and other groups openly operate.

Indeed, Bush can't show up in many places here in America without first scrubbing the place of all potential anti-Bush elements like Cindy Sheehan.

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