Muslim charities win praise as 'angels' in Pakistan floods

Muslim charities have been quick to step in to help after this month's devastating floods, winning hearts and minds as frustration with the government who pursues US-backed policies grows.

Muslim charities win praise as 'angels' in Pakistan floods

Pakistani Muslim charities have been quick to step in to help after this month's devastating floods, winning hearts and minds as frustration with the government who pursues US-backed policies grows.

The worst floods in 80 years have killed more than 1,600 people and left two million homeless along a broad swathe of the Indus river basin, from the north of the country to the south.

The army was quick to respond with rescue efforts, saving many lives as the torrent struck. The government, overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, has been blasted as ineffective.

It is often Muslim charity workers who are first to arrive to help people pick up their lives as the worst of the surge begins to ebb.

They may not bring huge resources to bear but they establish a presence, with at least a canvas awning beside a road, with a banner appealing for donations and a table covered with bottles and jars of basic medicine.

"They were the first to come with tractors and vans to evacuate our people," said Shafaatullah Khan who lives in a village near the Indus in Punjab province. "If they hadn't been many people would have died. They worked day and night to get people out and provide cooked food and water."

Nearby, workers of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) charity hovered around four huge pots, preparing food over a smoky fire while four women clad in burqas sat at a charity medical post.

"Angels"

This is not the first time the Muslim charities have mounted a high-profile response to a natural disaster in Pakistan.

"Everyone has a good impression of them," land owner Mohammad Ali Khan said of the Muslim charities.

"They do their part," Khan said in the village of Isa Khel, as diesel pumps clattered nearby, trying to suck water out of a row of shops over a muddy road and into water-logged fields.

In 2005, they established a reputation as a tireless relief group by helping many thousands of survivors after an earthquake struck the north of the country, killing 73,000 people. They have also helped people displaced by army's offensives under US pressure against local pro-Taliban fighters who opposes to US-led invasion in Afghanistan.

Many flood victims criticise the authorities for what they see as their failure to bring help quickly.

Many Pakistanis deeply already oppose US policy in the region largely because of its invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan which are seen as attacks on Islam.

The JuD is the charity arm of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group, which has for years been battling Indian forces in the independence of Muslim Kashmir.

India accused the LeT of being behind Mumbai attack in 2008, while the group denies this. Shortly after that, UN put the JuD on so-called "terrorism" list.

"We don't have any political agenda," said JuD spokesman, Yahya Mujahid, who declined to comment on links to LeT.

Mujahid said his group would contest elections if it wanted to get involved in politics.

"Our work is totally humanitarian," he said, adding that it helped everyone, regardless of religion.

Another JuD official said a government crackdown on the group's finances had created problems but Mujahid said hostility towards his group bolstered its standing in the eyes of many: "The propaganda against us actually works in our favour."

Villagers in the saturated flood plains along the Indus are simply thankful for whatever help they get.

"For us they're angels," retired policeman Gul Mohammad Khan said of the relief workers.

"We don't care who they are or what their agenda is. We were in crisis and they were the first to help. That's it."


Agencies

Last Mod: 09 Ağustos 2010, 11:58
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Tughlaq
Tughlaq - 10 yıl Before

Will Pakistanis chase this government?