Pakistani envoy needs to assure Irish aid donors

THE catastrophe that has struck Pakistan is gargantuan, but the Irish aid agencies and Government responded with customary spontaneity and wholehearted engagement, supported by the generosity and compassion of the Irish people.

However, the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zadari, chose to leave his country as this crisis unfolded to sip sparkling aqua minerale at the Elysée Palace and tea at Chequers, rather than ensuring his presence in Pakistan, his leadership and his moral authority clearly visible, connected to those in need and standing as a symbol of reassurance to potential aid donors overseas.

Zadari is the widower of Benazir Bhutto, who was twice prime minister of Pakistan, and he is reportedly the fifth richest person in that country. He explained to the television viewers of the world, from London, that responsibility for dealing with this crisis had been delegated to others, hence his freedom to travel overseas to socialise, network and discuss world affairs. But a major crisis also creates massive uncertainty and, especially, a vacuum of authority.

The consequence of this in Pakistan’s case is a reluctance by other countries to provide sufficient aid lest that vacuum is exploited by the Taliban and their surrogates.

Could Pakistan’s Ambassador to Ireland, Mrs Naghmana Hashmi, offer the Irish public any assurance that aid from Irish sources is used exclusively for the purposes intended by the donors and that it will never empower and enrich those with the potential capacity and ruthless ambition to destabilise Pakistan and wreak lethal havoc elsewhere?

Perhaps it is simply not possible to provide such as assurance but a comment, at the very least, would offer a perspective.

Secondly, could she explain how President Zadari has directly engaged with his beleaguered people since he returned from his pomp-filled trip to France and England and, in particular, how much of his personal wealth he has already donated to alleviate their distress, hopelessness and desperation? A clear and tangible expression of his personal commitment and engagement could indicate that, if Pakistan is vulnerable to a vacuum of authority, this is recognised, mitigated and that civilian authority is robust, effective and respected. If there was an indication from her that donations from other very wealthy sources in Pakistan are generous, an awareness of that would also be helpful.

If Ambassador Hashmi were to ignore these issues the Irish people would be left in a state of unnecessary uncertainty when solicitation for funds to aid this wretched disaster are due to be made at masses throughout the country next Sunday.

Myles Duffy

Bellevue Ave

Glenageary

Co Dublin

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