I’ll go ahead and admit that I don’t get warm and tingly inside when I think of Pakistan. I sometimes think it might be interesting to visit, but the very real threat of being kidnapped or worse usually stops my interest cold. Aside from being the purported safe haven for Al-Qaeda, Pakistan is a volatile place in general. While it isn’t as restrictive as Saudi Arabia or its neighbor to the the west, Afghanistan, the mistreatment and control of women are pretty much in lockstep with how its conservative neighbors treat them.
Some would argue that Pakistan’s extreme adherence to Islam is the primary factor. It has given rise to patriarchy and intolerance, in much the same way many people think Christianity does in the West, but worse. Pakistani women have to be covered when they go out in public, and cannot associate with men they’re not related to. Education is new for Pakistani women, having only been introduced in the mid-twentieth century. Women could take classes such as “Sewing For A Family Of Twelve”, or “Cooking For A Family Of Twelve”. It’s since gotten better, but not by much. Women working outside the home comprise less than twenty percent of Pakistan’s workforce. Females in politics are almost unheard of, and the ones who do participate in politics professionally can face some pretty dire consequences. Case in point: Benazir Bhutto. She was probably the country’s brightest hope for legitimacy and prosperity. Educated in the United States, she had a particular vision for Pakistan’s future that could have changed it for the better, but it was never realized. A terrorist group shot and killed her and several members in her motorcade in December 2007, after months of trying to assassinate her. The irony is that she would have been welcome here, but wanted to improve her homeland. I wonder how long Pakistan will have to wait until another revolutionary comes along. My guess is that it won’t happen, not under the current circumstances, anyway.
I didn’t start this entry to deride the shortcomings of Pakistani culture and politics, but rather to encourage my loyal readers to donate money to the survivors of the Pakistan floods. Approximately eight million people are now homeless, and twenty million have been affected by it in some way altogether. The American Red Cross has only raised two million dollars in the month since the flood, and while it can’t be compared to the sum totals of the aid it received for survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, or Hurricane Katrina, it’s a safe bet that it had raised tens of millions of dollars by the one-month mark. InterAction, another American aid group, has raised only twelve million.
Obviously, Americans’ negative perceptions of Pakistan are inhibiting their will to donate money, but they must keep in mind that the majority of the Pakistani people are in fact people, and presently, victims of a massive natural disaster. If you can, please donate something to help the Pakistani people get back on their feet.
American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org
UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees): http://blogs.state.gov/ap/index.php/site/entry/text_swat_to_50555_pakistani_flood_victims
International Rescue Committee: http://www.theirc.org/special-reports/special-report-pakistan