Pakistan: Bombs Not Bread

… to wade through slaughter … and shut the gates of mercy on mankind.

— Thomas Gray (1716-1771)

The scale of the disaster caused by the floods in Pakistan, is barely comprehensible. As Juan Cole has written, expressing near disbelief: “The submerged area of the country is as big as the United Kingdom, fourteen million Pakistanis are affected, two million are homeless.” Six million need immediate relief, according to the UN., and thirty six thousand are suffering from acute diarrhea symptoms, with cholera already diagnosed. 1,600 are reported dead, with the number certain to multiply. Famine is a real possibility.

The great Indus river, one of the world’s longest, which flows also through China, India and Kashmir, rising in Tibet and flowing in to the Arabian Sea, has flooded Sindh and Balochistan provinces, forcing the evacuation of over ninety percent of the villages. With no place to hide, people watched their homes washed away, in a monsoon season that continues through September. Hundreds of villages are inundated or completely under water, with roads, rail links, thus transportation cut, as frantic people try to flee to safer ground. It is the worst flooding in the country’s history, with some experts saying the region worst affected for nearly one hundred years. A far wider area is now threatened.

When the waters subside, the million-plus people who are directly or indirectly dependent on the mangroves, will have had their livelihood affected or erased, as will the fishermen along this great expanse.

Looking at US news sites, the enormity of this tragedy has evoked not pity, but almost universal vindictiveness. One with over 19,000 comments [Over 19,000!? The comments date from March 2010 before the floods. See “Yahoo and AP Caught Manipulating User Comments” for comment manipulation by Yahoo and also germane: “Yahoo Spreads Hate Speech to Main Street” — Ed] are typified by: “Pray for more rain”; “Uncle Sam, I need your help again!!! …”; “Doesn’t it just pull at your heartstrings that Dear Ol’ Uncle Sam wants to help out the enemy-“; “Ha, God truly works in mysterious ways … forsaken by their false prophet”; “What did it cost to deploy this missle to kill a measly 12 people? Not good use of our tax dollars! Get a bigger missle,12,000 would be better!” are, sickeningly, a few of the milder ones, addressed to a River Valley civilization which dates to about 3,300 BC., with tools found, used fifteen thousand years ago.

Saturday 14th August, is Pakistan’s Independence Day, celebrated annually since 1947. Flags and flowers, traditionally decorate all, homes, roofs, vehicles. This year celebrations were muted to sombre, devastation and death dominated. Prayers for both replaced festivity. The army cancelled their celebrations and donated the funds allocated for their day’s events to the flood victims.

President Obama in a message for Independence Day, pledged U.S. support: “… in line with deepening partnership between the two nations,” praising the Pakistani people “… as they bravely respond to widespread and unprecedented flooding.” He ended: “I have directed my Administration to continue to work closely with the Government of Pakistan and provide assistance in their response to this crisis.”

Pakistan has requested helicopters from this US “partner,” close by in Afghanistan. However, “A senior U.S. military official said transfer of additional helicopters, which are in short supply in Afghanistan, would require a political decision in Washington. ‘Do they exist in the region? Yes’, he said. ‘Are they available? No,'” writes Robert Naiman.

What was available, on Pakistan’s National Day, and the third day of the holy month of Ramadan, were US drones. A US missile strike on (as ever) a “militant” compound on the Afghan border, killing thirteen “rebels” and wounding five others on Saturday, in the village of Eisori, in North Pakistan, is widely reported. Wait for the bodies of the militant children, women, teenagers. It is still confusing to know how these “militants” are recognised from the air, from a computer in the US, given so many have turned out to be families having a meal, tending their land, or mince-meated infants. What happened to Courts of Law?

Unmanned drones, decimating lives since 2004 in the US’s “deepening partnership” country, operated by those who have graduated from computer games to war games, with real human targets, has to be one of life’s more memorable, bizarre, cowardly, illegal obscenities. Some “partnership.”

The good news or the bad?

A shipload of U.S. Marines and helicopters did arrive to boost relief efforts in flooded Pakistan on Thursday (12th August.) However, given the number of US Special Services alleged to have been at sites of bombings in Pakistan, from schools to communal compounds, the cynic might wonder whether this is in spirit of co-operation and “partnership” or an eye to the main chance.

And the US has a bit of form when it comes to Ramadan missiles. In Ramadan in Iraq, the US military signed their missiles with: “Have a nice Ramadan, Saddam.”

UN Secretary General, Ban, has finally limped in to Pakistan, saying not a lot. The Taliban have offered, allegedly, twenty million dollars in aid if Pakistan rejects US aid (given US form, they could possibly be on to something — further once in the US they have a tendency to stay) and President Obama and his family are swimming in Florida to promote tourism in BP infested waters.

One commentator reached a US news site, and compared poor Michelle Obama to Marie Antoinette. A long way from: “Change we can believe in.”

Nearly five hundred years ago, William Shakespeare put it well : “… perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame; savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust.”

Funny world.

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger's Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) Read other articles by Felicity.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. mary said on August 17th, 2010 at 8:35am #

    I said this here yesterday on another thread and now the article is here. Thanks.

    About another country in the region and where the majority have brown skin and brown eyes and who are Muslim and about our lack of compassion for those people.
    “Humanitarian Warfare” in Pakistan: Bombs not Bread.
    The scale of the disaster caused by the floods is barely comprehensible

    Written by someone who has compassion and who cares for her fellow brothers and sisters and their children, of whom 3 million are now at enormous risk of dying from waterborne disease.

    Note the Islamophobic reactions that are quoted.

  2. lichen said on August 17th, 2010 at 3:28pm #

    I’m afraid this is a snapshot of the future–natural disasters will come to already impoverished places of the world, and they will be left to drown–neither the governments responsible nor the world community will respond except to exploit the disasters for profit. We’ve seen it in New Orleans, Haiti, the Asian tsunami…the same people who refuse to take any action to stop global warming will also not make any real attempt to ease human suffering in the collapse of civilization it will cause.

  3. mary said on August 18th, 2010 at 3:15am #

    Yes Lichen and it is bombs from Obomber and not bread, nor water purifying tablets, nor food, nor clothing, nor anything that will help these poor people to survive …………

    From MediaLens

    US Continues Drone Strikes in Pakistan Despite Floods
    Posted by MikeD on August 17, 2010, 4:08 pm

    words fail me

    US Continues Drone Strikes in Pakistan Despite Floods

    While Pakistan is struggling to deal with the massive floods, the United States is continuing to carry out drone strikes in northwest Pakistan. The BBC reports at least thirty-five people died over the weekend in four separate drone strikes.
    Re: US Continues Drone Strikes in Pakistan Despite Floods
    Posted by MikeD on August 17, 2010, 4:24 pm, in reply to “US Continues Drone Strikes in Pakistan Despite Floods”

    Couldn’t believe it so looked – but eventually found it buried after searching pakistan on page 2 or 3 – appeared – not that I noticed on 14th Aug
    Murder takes priority
    Posted by Kebz on August 17, 2010, 7:48 pm, in reply to “Re: US Continues Drone Strikes in Pakistan Despite Floods”

    The BBC seem to have a standard template report for these extrajudicial murders, which they use each time. Most of this particular report has been lifted from previous ones. The only change is the floods bit and that it refers to current deaths.

    Can anyone update me on the US contribution to the Pakistan flood fund? A few days ago, it stood at a measly £7 million ;less than the cost of a few their missiles and they have used thousands of missiles. It seems that killing is a much bigger priority than saving lives although I note that they do have some helicoptors assisting the Pakistani army in the aid effort albeit for PR purposes.

  4. Rehmat said on August 18th, 2010 at 3:39am #

    Practically, the Indus River begins near Pakistani city of Multan. The five rivers which drain into Indus River are – Ravi, Sutlej, Chenab, Jehlem and the Kabul River. the first rivers originate from Pakistan’s hostile neighbor India through the disputed state of Kashmir.

    The western indifference to Pakistan is rooted in India-Israel enemity towards Pakistani people, who resist their successive governments’ love-affair with the US, Israel and India – based on their past experience with those three countries.

    Ben Gurion always considered Pakistan as sovereign state and its nuclear program as grave threat to the very existance of Israel. Israel is suspected of being involved in the assassinations of Pakistan’s first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s military dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Israel also played the part in Mumbai and several other false flag terrorist operations which were pinned on Pakistan. Pakistan Army found conclusive proof of US-Israel-India training and arming the Al-Qaeda insurgents in Swat Valley……

  5. Shashank said on August 18th, 2010 at 6:02am #

    Why to blame India everytime. Your country do not able to control floods and not able to provide relief to people is India’s fault?
    You say that flood are caused by India then how come there are no flooding in Indian side. Accept that its a natural disaster. Its easy to blame someone else for our problem. Stop blaming India for everything that happens to your country.
    Comment about terrorist the funniest one. You people are such a liars.Big fat liars. Why don’t you concentrate on development of your coutry? But no. You always want to fight with India. What gains you get by that i do not know.
    You are suffering from terrorism because of your policies and now Islamic terrorist are teaching a hard lesson to you.

  6. shabnam said on August 18th, 2010 at 8:08am #


    The zionist trolls have chosen another mechanism to spread their lies at this site. They are adapting ‘similar looking names’ with those posters who are anti Zionism to confuse the readers. “Shashank” is one of these names, sounds “Israeli” and her/his comments fits withing zionist hasbara coming from the ZIONIST TROLLS. Please Don’t confuse “shabnam” with “Shashank”

    {If you have ever visited a blog or on-line discussion group on the Middle East you have doubtless had the misfortune to run into them.
    They are known by the language they use: depraved sexual insults, bile, bigotry, threats, disinformation and character assassination. That’s right: I’m talking about “hasbarats,” zionist trolls who infect the Internet with hasbara, pro-Israel propaganda. Of course, mainstream media hasbarats have been around for decades, as have “hasbaratchiks,” fifth-columns in foreign governments who subvert national policies to serve Israel. The Internet, though, is the latest, some might say the greatest, propaganda playground, and Israel cannot cope with factual, passionate, well-documented stories that expose its war crimes and unrepentant criminality.}

  7. Shashank said on August 19th, 2010 at 6:48am #


    Why are you lying yaar. Israel is quite famous in Pakistan i think.
    What a rubbish zionist troll??
    You pakistanis always lie about evrything. Europeans don’t understand your double game/ Its pity.
    I found this site by accident.
    Tumachya pakistanyanmadhe lai kide val val kartat(In marathi)
    You pakistanis are such a liars apreading wrong information about everyhing. That rehmat guy also spreadin lies about everything. Pakistani people and govt should concentrate on their development instead of spreading terrorism in this world.
    You people are extremist and nothing else. You are good at spreading lies, and good at that. I observed one thing you have good planning how to spread lies while ignoring truth. What you people done in Afghanistan using Taliban unrepentant criminality. Its very funny that you people do violence by one hand and try to teach peace on other hand.
    By the way I am not from Israel but from India. Shashank is marathi name. I am not writing from enemy point of view. Instead i want to see India and Pakistan to be friend and devlop in this world as a one. But for that a greater visionary from Pakistan side required.