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Islamists fill aid vacuum while government struggles

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-08-05

Islamists linked to the Pakistani Taliban are working hard to provide aid to their countrymen stricken by last week’s devastating flooding, filling a vacuum left by government authorities.

Islamists in Pakistan have been quick to respond to the deadly flooding that has killed more than 1,500 people and affected the lives of more than three million people.

With vast areas of farmland washed away and villages devasted, fears are growing of a food crisis and outbreak of an epidemic.

Flood victims have been critical of the the Pakistani authorities for not doing enough.

Meanwhile Islamist charities, including some linked to the Pakistani Taliban, have started pouring in aid, as they did after a 2005 earthquake in Kashmir killed 75,000 people.

Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamic fundamentalist group and Pakistan's oldest religious party, is at the forefront.

However, the group denies it is here to push any political agenda.

Spokesman Fazal Mebood told FRANCE 24: "Have you seen any government officials? There is no one from the government here.

“The only ones who are providing help are our Muslim brothers. We are not here for political reasons, we are simply here to provide help.”

Whatever the group’s motives, the result has been a successful and very visible PR coup.

Villager Ahmad Ali said: “We would like the government to help us, give us food, but we are grateful to the Jamaat-e-Islami for providing aid.

“If one day they need our help in turn, we would be ready to sacrifice ourselves for them.”
 

Date created : 2010-08-05

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