US pouring aid to Pak, but Americans not contributing much

Americans` response to Pak relief operations has been far below expectations.

Updated: Aug 12, 2010, 12:14 PM IST

Washington: Though the US government is pouring millions of dollars in aid to help people affected in the Pakistan`s worst-ever floods, Americans, who are known for their generosity, look reluctant to contribute to the cause.

The Obama administration is making every effort to prove the point to Pakistanis that the US is their "best friend" in their hour of crisis, but the same is not the case with the citizens.

Nearly a week after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked fellow citizens to donate USD 10 each for the relief of the flood victims -- now numbering 14 million, only a little over USD 12,000 has been raised.

This means, only 1,200 people in the US have so far made a personal contribution of USD 10 by using their mobile phones.

This is in sharp contrast to Americans` contribution to victims of the Haiti earthquake. They raised millions in just a few days by the same process. Americans had done the same during the 2004 Tsunami.

But the US administration has announced USD 71.25 million for relief work in Pakistan and officials have indicated that more US aid is forthcoming and could soon touch the USD 1 billion mark.

White House officials said President Barack Obama is taking personal interest in relief work in Pakistan.

"He is being briefed every day and had directed the US government to work with Pakistani authorities and the international community to provide an appropriate response," the official said.

Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke in an interview to the Council on Foreign Relations website acknowledged that the response from the American people this time with regard to the relief operations on Pakistan has been far below expectations.

"The American people should recognise that this situation is affecting, already, over 14 million people," Holbrooke said.

"Americans have been very focused on other, equally heart-wrenching, issues, like Haiti. I hope they will turn their attention as well to this extraordinary crisis that Pakistan is facing," he said.

Holbrooke also said that the international recognition of this disaster has not yet been sufficient to its dimensions.

"That is because floods, unlike earthquakes and tsunamis, are not sudden catastrophes that hit and then the reconstruction begins. They`re rolling crises, which grow and are initially underestimated, and that is what has happened in Pakistan," he said.

State Department spokesman PJ Crowley hoped that there would be appropriate response from the US public in the coming days.

"Eventually over months, the private appeals through the texting programs got to more than USD 30 million for Haiti. We would hope to see an appropriate public reaction and public support for the people of Pakistan, and we will continue to make this as visible as possible," Crowley said.