Saturday, November 26, 2005

Earthquake politics

Another talk to give on Monday. Please add useful links in the comments section. I hope to structure the talk as follows:

1. The politics of giving: what is the current funding situation and why is it so dire?

2: The politics of doing:
(a) activity of jehadi groups
(b) involvement of India and prospects for improvement of Indo-Pakistan relations.

I'm posting some not-particularly-current but interesting things that I've come across.

On the involvement of jehadi groups, pieces from:
- openDemocracy (which, among other things, tells the disturbing story of a boy being rescued by Lashkar volunteers, who then took him away to their madrasa, claiming him as 'theirs' because his parents were dead);
- Newsweek (which also mentions Lashkar and the United Jihad Council);
- Guardian (which details the structure of some of these groups: Jamaat ud-Dawa as humanitarian organisation, but also fundraising and recruiting front for Lashkar; senior members of Lashkar 'have been linked to' al-Qaeda - what is the closest legal analogy to this sort of structure? franchising? or the setting up of 'offshore' subsidiaries, whilst trying to disguise links with holding company? I need a vocabulary to describe this that people will be familiar with.)

The last piece also quotes interior minister Aftab Khan Sherpao as describing the work of Jamaat and other Islamic groups as 'the lifeline of our rescue and relief work'. Given the pressing - and unmet - relief needs (which I will be outlining under heading 1), should one (and the Government of Pakistan specifically) be particular about who is providing the relief? And if these groups are seen as stepping into a governmental vacuum, what will this mean for the stability and legitimacy of state structures in Pakistan? Should the GoP be welcoming, or concerned by, the activities of these groups?

since pakistani voices have defacto credibility on the issue, here's a piece (albeit dated) by mahnaz ispahani (fellow at CFR)

she also thinks that islamist parties are poised to take 'advantage' of the situation, but notes (what most foreign observers tend not to do) that the private philanthrophy circles, and social service NGOS like the Edhi Foundation and the Aga Khan Network have also been instrumental in providing whatever (little) help they can ...

Dear S.
and oh, just as an example of private initiative:

i suppose what i am saying is that the actors, the options are not only the religious parties on the ground, or the military ... from what i've heard, this earthquake has aroused more patriotism, and sense of nationhood, amongst pakistanis than any other event (kashmir conflict included) ever before...

me again, and still dear :)
great! thanks.. could you talk about the patriotism stuff this evening? even if only briefly..

god, i'm nervous and hungry.
hope it went well; will you post a transcript or notes??

also it's a bit old, but here's a rushdie piece on why political calculations shouldn't play into the aid effort (but will nonetheless).
Muslim Brotherhood's success in Egyptian parliamentary elections is also a good parallel example of long(ish)-term effect of earthquake relief on political landscape. The Brotherhood reemerged in Egypt as a not-clandestine political actor only after the 1992 earthquake in Cairo. It provided immediate help, while the government didn't.

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