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The Battle for Kashmir

80,000 dead; 8,000 disappeared. Peter Lee reports and lays out the strange saga of the Shivalingam of Amarnath. “Food security”… “sustainable agriculture”…”slow food”… “food sovereignty.” R.G. Davis separates the real from the phony in the world of organic food. Meet the women trying to reform America’s insane sex offender laws.  JoAnn Wypijewski describes their struggle. Click here to make a donation. If you find our site useful please: Subscribe Now! CounterPunch books and t-shirts make great presents.

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Today's Stories

August 31, 2010

Patrick Cockburn
What is the US Legacy in Iraq?

James Abourezk
Give Me That Old Time Racism

August 30, 2010

Laura Carlsen
Drug War on the Poor

Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Race to the Bottom: Putting the Brakes on Neoliberal Economics

Dean Baker
A Pointless Waste of Money

Ishmael Reed
Watermill at Gdansk

Russell Mokhiber
How Factory Farms Make You Sick

Ralph Nader
Knowing and Doing

Neve Gordon
An Assault on Israeli Academic Freedom

Ramzy Baroud
Rebranding Iraq

Damien Millet, Sophie Perchellet and Eric Toussaint
Pakistan: Floods and Debt

Ben Pleasants
My Hawai'i: Driving Lessons on the Big Island

Website of the Day
"Hang the Tree-Hugging Bastards!"

August 27-29, 2010

Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch Diary
Thank you, Glenn Beck!

Paul Craig Roberts
The Nazification of the United States

Tariq Ali
Floods for Pakistan; Floods of Money for its Leader

Rannie Amiri
The Stalled Voyage of St. Mariam

Mike Whitney
The GOP's Midterm Strategy: Make Sure Obama Fails

Missy Comley Beattie
The Terrorists Have Won

Edward Lewis
Interviewing Michael Neumann

Shamir and Bennett
Assange: The Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land

Tom Mountain
The Pirates of Puntland: A Tale of Somali Pirates, Ethiopia and the USA

P. Sainath
How Maharashtra Ended Famine

Benjamin Dangl
Pachamama and Progress: Conflicting Visions for Latin America's Future

David Macaray
A Union Fights for its Economic Life

Christopher Brauchli
The Petulant Prince of Blackwater

Jon Mitchell
Postcard from... Futenma

Julia Nissen
Birthright Citizenship, "Anchor Babies" and the 14th Amendment

Charles R. Larson
The Garbage of War Elias Khoury's White Masks

David Yearsley
On the Road to Skaneateles

Website of the Day


August 26, 2010

Dean Baker
The Odious Alan Simpson

Gregory Harms
It's Not About Religion

Yves Engler
Privatizing the Occupaton: the Mercenaries and the NGOs

George Wuerthner
Of Wolves and Welfare Ranchers

Saul Landau
Death and Taxes

Laura Carlsen
Uribe's Parting Shot

Billy Wharton
Badgers, Buses and Trains: Why We Need a National Rail System

Ron Jacobs
Feminism Makes Another Curtain Call?

Dante Castro Arrasco
The Persecution of Lori Berenson

John Grant
The Curse of the Muslim Seed

Website of the Day
Sorry Friend

August 25, 2010

Dedrick Muhammad
Glenn Beck's March on Washington
"Palin and I will Fulfill King's Dream"

Stewart Lawrence
The Mosque and the Muslim Vote

Mike Whitney
The Housing Holocaust

Judith Bello
Hitchens: Bomb Iran Now

Michael Marqusee
Swaziland's $200 Million Dollar Despot

John Ross
The Barrenderos of Mexico City

Ben Hillier
Huge Electoral Surge for Australia's Greens, but is Sell-Out Close Behind?

Jeff Taylor
A Little Book with a Big Plan

August 23 / 24, 2010

Anne McClintock
CP Special Report: Slow Violence in the Gulf and the BP Coverups

Mike Whitney
Recovery Summer Hits the Rocks

Gareth Porter
An Army of Contractors

Wajahat Ali
The Muslim Obama

Martha Rosenberg
The Man Behind the Egg Scandal

Dean Baker
Fannie and Freddie: Live Public or Die

Jonathan Cook
Smuggling Palestinians

John V. Whitbeck Direct Negotiations: Consequences for Failure?

Stanley Heller
How Would You Spend a Trillion Dollars?

Anthony DiMaggio
A Culture of Corruption

Ralph Nader
The Political Microcosm of Bell, CA

Patrick Bond
The Great Rift in South Africa

Peter Gelderloos
The Decline of Resistance from the Red Scare to the War on Terror

John V. Walsh Countdown to Zero or War on Iran?

Website of the Day
Round Houses

August 20 - 22, 2010

Alexander Cockburn
This is What Success Looks Like

Linn Washington, Jr.
The Lady Who Cried "Nigger!"

Mike Whitney
The Economy is in Big Trouble

Gary Leupp
Hurt Feelings and the Ground Zero Mosque: a Chronology of a Bizarre Controversy

Dean Baker
Whacking the Middle Class

Rannie Amiri
Lebanon Braces for a Turbulent Fall

Jeffrey St. Clair
Paradoxical River: Down the Hanford Reach (Part 3)

Marshall Auerback
The Myth of "Credibility Markets"

Ron Jacobs
Midnight on the Flotilla

Ramzy Baroud
Trapped at Ground Zero

Christopher Brauchli
The Case of Omar Khadr

Elizabeth Streb
How to Become an Extreme Action Hero

Joshua Frank
Mean Gov. Dean: Democratic Hypocrisy on the Mosque

Jonathan Cook
The Secrets in Israel's Archives

Tom Sauer
Pie in the Sky: the Persistence of Missile Defense

David Macaray
Eat Pray Love Strike

Rev. William E. Alberts
Camouflage on the Home Front

Missy Beattie
A Kind of Barbarism

Lawrence Davidson
Eden's Photoshoot: a Case of Decency Deficit

Mark Weisbrot
Lugar's Strategic Leak

Margaret Kimberley
Israel, Big Money and Obama

David Rosen
The Tyranny of False Consciousness

Wajahat Ali
The Power of Storytelling

Julie Hilden
The Facebook Defamation Case

Phil Rockstroh
The Deus ex Machina Presidency: a Fantasy

Marjorie Cohn
California, Human Rights and the UN

Charles R. Larson
Sweden's Sexual Dystopia

Paul Krassner
The Secret Murder of Ruben Salazar

David Yearsley
The Smells and Sounds of Coco and Igor

Poets' Basement
O'Hayer, Orloski and Davies

August 19, 2010

Danny Glover /
Saul Landau
Visiting Gerardo

Ellen Brown
A Homeowners' Rebellion

Neve Gordon
Israeli Loyalty Oaths

Martha Rosenberg
Elizabeth Gilbert's Strange Spiritual Journey

Dave Lindorff
The Mosque Saga

Michael Nagler
Afghanistan and the Future of the Empire

Dr. Susan Block
Our Promiscuous Prehistory

Anthony Papa
The End of Prison-Based Gerrymandering in New York

Website of the Day
What Lurks at the Margins for Indigenous People


August 18, 2010

Vicente Navarro
On Soccer and Bullfighting

Paul Craig Roberts
Deceptive Economic Statistics

Alan Nasser
The Neoliberal Attack on Social Security

Anthony DiMaggio
Democrats Go GOP on Tax Cuts

Mike Whitney
Why Iran's Jews are Better Off Than Gaza's Palestinians

Shamus Cooke
A Permanent Housing Collapse?

Farzana Versey
The Israeli Images

Franklin Lamb
A 15-Minute Sop for Refugees

Sheldon Richman
The Ugly Truth

Tom Thompson
We Need NASCAR for Politicians

Song of the Day
Jump You Fu-kers!: a Ballad for Wall Street

August 17, 2010

Michael Yates
Lock 'Em Up

Joe Bageant
Honk If You Love Caviar!

Greg Moses
"While Everyone Else Went to College, I Went to Jail:" a Conversation with Saad Nabeel

George Bisharat /
Nimer Sultany

Second-Class Citizens

Dean Baker
Bernanke's Paralysis

Lawrence S. Wittner
America's Runaway Military Spending: How Much is Enough?

Marshall Auerback
Which Party Poses the Real Risk to Social Security's Future?

Jonathan Cook
Racist Universities?

Patrick Bond
Is Africa Still Being Looted? Let Us Count the Ways

Adam Turl
Homeless and Hungry at College

Website of the Day
All About Newt

August 16, 2010

Jeff Halper
The Message of the Bulldozers

Esam Al-Amin
Who Killed Hariri?

Franklin C. Spinney
How the Defense Industry is Hosing Obama and the Taxpayer ... Again

Paul Craig Roberts
The Ecstasy of Empire

Ralph Nader
Hopes Dimming

Joe Mowrey
The Wages of Compromise

Mark Weisbrot
Failing Haiti

Jayne Lyn Stahl
Petraeus Speaks

Lawrence Reichard
US Embraces Honduran Thugocracy

David Michael Green
Losing It at the White House

Website of the Day
The US War in Yemen

August 13 - 15, 2010

Alexander Cockburn
America Enters a New Time

Kevin Alexander Gray
Shooting Cans: the Racist Assault on the 14th Amendment

John Ross
The Case of the Mysterious Disappearers

Gareth Porter
Top Israeli Generals and Intel Officials Oppose Striking Iran

Ray McGovern
Shilling for War on Iran

Ramzy Baroud
Life in Bourj el-Barajneh

Anthony DiMaggio
Flotilla Violence Expected

Saul Landau
A Cuban Adventure With Lee Lockwood

Mark Engler
The Gulf at the Gas Station

Steve Conn
Uncle Ted is Dead: Sen. Stevens and the Exploitation of Alaska

David Rosen
Know-Nothings of 2010

John Grant
Bradley Manning and the Secret World

Nathaniel Wolfson
Covering Palestine

Margaret Kimberley
America on the Precipice

Yves Engler
Occupation by NGO

Jeffrey Ballinger
REI Members Rise Up!

David Macaray
Do Union Members Make the Best Workers?

Jonathan Woodrow Martin
Sturdy Walls, Crumbling Job Market

Robert Alvarez
Chernobyl's Million Dead

Missy Beattie
Needing You

Christopher Brauchli
Glitch in the System

Scott Grzenczyk
Smearing the Judge

Betsy Ross
Airport Insecurity: a New Level of Creepiness

Shamus Cooke
Is Obama Playing With Nuclear Fire?

Sam Wellington
Freedom From Want

Pete Redington
Anarchy in the Soccer Stadium

Don Monkerud
Change Frustration

Laura Flanders
A Global War on Flooding?

Daniel Robelo
Mexico Considers Legalizing Drugs

Charles R. Larson
A Somalian Story

David Yearsley
Did John Adams Save the Day for Luca Guadagnino's "I Am Love"?

Stephen Martin
Naked Lunch of American Politics

August 12, 2010

Anthony DiMaggio
The Muslim Community Center at Ground Zero: a Manufactured Controversy

Paul Craig Roberts
The Big Things That Matter

Mike Whitney
Back in the Soup

Christian Christensen
Three Digital Myths

Stewart J. Lawrence
Latinos and Obama: Signs of Disaffection

Tariq Ali
It's No Secret: Pakistan and the Taliban

Lawrence Davidson
Omar Khadr, Bradley Manning and Our National Psyche

Binoy Kampmark
The Affair of the Diamonds: Naomi Campbell's Flirtation with Charles Taylor

Website of the Day
R. Crumb: My Weirdest Trip

August 11, 2010

Maximillian C. Forte
A War on Wikileaks?

Barbara Rose Johnston
From Hiroshima to Fallujah: Nuclear News, Nuclear Fears and the Role of Science

Jonathan Cook
The US Arms Bonanza in the Middle East

Winslow T. Wheeler
Talking With Gates About the Defense Budget

Dean Baker
Economists Without a Clue

David Macaray
Disenfranchisement as Political Repression

Sheldon Richman
What They are Still Doing in Our Name

Sam Smith
Why Liberals Deserve to Lose

Rob Stone, MD
Progressives and Conservatives Agree: Single-Payer is Inevitable

Laura Flanders
Charity or Philanthro-Fuedalism?

Website of the Day
Obama's Cat Food Commission

August 10, 2010

Gareth Porter
Serial Denial on Iraq and Afghanistan

Uri Avnery
Olmert and the Jackals

Mike Whitney
Kill Hugo?

Linh Dinh
Wordless Masses: Camden's Shuttered Libraries

Mark Weisbrot
Hungary Defies IMF and European Authorities

Linn Washington
Weed Weirdness: Californian Pot Measure Creates Strange Alliances

Clare Bayard
Soldiers Expose Deployment of Unprepared Troops

Billy Wharton
The Rite Aid Scandal: Health Records Still Treated as Commodities

John V. Walsh
Fighting Back Against ObamaCare

Michael Barker
Three Cups of Tea for Imperialism!

August 9, 2010

Mark Schuller
Is Haiti Falling Through the Cracks? A Walk Inside the Camps

Stan Cox
Why People Get Hot Under the Collar About Air Conditioning

Greg Moses
The Story of a Deported Texas Student Awaits Obama in Dallas

Jonathan Cook
"Major George" and Israel's Abu Ghraib

Arno J. Mayer
Nuclear Carriers on the Move

Ron Jacobs
Blood on Our Hands?

David Michael Green
What is to be Done?

Jayne Lyn Stahl
Spike Lee Fans at the Pentagon?

James Rothenberg
Hush Money Generation

John Grant
American Stupidity

Website of the Day
What a Collapsing Empire Looks Like

August 6 - 8, 2010

Alexander Cockburn
Marriage's Fiercest Defenders

Patrick Cockburn
Welcome to Lebanon: Graveyard of the Arrogant

Bill Quigley,
Davida Finger and Lance Hill
Katrina Pain Index 2010

William Blum
Bombing Iran

Samuel Leff
The Green Berets as an Armed Peace Corps?

Jeffrey St. Clair
Paradoxical River: Down the Hanford Reach (Part Two)

Ralph Nader
The Spectulator's Rebate

Bill Hatch
Rodeo, Then and Now: Broncs, Boots and Boobs

David Yearsley
How BP Harnesses Music to Its Message

Saul Landau /
Nelson Valdes

Gross Media Negligence on Cuba

Sherwood Ross
Bernie Madoff and the Watchdog That Didn't Bite

John Ross
Starving for Justice

Conn Hallinan
The US and Yemen: a Lethal Blend

P. Sainath
India's "Paid News" Scandal: Blotted Out by Press Lords

Wayne Clark
Hyping Hawks and Circling Vultures

Jonathan Cook
The Destruction of a Negev Village

Margaret Kimberley
White Citizenship

Linh Dinh
House Slave Syndrome

Ramzy Baroud
Smoke on a Bridge

Ellen Brown
Escaping the Sovereign Debt Trap

David Rosen
Blood on the Floor: the Recession and Workplace Violence

Lawrence Davidson
Flattening the Bedouin Village of al-Arakib

Norman Solomon
Nuclear U: the University of California and the Nuclear Weapons Business

Gatien Elie,
Allan Popelard and Paul Vannier

France's New Rural Ghettos

Tom Genrich / Michele Parry
Back to the Land in France: Settler's By Choice

Dave Lindorff
A Whistleblower Bounty on Corporate Crime

Missy Beattie
Woe: the Politics of Exploitation

Rannie Amiri
Questions for an Ahmadinejad / Obama Debate

Charles R. Larson
Namibia's Brutal History

Niranjan Ramakrishnan
Tigers ... or Copycats?

Laura Flanders
Recovery for the Rich

Andrew Ford Lyons
Playing Soccer in Gaza

Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Wilhelm Reich and the Tea Party

Cpt. Paul Watson
The Rainbow Fades

Christopher Brauchli
Whacky Politics

Phil Rockstroh
A Götterdäm-merung of Kitsch

Barry Crimmins
Follow-Up Call

Benjamin Dangl
A History of Monstrous Mexico City

Finley Peter Dunne
Mr. Dooley on the Charity of the Very Rich

Poets' Basement
Three by DJ Moser

Website of the Weekend
"I Don't Like Liberals"

August 5, 2010

Mike Whitney
An Avoidable Depression

William Blum
Tell Me Again: What's the War About?

Daniel Kovalik
Venezuela and Labor: the Big Lie

Russell Mokhiber
America's Solitary Nightmare

Patrick Bond
South Africa Loses Its War on Poverty

David Macaray
The Police Need to Step Up

Ashley Smith
Haiti's Colonial Overlord

Susan Galleymore
Rationalizing the Bombing of Hiroshima

Website of the Day
Gavin's Sludge

August 4, 2010

Carl Ginsburg
Buffett, Gates, Rockefeller and the Conscience of the Very, Very Rich

Ron Jacobs
Afghanistan: a War Correspondent's Viewpoint

Mike Whitney
Looming Changes at the Fed

William P. O’Connor
Salt in the Wounds

Nick Dearden
Toxic Debts: Why Should Pakistan Trust Us?

Gareth Porter
Obama Junks 2008 "Troops Out" Pledge

Jeffery R. Webber
Uribe's Parting Shot

Doug Giebel
Flip-Flops and Failures

Deepak Adhikari
Postcard From Nepal

Adam Turl
A Progressive Alternative in Illinois

Wildlife Photoshoot of the Day
Palin's Momma Grizzlies


August 3, 2010

Bill Quigley
Why We Sued to Represent Anwar Aulaqi

Dean Baker
Double Dip Recessions

Mike Roselle
The Battle for Coal River Mountain

Don Duncan
Shooting Back: Young Palestinians With Cameras

Anthony DiMaggio
Operation Infinite Occupation

Martha Rosenberg
Why are US Troops Killing Themselves?

Clarence Lusane
Racism, Shirley Sherrod and the Obama White House

Franklin Lamb
America's Dog in Lebanese Fight

Conn Hallinan
Behind the Colombia / Venezuela Tensions

John Grant
Murder Inc. in Afghanistan

Website of the Day

August 2, 2010

Darwin Bond-Graham
Women of the Storm (and the Men Who Love Them)

Maximillian C. Forte
The Wikileaks Afghan War Diary: Reasons for Celebration, Causes for Concern

Ralph Nader
Obama's Afghan Formula: Peace Through War

Jonathan Cook
Israeli Rabbi Preaches "Slaughter" of Gentile Babies

Ron Wilkins
The Other Side of Shirley Sherrod

David Macaray
Those Guatamalan Pay Scales

Linh Dinh
Rotting Fish: Congress, Goldman Sachs and the First Responders

Steven Higgs
The First Autistic Kid at School: the Story of Travis Roach

David Michael Green
A Bottomless Well of Greed

Gail Dines
The Stepford Sluts: the Return of "Mad Men"

Website of the Day
It's All Happening in Olympia!

July 30 - August 1, 2010

Alexander Cockburn
Do Disclosures of Atrocities Change Anything?

Paul Craig Roberts
Let Them Eat Cake

Gareth Porter
Bomb Iran? Neocon Nutballs Ramp Up Campaign

Patrick Cockburn
Getting Out of Afghanistan

Linn Washington
Racism in the Federal Government

Jeffrey St. Clair
Paradoxical River: Down the Hanford Reach

Anthony DiMaggio
Iran Under Siege

Chase Madar
Torturing the Rule of Law at Obama's Gitmo

Bill Kauffman
Wherein We Meet Genial Radicals by the Shores of Lake Champlain

Stewart J. Lawrence
Enjoining Arizona: Why the Battle Isn't Over

John Ross
Lovefest in the Zocalo

Joanne Mariner
Forced Returns From Guantanamo: Repatriated to Torture?

John Weisheit
Strip Mining Canyon Country

Saul Landau
The Alan Gross Case

Allan J. Lichtman
Comic Strip Politics

Margaret Kimberley
Shirley Sherrod's Righteous Anger

Russell Mokhiber
Don Blankenship Hates the Police

Rannie Amiri
The Existential Threat Facing Lebanon Today

Fred Gardner
Smoking Pot Does Not Cause Lung Cancer

Jeff Ballinger
The Day FIFA Lost Its Soul

Ramzy Baroud
Why Muslims Should Rethink Palestine

Steve Roest
Toxic Whales

Christopher Brauchli
The Return of Tancredo

Sheldon Richman
Trashing the Fourth Amendment

Missy Beattie
Devil's Food Cake

Don Monkerud
A Tea Party Fairy Tale

Mitu Sengupta
The Price of Being World Class

Mark Weisbrot
Colombia-Venezuela Dispute Will be Better Resolved in South America

Eric Walberg
Russia, Afghanistan and Star Wars

Willie L. Pelote
Cut From the Top

Charles R. Larson
The Last Woman on Earth

Kim Nicolini
Class Bonding and Man-Children in LA

David Yearsley
Christian Bach's Castrato Arias

Poets' Basement
Hays, Halle and Ford

July 29, 2010

Mike Whitney
Trillions for Wall Street

Jordan Flaherty Rogue State: a Movement Rises in Arizona

Dave Lindorff
National Insecurity Complex

Ron Jacobs
The Story of Evo Morales

Mark Weisbrot
Jobs, Stimulus and Debt

Conn Haliinan
The Great Myth of Counter-Insurgency

Sheldon Richman
Government Has Run Amok Since 9/11

Brian M. Downing
Rising Tensions in the Persian Gulf

Website of the Day
An Interview with Julian Assange

July 28, 2010

Paul Craig Roberts
US Treasury is Running on Fumes

Gregory Elich
The Sinking of the Cheonan and Its Political Uses

Bruce McEwen
The Great Marijuana Boom

Jonathan Cook
Shin Bet Exposed

David Macaray
Taft-Hartley Revisited

Jeanine Molloff
The Predatory Nature of Home Loan Modifications

Barry Crimmins Sickened Ire: a Visit to St. Moneychanger's Hospital

Linn Washington
Another Reverse Racism Scam

John Grant
Letter to an American Hero: PFC Bradley Manning

Anthony Papa
Is Cameron Douglas' Life in Danger?

Website of the Day
Animal Cruelty But One CAFO Crime


July 27, 2010

Gareth Porter
The Afghan War Springs a Leak

Mike Whitney
A Decade of Declining Housing Prices

Chris Floyd
The Poor Must Die

Karl Grossman
Floating Chernobyls

Dean Baker
Blacking Out on the Economy

Marjorie Cohn
McCain on Iraq: "We Already Won That One"

Patrick Cockburn
Worse Than Hiroshima?

Steve Breyman
Afghanistan: the Inside Story

Heather Gray
How Shirley Sherrod Saved a White-Owned Farm in South Georgia

Randall Amster
Climate of Fear on the Border

Manuel Garcia, Jr
Dear Democrats, 2012

Website of the Day
BP and Academic Freedom



August 31, 2010

The Scale of the Disaster

Coping With the Flood


Four weeks on, the floods that descended on Pakistan’s north-west, have engulfed the entire length of the country.  All along the increasingly ferocious Indus, large chunks of land in southern Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan are submerged in water, destroying crops, homes and livestock, forcing the inhabitants of several villages to migrate to drier land.  These internally displaced persons (“IDPs”), refugees in a sense, are in urgent need of shelter, food, clean water and medical attention.

This is not the first time that Pakistan has had to provide for large numbers of refugees.  During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, in excess of three million Afghan refugees fled to Pakistan.  More recently, during the Swat offensive last summer, IDPs vacated their homes, moved in with relatives or took shelter in camps and tent cities while the army battled it out with the Taliban.  Yet Swat was different.  The numbers involved were small.  The area affected was geographically containable and the damage to private property bearable.

This time, 20 million people are affected by the floods.  One-fifth of the country washed away.  In Swat alone, nearly all the bridges have been destroyed.  All roads to Baluchistan, with the exception of one, are unreachable.  And there was no time for preparation.  No time to erect tent cities or camps to which the IDPs could be directed.  Many camped on rooftops or levees hoping the water would be merciful.  But there was no such luck.  Although major cities are intact, innumerable villages are inundated, causing the IDPs to make their way to the cities.  They camp wherever they find space.

Doctors from the Pakistan Medical Association are trying to cope with the human tragedy.  Setting out into the field, Dr. Nighat Shah writes in her diary (forwarded to me by email) from Khairpur, Sindh:  “Khairpur, at this moment, is housing a huge bulk of displaced people from Larkana, Jacobabad, Shikarpur and many smaller villages….the registered displaced people are more than 50,000.  Around 120 camps are housing people in small clusters.  These range from 250-300 people in smaller schools, to 5000-8000 in bigger schools.”

With tents in very short supply, public schools are being substituted as IDP camps.  Their toilet facilities clogged, furniture falling into disrepair, several educational facilities are indefinitely closed.  If more tent villages can be set up, Dr. Nabil Zafar, another doctor in the field notes, “at least not all of the desks will become firewood.”  Yet the children deprived of an education are not of primary concern.  It is the enormous number of children suffering from disease and malnutrition that is a far greater worry.

Dr. Nighat Shah writes, “In all camps, by far the majority is of children….Almost all the children are sick, ranging from stunted growth, severe malnourishment, diarrhoea and skin problems.  The women are almost all anaemic, weak, malnourished, perpetually pregnant or breast-feeding.  The sad part is there is no milk but the baby is still latched.”   

Khairpur, with all its troubles, is still better off than other areas like Dera Ismail Khan, where 800,000 people are displaced and 150 villages affected, not to mention the 400,000 IDPs from adjacent Waziristan that are still there, having evacuated their homes prior to the recent army action against insurgents in their area.  With infrastructure and hospitals severely damaged, even NGOs are largely absent from this area. 

And in the mountains, places like Gilgit-Baltistan and Kohistan have become completely inaccessible.  As the people of this area tend to be as rugged as their terrain, they have industriously replaced fallen bridges with make-shift arrangements.  But the substitutes are treacherous and difficult for urban NGO-types to negotiate.  In an interview on Aaj TV, the program director of the only NGO that has ventured there revealed that when his workers crossed the bridge to deliver food to those unfortunate ones who had been cut off from the world, they came back drenched in sweat.  Their sweat was not from the heat as the mountains remain cool in summer, but from sheer fear and dread of the flimsy and inadequate improvised bridge on which they walked.  Underneath it, flowed torrential waters, ruthless in their carnage.  What if the bridge gave way?  Eventually, it did.  The victims:  a pregnant woman and her three children.

Although not many lives have been lost, long treks and 13 hours of trudging through waist-deep water has resulted in separated families.  One seven-year old lost girl in Sindh took refuge at a Sikh temple, a gurdwara, until Dunya TV crews discovered her.  Although her information was broadcast, it is doubtful her family is able to view television in the camp where they may have sought refuge.  Meanwhile, at the gurdwara, multi-religious communities come together to help each other out of their misery and feed the IDPs that have camped around it.  Chanting “Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Essai, bhai bhai,” (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are all brothers) local people try to aid each other.

But international aid is slow to arrive.  For those who have lost their homes and their crops, the loss of their farm animals is the most difficult to bear.  A seventy-year old woman in south Punjab refuses to vacate her home unless her goat is also evacuated.  In another instance, a navy boat rescuing a group from a severely affected area is made to turn back so that “their children,” as the IDPs put it, can also be saved.  As it turns out, the children are cattle and sheep and there is no room for them on the boat.

With transportation and communication links severely disrupted, identity cards washed away, and resources scarce, relief efforts are overburdened.  As Faris Kasim, working in the field with Save the Children, emailed, “Collecting data, coordinating and responding to the crisis and even receiving information has been quite challenging.  We have barely slept coordinating with the government, army, National Disaster Management Authority and UN agencies to organise relief…I guarantee you, as an eye witness to the disaster, that everyone is working round the clock to help the affected people…the emergency response has been far better than what we saw during the earthquake in 2005 or the floods in 2007.”

Yet the scale of the disaster is so large, the number of people affected, according to a report by the Brookings Institution, is more than three times that of Haiti’s earthquake and more than ten times that of Hurricane Katrina.  A catastrophe of this magnitude is impossible to manage without a lot more help from the international community.

Ayesha Ijaz Khan is a lawyer and political analyst.  She can be reached through her website: www.ayeshaijazkhan.com








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"Powerful and shocking ..
see this film"
-- Joseph Stiglitz on American Casino





The Occupation
by Patrick Cockburn

Humanitarian Imperialism
By Jean Bricmont
By Tennessee Reed