Islamist Leader in Pakistan Says Accepting Flood Relief From U.S. and India Is Like ‘Poison’
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
By Patrick Goodenough, International Editor
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) head Syed Munawar Hasan (Photo: JI Web site)(CNSNews.com) – Accepting emergency aid from the United States or India amounts to taking “poison,” the head of one of Pakistan’s leading Islamist political parties said Tuesday.
The remarks by Syed Munawar Hasan, head of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), evidently were intended to apply new pressure on a government already walking a tightrope between dealing with the flood crisis and antagonizing radical elements.
He spoke on the same day the United Nations appealed for more helicopters to help reach hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis cut off by the “unprecedented floods.”
The U.S. has been the largest donor by far to the aid effort, committing 19 U.S. Marine and U.S. Navy helicopters to the task of delivering relief and evacuating people stranded by floodwaters. Apart from Pakistan itself the only other countries known to have provided military helicopters are the United Arab Emirates and Japan.
According to a statement released by JI, Hasan said Pakistan should not be taking aid from the U.S. or from neighboring India.
The U.S. and India are the biggest tyrants and terrorists on the face of the earth and aid or assistance from them would be hazardous and would lead to an epidemic,” it quoted him as telling JI workers at a relief camp set up in Karachi.
JI and other Islamist parties in Pakistan are highly critical of Islamabad for its cooperation with the U.S., especially in combating radical groups. Hasan called earlier this year for all Pakistanis to “unite against America” and the group has held rallies under the banner “Go America Go.”
JI also reviles India, Pakistan’s longstanding rival which controls part of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region claimed by both countries.
India offered $5 million towards the flood relief effort, but despite the scale of the emergency – the U.N. says as many as 20 million people have been affected – Pakistan dithered over the offer for almost a week.