Tiny Minority of Extremists Update: the U.S. is less popular than the jihadists in Pakistan, such that even our putative friends and allies in the Pakistani government don’t want to be associated with us too closely.
“In Pakistani Relief Camps, Charities Press Anti-U.S. View,” by Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah for the New York Times, July 2 (thanks to Varunappa):
QASIM PULA, Pakistan “” Islamist charities and the United States are competing for the allegiance of the two million people displaced by the fight against the Taliban in Swat and other parts of Pakistan “” and so far, the Islamists are in the lead.
Although the United States is the largest contributor to a United Nations relief effort, the Pakistani authorities have refused to allow American workers or planes to distribute the aid in the camps for displaced people. The Pakistanis do not want to be associated with their unpopular ally.
Meanwhile, in the absence of effective aid from the government, hard-line Islamist charities are using the refugee crisis to push their anti-Western agenda and to sour public opinion against the war and the United States.
Last week, a crowd of men, the heads of households uprooted from Swat, gathered here in this village in northwestern Pakistan for handouts for their desperate families. But before they could even get a can of cooking oil, the aid director for a staunchly anti-Western Islamic charity took full advantage of having a captive audience, exhorting the men to jihad.
“The Western organizations have spent millions and billions on family planning to destroy the Muslim family system,” said the aid director, Mehmood ul-Hassan, who represented Al Khidmat, a powerful charity of the strongly anti-American political party Jamaat-e-Islami.
The Western effort had failed, he said, but Pakistanis should show their strength by joining the fight against the infidels….
“Because of the lack of international agencies, there is a vacuum filled by actors that are Islamist and more than that, jihadist,” said Kristele Younes, a senior advocate with Refugees International, a Washington group specializing in refugee issues.
But there is no lack of American aid, and yet the Islamist and jihadist actors are still preferred.
One of the most prominent jihadist charity groups, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, had been barred from the camps, according to Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmad, the head of the Pakistani Army”s disaster management group. The groupwas designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council in December.
Nonetheless, it set up operations in Mardan under a new name, Falah-e-Insaniyat, according to Himayatullah Mayar, the mayor of Mardan. After the order to leave the area, Falah-e-Insaniyat went underground but still appeared to be operating to some extent, Mr. Mayar said….
Meanwhile, Mr. Hassan was busy checking new temporary schools, health clinics and four ambulances on 24-hour service that Al Khidmat had set up.
Every day, he said, he personally supervised the distribution of food at three different places “” sometimes at a home, sometimes in a camp. So far, he said, he had covered 400 of 450 villages near the city of Swabi.
Always, he said, before the food is distributed, he delivers his exhortation to jihad.
By contrast, Pakistani authorities have insisted that any American aid be delivered in a “subtle” manner, General Ahmad said.
The general said he had told American officials that there would be an “extremely negative” reaction if Americans were seen to be distributing aid, particularly if it was delivered by American military aircraft.
“I said they couldn’t fly in Chinooks, no way,” General Ahmad said, referring to American military helicopters. The United States, he said, was seen as “part of the problem.”
The inconspicuous back seat is not what American officials had hoped for. At first, the huge exodus of people from Swat, many of whom had suffered from the brutality of the Taliban, seemed to present an opportunity for Washington to improve its image in Pakistan.
“There is an opportunity actually to provide services, much as we did with the earthquake relief, which had a profound impact on the perception of America,” Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who serves as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said during a hearing attended by the Obama administration’s special envoy, Richard C. Holbrooke, at the start of the exodus….
Here is why Kerry’s assumption that relief efforts will improve the perception of America among jihadists is dead wrong.