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Why we should care about Pakistan

A Q&A with Charles Amjad-Ali

More than 20 million people in Pakistan were affected by devastating floods in August 2010. Four million were left homeless and more than 2,000 died. Secular media coverage focused in large part on a lukewarm aid response from Western countries and on fears that terrorist groups would win followers through outreach to survivors. Lutherans gave millions to appeals after the Haitian earthquake and Asian tsunami. But images of those disasters were constantly in the media — bolstering church and other appeal efforts in the U.S.

By the end of 2010, ELCA members had given $160,000 and the ELCA had spent $250,000 on relief efforts in Pakistan. Funds went to Lutheran World Relief, in partnership with Muslim Aid, for immediate relief including food, temporary shelter and other emergency needs. Funding also went to Church World Service-Pakistan, primarily for mobile health clinics, emergency food and other material aid.

The Lutheran asked Charles Amjad-Ali for his perspective on the Pakistan situation. He is the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Justice and Christian Community at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., and a pastor of the Church of Pakistan.

Charles Amjad-Ali
Charles Amjad-Ali

The Lutheran: How serious is the crisis? Do politics impede relief appeals?

Amjad-Ali: Water-carried infectious diseases such as cholera, typhoid and malaria may affect Pakistan for years to come, and access to clean drinking water will be a long-term challenge. Flooding collapsed much of the country's infrastructure, including roads, bridges, gas supplies and the hydroelectric system. It's the most dreadful natural disaster in the country's history, and all of this deeply impacts Pakistan's economy.


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