Rushdie on the Flagging Earthquake Relief Effort

Rushdie has a piece in the November 8 Toronto Star on Pakistan earthquake relief. He makes what I see as a particularly important point about the need to separate the humanitarian effort from ongoing political strife as much as possible:

[T]he people of Kashmir deserve better than they are getting. They certainly do not deserve to be subjected to a kind of "political test" of aid-worthiness. Yet, ever since the day of the earthquake, people in the United States and Europe have been asking me and many others the same politically loaded question:

Will the disaster "help?" Will it enable India and Pakistan to sink their differences and, at long last, to make an end of their long Kashmiri quarrel?

It has been hard to avoid the conclusion that Western attitudes toward aiding Kashmir depend to some degree on the answer to this question being "yes." Alas, the answer is "no."

India and Pakistan are still mired in mutual suspicion, as the saga of the Indian helicopters reveals: India offered them, but Pakistan refused to accept them unless they were flown by Pakistani pilots, which India in turn refused to accept. Meanwhile the quake victims went right on dying.

Moreover, as the recent murder of a moderate Kashmiri politician showed, and as the bombs in Delhi would seem to confirm, there are Islamist groups who remain determined to sabotage any improvement in Indo-Pakistani relations.

As long as those groups find sanctuary in Pakistan, a peace settlement will be impossible.

All of which should be irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Yes. It doesn't matter if it doesn't help the peace process one bit. Our obligation to those in need remains the same whether peace is imminent or war is about to break out.