Approximately 1,600 people are reported to be dead in the depressing floods that have ravaged Pakistan in the last couple of months [NYT – Flood disaster may require largest aid effort in modern history]. This speaks of a disaster of enormous magnitude and deserves sympathy and (more importantly) aid in all forms from national governments across the world.
And India has rightly obliged. The Government of India had announced a $5mn aid package that Pakistan, shockingly, took a while to decide whether to accept or not. They have finally accepted the offer [Times of India – Pak accepts India flood aid offer], but are unlikely to issue visas to around 400 Indian medics to travel to the country and play a role in treating the millions affected and displaced by the floods. [Economic Times – Pak unlikely to issue visas to Indian doctors]
Now, we have several issues that directly damage us and that directly involve Pakistan. But this is not the time to talk about those issues, and instead offer as much help as possible to the Pakistani people. This is believed to earn India some goodwill and one would expect that it would blow the lid on the image of India that the ISI-Taliban-Army nexus tries to create every now and then, and make it persist in public discourse.
However, it would be wise of us to not get carried away. Public memory is usually short and it is unlikely that Pakistan’s civil society will ever have a ‘clean’ opinion on India. This is largely because the textbooks in their schools are agenda-based, an agenda that is directly anti-India.
There is also the possibility that since hardliner elements in Pakistan are always likely to blame India, even for natural disasters, opinion is always likely to end up divided [Times of India – Pak hardliners blame India, US for floods]. The fact that Pakistan failed to accept our offer of aid for so long, speaks of enough scepticism about India that exists in the neighbour.
My point is that we must just do what the human being in us calls for (offer maximum possible aid, doctors) and then resume normal service, once things stabilize. Expecting any drastic change in public opinion or even return-goodwill on the part of Pakistan in strongly dealing with various terrorist elements is unnecessary.