Former Army Chief and Secretary of State George Marshall confronted the enemy of world hunger on more than one occasion. Marshall, as an envoy in 1946, worked “to get the Yangtze River traffic re-established to reach the most acute famine areas” of China, according to Herbert Hoover.
When confronted with a hunger crisis in Europe after World War II, Marshall said, “Every humane, economic, and world political interest of the United States dictates that we, the American people, should do everything within our power to help feed the people of Europe this winter.” This leadership was integral to the massive reconstruction program for Europe known as the Marshall Plan.
This was a foreign policy fueled by food, understanding its value as the foundation for all other objectives. It’s a philosophy that should apply today in Pakistan as aid workers are trying desperately to feed millions of people in their flood-ravaged country.
At least 6 million Pakistanis urgently need food aid. Josette Sheeran, the director of the World Food Programme, says: “People have lost seeds, crops and their incomes leaving them vulnerable to hunger, homelessness and desperation – the situation is extremely critical. We urgently need continued and strengthened commitment to the people of Pakistan in this time of crisis.”
Funding right now is low for the relief effort. A WFP situation report says there is “a shortfall of just under US$90 million” for feeding Pakistan. WFP adds: “While many donors have announced pledges, WFP urges them to confirm their donations in order to avoid breaks in the food pipeline in September.”
A cut in rations would be devastating, not only from a humanitarian perspective but also in terms of building peace and friendship between Pakistanis and the U.S. and its allies. Do we help them or let them further descend into the chaos of hunger and desperation? Marshall once said, “hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.”
The people of Pakistan need the support and compassion of the world community. They have suffered shock after shock when you consider that just a year ago the war raged in the Swat Valley between the government and the Taliban.
With such large-scale suffering and an enormous relief task, where do you begin? It all starts with food, the ultimate foundation.
To donate to the relief effort, please visit the World Food Program USA site.