Help needed

The U.S. Department of State advises that Americans can donate $10 to Pakistan flood-relief efforts, administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, by texting “SWAT” to 50555.

Last week, the United Nations ranked the flooding in Pakistan as the worst humanitarian crisis in its history. That’s right: worse than the 2004 Asian tsunami, worse than Pakistan’s 2005 earthquake, worse than Hurricane Katrina and worse than the earthquake in Haiti—and that’s just counting the recent contenders. The estimated 1,600 dead are a fraction of the expected toll, which will surely rise now that cholera has made its appearance. Follow that with the very real possibility of extended famine—Pakistan’s crops are being wiped out by the flooding—and you have the sort of cascading crisis that rends the fabric of a nation.

As if the Pakistani people’s agony weren’t horrible enough, our own future is intricately woven together with how well Pakistan as a nation can weather this situation. The U.S. position in Afghanistan relies on stability in Pakistan. Their disaster is a worldwide humanitarian crisis, and it is a U.S. foreign-policy crisis.

Private donations to help are valuable (the column note contains one U.N. agency recommended by the U.S. Department of State), but please also contact your congressional representatives and senators to remind them that what happens to Pakistan matters to America.