Pakistan asks U.S. military for help, but not Canada
ISLAMABAD—The Canadian military’s Disaster Assistance Response Team has no immediate plans to travel to Pakistan to help with flood recovery efforts because it hasn’t been asked to go.
Foreign military forces from the United States, Japan and Australia are either in Pakistan or en route in the wake of the worst flooding in the country’s history. Some aid officials had expected Canada’s DART to join them in Pakistan.
More than 20 million Pakistanis are said to be affected by the flooding and access to clean drinking water is an immediate priority.
But an official at the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad told the Star that Canada has not been asked for additional help. Several Canadian aid agencies including the Canadian Red Cross and Care Canada are on the ground in Pakistan.
“At this moment there has been no decision to deploy,” said Fareeha Iftikhar, a Canadian High Commission spokesperson. “A DART deployment can only be considered upon formal request from the government of the affected country and based on an assessment of the needs of the affected population.”
Pakistan’s decision against asking for DART is curious.
DART typically features a medical team of at least 30 doctors, nurses and medical technicians, complemented by engineers who can provide access to clean drinking water with reverse osmosis water purification facilities, which can produce up to 200,000 litres of clean water a day.
Moreover, the Pakistan government said publicly it was grateful for DART’s assistance in 2005 following an earthquake in Kashmir that killed more than 80,000 people.
Still, that deployment wasn’t without controversy.
Canadian military officials bristled over Pakistan’s demand that Canadian troops avoid bringing any weapons into the country. The Canadian team set up a medical base near Muzaffarabad, capital of
Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and some officers worried about securing their base. In the end, the team came without weapons and there were no known security breaches.
If Canada ultimately does send DART to Pakistan, the team would probably be deployed in southern Pakistan where floodwaters remain high.
American forces are helping to provide aid and transportation in Pakistan’s northwest Swat Valley, where security remains a concern, and don’t have the same restrictions over bringing weapons into the country because U.S. forces were already in Pakistan before the floods training Pakistani soldiers.
Japan, meantime, is sending 200 military helicopters to Pakistan this week, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported. A total of 530 Japanese ground, air and naval troops are scheduled to be mobilized for the relief mission.