Friday, March 31, 2006

# Posted 6:44 PM by Patrick Belton  

LEADING INDIAN CLASSICAL SINGER IN HUMANITARIAN VISIT TO PAKISTAN: Shuba Mudgal, actually a fairly well known Indian classical singer, visited Pakistan this week to hold a charity concert for earthquake-stricken Pakistani administered portions of Kashmir. I had lunch with Ms Mudgal and her husband, and spoke to the head of the ngo for which her concert was a benefit. Ms Mudgal, her husband Aneesh Pradhan and Dr Ghazala Aziz of the Accident and Emergency Foundation each make a strong impression as serious, intelligent and humble. The human interest aspect of Ms Mudgal's trip across the subcontinental divide provides a hook into the current state of the earthquake areas, which has humanitarian and interesting political angles. The political aspects involve jostling between US and Islamic charities such as Jamat-ud-Dawa and Al-Rasheed Trust, which competed though there was tacit cooperation also. I had luncheon at the Pakistan press club with a correspondent who spoke of seeing USAID-labelled cartoons being loaded onto trucks in camps run by Jamat-ud-Dawa. The quantity of US aid made approval of America double briefly from its customary 22 per cent, though the recent US missile attack upon a target in Bajaur territory (reputed to be permitted the US by an undisclosed agreement in situations of immediate pursuit; missing Zawahiri but killing thirteen villagers) has returned poll numbers to their prior lower watermark. There's more to be said on this topic.
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