Many of the Pakistani-Americans who live in ethnically diverse Jackson Heights, Queens, are saddened by the flooding in their homeland and even have relatives among the displaced. But, despite family ties, many aren’t giving to the relief effort because they simply don’t trust the Pakistani government. “The money might reach a quarter of the people who really need it,” says Mussarat Khan as he leaves a doctor’s office. “The doctor and I were discussing the flood, there is just so much corruption.” Whether the corruption allegations are true or not, perceptions that money would be wasted is one reason relief organizations say contributions for flood victims are way down.
Behavior demonstrating corruption today can have dire consequences tomorrow when disaster strikes. If the government of Pakistan had been behaving morally all along perhaps people would be inclined to trust them to do the right thing now. Alas, however, they didn’t. And now they’re reaping what they have sown: mistrust and an unwillingness to send money that in all likelihood will be used for other things than relief.