US aid workers in Pak under threat of terrorist attacks over Stars and Stripes logo: Charities

Islamabad, Oct 12 (ANI): Eleven charities have written a letter to the US, warning that the aid workers in Pakistan might face terrorist attacks if it does not back down on a policy that requires them to use a Stars and Stripes logo on American-funded assistance.

According to The Telegraph, Oxfam, Save The Children, World Vision and Care International are among the groups, which have written to officials in Washington warning that the US policy of "branding" aid jeopardises their neutrality in a country that is full of anti-American militants.

The paper quoted a draft of the letter, as saying that the aid must not be seen to "promote a political agenda".

"Instead, there are strong indicators that branding will attract violent attacks for both economic and ideologically motivated reasons. Branding in flood-affected areas must not be used as a test-case because the outcomes are likely to be fatal and impact on the longer-term ability of humanitarian agencies to deliver assistance in Pakistan," it added.

The aid workers are facing a risk to their lives from the terrorist outfits like the Taliban and the al-Qaeda, the paper said.

Charities receiving US funding received a reminder of their obligation last month after the visit of Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative to Pakistan, who expressed disappointment that the US was not getting the credit it deserved as he toured aid camps.

Following Holbrooke's visit, the US aid directive issued waivers in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkwa, the areas worst affected by insurgents, but it outraged many charity workers who believe other areas of the country are also at risk. Instead the letter set out an alternative strategy, using media packs to raise awareness of the American contribution without identifying specific locations or projects.

Mohammed Qazilbash, director of Save the Children in Pakistan, said: "We understand the need for branding but it must be done in a way that will ensure the safety and security of our personnel and the beneficiaries as well as our local partners." (ANI)

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