The PJ Tatler

Pakistan Sends Packaged Beef as Disaster Relief to Nepal, a Majority Hindu Country

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Packets of “beef masala” that were sent to Nepal as part of a disaster relief package from Pakistan are causing major heartburn in the Hindu Himalayan country, which treats cows as sacred.

According to the Daily Mail, the development could “trigger diplomatic acrimony” between the countries. 

Indian doctors at Kathmandu’s Bir Hospital told Mail Today that packets of ‘beef masala’ were sent by Pakistan on Tuesday as part of relief aid to the temblor survivors. These doctors – drawn from Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) — are members of a 34-member medical team sent to Nepal for treating the survivors.

“When we reached the airport to collect the food items from Pakistan, we found packets of ready-to-eat meals, including packets of ‘beef masala’. There were other food items too,” Dr Balwinder Singh told Mail Today. 

Perplexed, the doctors chose to have food from a hotel instead. 

“We did not touch the Pakistani aid,” Dr Singh said. “Most of the local people are not aware of the contents. When they understand, they avoid it,” said another doctor on the condition of anonymity.

He added: “Pakistan has hurt Nepal’s religious sentiments by supplying the masala. Shockingly, it did not care about the sensitivity of the matter.” 

A spokesperson for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Daily Mail, “I am not aware of the issue.…I am not responsible for the dispatch. The relief aid is sent by the National Disaster Management Authority.”

But an Indian national organization angrily lashed out at Pakistan for sending the beef masala to Nepal. Senior RSS leader Dattatreya Hosabale said: ‘This is highly insensitive and condemnable.”

Nepal is not taking the faux pas lightly. A top government official told reporters: “The matter has been conveyed to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and the intelligence chief. We are also starting an internal inquiry to verify the facts. If the report is correct, we will raise the matter at the diplomatic level with Pakistan. India, being our key partner, will also be informed of the developments.”

It’s hard to imagine that this could be an innocent mistake, given the dietary practices of Hindus are common knowledge, but according to a message posted at Pakistan’s  National Disaster Management Authority website, there seems to have been a good-faith effort to help:

National Disaster Management Authority has dispatched the second of two sorties of C-130 aircrafts on April 28 in collaboration with Pakistan Army, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan Air Force. The relief goods include 250 tents, 200 food packs (2.6 tonne), 1,000 Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), 1,000 blankets and 33 cartons of medicines. These relief goods have been provided from NDMA stocks….

There is an overwhelming need for disaster relief in Nepal due to the massive number of people who have been forced from their homes by the devastating earthquake.

Half a million tents are urgently needed, a government minister said Wednesday.

Rijal wasn’t able to put a precise number on those made homeless by Saturday’s devastating quake, but he said the government had so far provided more than 4,700 tents and 22,000 tarpaulins to those in need of shelter.

According to CNN, “5,489 people were confirmed dead as of Thursday morning as a result of the massive earthquake, with another 11,440 injured.”