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Hearts bleed but not enough to melt - Blair's book gesture sparks jeers, Jolie's Pak call falls on deaf ears

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By AMIT ROY
  • Published 18.08.10
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London, Aug. 17: Bleeding hearts no longer appear to be working for Pakistan despite the latest appeal from Angelina Jolie.

It is proving difficult raising money for flood victims in Pakistan despite harrowing footage of suffering children on television.

And a bleeding heart certainly does not appear to be working for Tony Blair, who has announced he will donate the proceeds from his memoirs to an army charity.

The former Prime Minister’s memoirs, A Journey, are due to be published by Random House on September 1.

Blair, who joined President George W. Bush’s war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, has been bluntly told by his critics that “no proportion of his massive and ill-gotten fortune can buy him innocence or forgiveness”.

On Pakistan, there are a number of theories as to why people the world over, not just in Britain, have been relatively slow to respond with financial donations.

Many see Pakistan as a source of terrorism, while others fear their money will be pocketed by corrupt officials or disappear into military coffers.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, pinned the blame for the tardy response on British Prime Minister David Cameron who had accused elements inside Pakistan of exporting terrorism: “Yes, indeed Pakistan has suffered because of what Mr Cameron has said, because the British people will listen to their Prime Minister.”

At the premiere of her film Salt in London on Monday, Jolie did not volunteer a statement on Pakistan but only responded when she was asked what help she could give in her role as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“I’m doing what I can,” replied the Hollywood actress. “I’m talking to Ambassador (Richard) Holbrooke, the UN and people on the ground about how we can spend our money.”

Shimmering in a silver sequinned floor-length gown by Amanda Wakeley and Salvatore Ferragamo heels, Jolie said the situation in Pakistan “is unravelling every minute, it seems to be getting worse so we’re trying to keep track of it”.

As for Blair, who won three successive general elections, he is finding it virtually impossible to convince the majority of the British people of his good faith in taking the country to war against Iraq.

His spokesman announced yesterday that he was donating all the profits from his forthcoming memoirs to a new sports centre for injured troops. He was handing over his reported £4.6-million advance, as well as any royalties.

A statement on the ex-Prime Minister’s website disclosed: “Tony Blair decided on leaving office that he would donate the proceeds of his memoirs to a charity for the Armed Forces as a way of marking the enormous sacrifice they make for the security of our people and the world.”

The statement added: “We have been consulting with a number of people and organisations to decide the best support he can give. There is one project consistently highlighted — the British Royal Legion’s Battle Back Challenge Centre.”

The director-general of the Royal British Legion, Chris Simpkins, said the organisation was “delighted to accept this very generous donation”.

But the Stop the War Coalition was far from pacified: “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in the pointless death of hundreds of British soldiers and hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians. No amount of money will wash their blood from his hands.”

Relatives of Iraq war casualties branded the donation “too little too late”.

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in 2004, commented: “I don’t think the man has a conscience because he has never apologised. He’s never come out and actually apologised to the families and kids who have lost loved ones. I think he is doing this just now to make people think he has changed his opinion on the forces.”