Thursday, August 5, 2010

Floods in Pakistan

Kalsoom of Changing Pakistan blog reports on the massive flooding in a region of Pakistan that had previously been the site of violent conflict between the army and the Pakistani Taliban:
The inundations have inflicted maximum damage on the provincial capital, Peshawar, and the valley of Swat, an area trying to return to normal life after the devastation that resulted from an anti-Taliban operation last year. Reporting about Nowshehra, a chief region of the beautiful Swat valley, an Express Tribune writer tells that flash floods have washed away more than 10,000 homes in Nowshera Kalan and more than 5,000 people have migrated to the village and its surrounding areas.

According to the latest reports, some 1.5 million people are among the affected by the worst flood in the last 80 years ... a huge populace stays aloof from all aid and rescue, stuck in water-locked areas. The worst is the lack of medical facilities available to the affected. The health conditions are fast deteriorating due to the virulent outbreak of a number of diseases including cholera and gastroenteritis.
The World Food Program observes that food stocks have been wiped out.  WFP is now trying to deliver food to as many of the nearly three million people impacted by the disaster as possible.

Few observers fail to note public outrage against perceived inaction or indifference of the Pakistani president. For example, the website of PKKH (a pro-China Islamic political group) describes the "growing public backlash against the civilian government and President Asif Ali Zardari over failures to provide food, water and sanitation to all survivors, as well as the refusal of over 150 parliamentarians to donate their salary to the cause."  Anger at the Pakistani government is also reflected in comments at the Guardian website.   Will the disaster -- which has impacted a strife-ridden area of the country -- further undermine Pakistan's political stability, or might this tragedy lead to reconciliation (as happened in Ache Indonesia after the tsunami)?


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