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Pakistan flood levels to rise

Disaster threatens Pakistan’s fight against Taliban.

PAKISTAN’S WORST FLOODING for 80 years looks set to continue as the monsoon season rolls on. The flooding has killed more than 1,600 people so far and forced the evacuation of 2 million from their homes.

Rain continues to pound the country, and the water level of the already-swollen Indus river is expected to rise even higher today. An estimated 14.5 million people are affected by the disaster, which the UN has termed worse than the Asian tsunami of 2004.

Aid agencies are warning that water-borne diseases are now posing a serious threat to the population. The UN says it is providing preventative medication to try to halt the spread of illness among flood victims.

About $1 billion of Pakistan’s crops have been destroyed by the flooding, according to the World Bank. The bank’s president Robert Zoellick said today that the organisation may redirect $900 million in aid to the country.

Government dissatisfaction

Criticism of the government’s response continues to grow, and tension among survivors competing for food is growing, as this video shows:

President Zardari made his first visit to some of the affected areas yesterday, having been heavily criticised for going ahead with state visits to Paris and England during the growing crisis in Pakistan.

The Guardian reports that TV stations in Pakistan which attempted to report an incident during Zardari’s visit to Britain were censored. While the president visited Birmingham, a Pakistani man in the crowd threw a pair of shoes at him in protest at his handling of the flooding crisis.

The shoes missed their target, and the protester was arrested at the scene.

Taliban crisis

The US has been flying relief supplies into Pakistan in an effort to improve public approval for the troops. US military support for Pakistan’s fight against the Taliban in the north of the country has killed civilians in missile attacks intended for Taliban targets.

After the UN called for a surge in donations to assist Pakistan’s recovery, the Taliban called for a boycott of aid from “foreign infidels”. The floods may threaten Pakistan’s ability to cope with Taliban insurgents, as the country’s resources are directed into surviving the flooding and rebuilding the country.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN has said that David Cameron’s recent comments concerning Pakistan’s efforts against the Taliban may have hampered fund raising for the flood victims. Cameron suggested the government wasn’t doing enough to tackle the Taliban.

Abdullah Hussain Haroon warns that the Taliban could gain a stronger foothold in flood-stricken areas if they cannot be pushed out with the help of the international community.

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