I can barely believe the words I am writing are not a nightmare from which I will soon wake up.
A third of Pakistan is now under water, and fresh rainfall threatens two more waves of flooding in the southern Sindh province.
The submerged area of the country is as big as the United Kingdom!
14 million Pakistans have been affected.
2 million have been made altogether homeless.
6 million people are in need of immediate help.
The United Nations is now calling for nearly half a billion dollars in international aid for Pakistan, in the face of a weird resistance on the part of the world community to step up and help. When Pakistan faced a relatively minor security threat from a small guerrilla movement of Pakistani Taliban in the northwest, the world community ponied up billions in aid. This much more devastating flood is not generating the same enthusiasm for helping the country.
Oxfam America is taking donations for the Pakistan relief effort.
An unexpected casualty of the floods has been press freedom in civilian-ruled Pakistan. President Asaf Ali Zardari’s trip to Europe has provoked widespread protest. But the ruling Pakistan People’s Party officials have attempted to prevent the public from seeing the protests on television, and so have blacked out the GEO and Ary satellite news in Urdu. It is the sort of policy that military dictator Pervez Musharraf used to engage in, and it helped make him so hated that his government fell.
Aljazeera English has video on the disappointment in the Pakistani public at the government’s failure to distribute aid in a timely way and efficiently, and at Mr. Zardari’s trips abroad.