Another 500,000 Flee Indus Breaches
Taliban threaten Aid Workers;
Global Warming Implicated

The raging, swollen Indus River abruptly breached an embankment in the Thatta district in Sindh, Pakistan, on Wednesday evening, unexpectedly sending flood waters toward the town of Thatta and several others in the district. Panicked residents tried to flee in the thousands.

The News writes, “Villagers fled trailing north in vans laden with furniture or crowded into buses, or in carts pulled by oxen. Some people were on foot, leading their livestock. Water lined the road from Hyderabad to Thatta town, as workers frantically used bulldozers to dig embankments only just higher than the flooding, and where people camped out under open skies or in makeshift tents.”

As a result, authorities are calling on a further 500,000 Pakistanis to evacuate. Some 17 million Pakistanis have already been affected by the floods. Some parts of the country look like an inland sea. (About a fifth of the country is underwater and a third of its districts are affected by the catastrophe).

Lord Julian Hunt argues that global warming is responsible for the floods and that such extreme weather events in India and Pakistan are becoming more common as time goes on. Hunt is former director-general of the Meteorological Office in London.

The US government contribution to flood relief is now approaching $200 million; a decision has been taken to divert $50 mn. from the Kerry-Lugar act, which had already authorized development aid, to the relief effort.

Aljazeera English has video on this new challenge:

As if another several hundred thousand people hitting the road with inundations breathing down on them were not bad enough, now the Pakistani Taliban are threatening to attack foreign aid workers trying to help the victims.

PBS News Hour has more.

9 Responses

  1. Suppose that America stops, just stops forcing war on Pakistan and stops bombing Pakistan and bothers to help Pakistani civilians even a little rather than pouring money on Pakistani soldiers who have been almost nowhere in evidence in helping civilians through the floods. We need to stop warring in Pakistan at once. President Obama promised to war in Pakistan, and now must stop.

  2. A question that would be nice to have answered is, how much has America spent on military assistance to Pakistan as compared to the flood assistance now being offered? Also, where is the vaunted Pakistani military? The Chinese military is always there for civilians in a crisis. My sense is that Pakistan’s President as well as the military leadership have almost no feeling of social responsibility.

  3. Well, it is a bit harsh to put blame on the Pakistani military. Quite a few reports indicate they have saved a lot of lives eg link to in.reuters.com

    The scale of this disaster is such, no government or army could have done anything much about it. Having said that, the politicians/landowners, who have been engaged in battles to build illegal dams to defend their own land whilst breaching dams protecting their rivals lands, have not covered themselves in glory.

    Lower Sindh is going to be under water for some time now as the floods coming down the Indus have overflowed important flood defences. With high tides in the Arabian Sea, the water has nowhere to go.

    Regarding US and NATO aid – as well as the important public diplomacy angle – NATO logistics are working day and night to try and reopen/open up new routes into Afghanistan to supply the troops there. Expect a lot of road-building equipment and bridges to be sent to Pakistan.

    Regarding the People’s Liberation Army – they are one of the most hopeless armies in the world but the their propaganda department is good at getting to any disaster, putting up red flags and filming soldiers looking active – usually in completely hopeless tasks designed to look good on camera.

    In Pakistan at least the leadership can be called out if they visit staged relief camps and actors posing as victims: link to news.rediff.com

  4. I wonder, can drones be used to find some of the 800,000 people who are stranded and cut-off? Would they offer much help in the search and rescue missions?

  5. Dodi F – Undoubtedly drones could identify and feed the coordinates back to helicopters to save the lives of 1,000s of families stuck on the roofs of houses and in isolated pockets of dry land.

    These drones have (allegedly) been flown out of Jacobabad air base which the Asian Human Rights Commission has appealed that the US military allow to be used for relief operations: link to ahrchk.net and which Pakistan Senate’s Deputy Chairman Mir Jan Mohammed Khan Jamali has alleged was saved from the floods by diverting the waters into very large areas of inhabited agricultural land. link to news.oneindia.in

    There are a lot of people who have been exposed to the elements and have been without access to safe water and food for days and even weeks and they need rescue/resupply.

    Unfortunately, as we have seen, even in these circumstances, the US military is continuing to use these assets to launch air-strikes, killing women and children.

  6. Mark –

    If the AHRC’s statement is to be believed, it only highlights a sad state of affairs that have added to Pakistan’s misfortunes. Boggles the mind that 700,000 souls should be deserted in that manner. I hope it’s not true and if it is then the US forces in Jacobabad airbase are already conducting their own relief efforts, if they won’t allow others to do so out of that airbase.

    Thanks for the reply.

  7. Notice how the similar the Taliban is to the Republican Party?
    Taliban prevent government and volunteer efforts that will help Pakistani citizens in dire need, with the goal of gaining power and showing that the government cannot have a positive impact on average people.
    Republicans prevent government and volunteer efforts that will help American citizens in dire need, with the goal of gaining power and showing that the government cannot have a positive impact on average people.
    Not sure who learned from whom, but the tactics and harm are the same. I suspect the Taliban and GOP will both gain in the short run from their nasty behavior

  8. Asalaam o alaikum!
    It is a shame that politics is with holding help from the displaced population of Pakistan because of the flood.
    The article you quoted blame the Taliban for delaying foreign help into the area. The Pakistani word on the ground is that “foreign help” is demanding that local NGOs including religious organizations that are helping should be cleared of the region before they offer help.
    One wonders what is the truth?
    The bottom line is that the line of the needy grows longer, and sadness is spreading like wildfire……..and bringing anger with it, and the world is watching motionless or averting its gaze.

  9. Tom, a government powerful enough to give you everything you desire will certainly be more than powerful enough to take everything you have, from your rights to your prized possessions. The answer is not more government, because government does very little well. What government has done to warrant your trust and kindle some notion that government helps people I can’t imagine. Your comparison of the Taliban to the GOP is not only juvenile and out-of-touch-with-reality, but just so sad to boot. When you have no valid point to make, you simply demean the opponent. Rules for radicals will be very bad karma for the so-called Progressives, but it will be fun to watch when the reality check comes. Do you honestly think that comparing fellow citizens to the Taliban shows you have a worthwhile argument to make? Grow up.

Comments are closed.