Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – August 13, 2010
World Bank pledges $900 million for flood relief and reconstruction; around 200,000 people cut off and starving in Upper Swat as flooding threatens new areas of Sindh; military says flood relief efforts will not have an impact on the fight against militants; Secretary of State Clinton reassures Pakistani people as Senator Kerry prepares for Pakistan visit; U.S.S. Peleliu arrives off coast of Karachi.
The World Bank announced on Thursday that it would commit $900 million dollars for flood relief and reconstruction in Pakistan. Representatives from the World Bank also indicated that the organization is planning to conduct a damage and needs assessment next week to determine the country’s future financial needs while a $1.3 million grant has been made available for immediate food relief. On Friday, World Bank President Robert Zoellick indicated that around $1 billion worth of crops have been destroyed by the flooding. U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on Saturday to visit flood-affected areas and try to facilitate increased aid efforts in the country. The U.N. has called for $460 million dollars for short term flood relief and expects long term reconstruction costs to be in the billions but only $175 million has been pledged so far.
An estimated 200,000 people are stranded in Upper Swat and are reportedly on the brink of starvation as food and other supplies are quickly running out. The flood’s destruction of the area’s roads has left villages in Upper Swat cut off from the rest of the country for the past two weeks. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah warned on Friday that the flooding in the province is reportedly heading towards the city of Jacobabad and authorities are advising residents to evacuate the area. Water levels are beginning to lower at the Sukkur Barrage while floodwaters are continuing to rise at the Kotri Barrage and at dykes in Larkana.
Aid agencies continue to voice their concerns that disease outbreaks pose a grave risk to flood survivors. Fever and diarrhea are already quickly spreading among the millions of flood victims who have extremely limited access to adequate medical care. Jacque de Maio, head of operations for South Asia at the International Committee of the Red Cross, told reporters that “there are millions of people needing food, clean water, and medical care and they need it right now” and that “the overall relief effort cannot keep pace with the scale of the emergency.”
Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said on Friday that “the involvement of [Pakistani] troops in relief activities will have no impact on [Pakistan’s] fight against militants” and that around 60,000 troops have been deployed for flood rescue and relief operations out of a total of 550,000 soldiers. Abbas further said that the military was “mindful” of their current counterinsurgency operations when it “carried out deployment for relief activities” and doubted that “that there will be any need to withdraw troops from the western border.” Another senior security official claimed that most troops deployed as a part of flood relief efforts were from units based in the flood areas and that the mountainous areas in the northwest where military operations are taking place have been largely unaffected by the flooding.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday reassured the Pakistani people that their nation would overcome the flood crisis which has devastated the countryside and that the U.S. would continue to stand by them. Clinton quoted the sister of the nation’s founder, Fatimah Jinnah by saying that the story of Pakistan was a story of “the ideals of equality, fraternity and social and economic justice”, adding that “the Pakistani people will continue to write the story that began 63 years ago.” Senator John Kerry, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and co-author of the $7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar bill, is also scheduled to visit Pakistan next week. Senator Kerry will be the first senior U.S. official to visit Pakistan since the flooding began.
On Thursday, a U.S. court changed the sentencing date for Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani scientist convicted of attempting to kill U.S. security personnel in Afghanistan. Elaine Sharp, Siddiqui’s lawyer, told reporters that “the sentencing has been postponed until September 23.” The initial sentencing date was scheduled for August 16.
The U.S.S. Peleliu arrived off the coast of Pakistan near Karachi on Thursday carrying 1,000 U.S. Marines and two-dozen helicopters to bolster Pakistan’s flood relief efforts. U.S. Consul General William Martin said that the ship’s arrival “speaks of the commitment of US President Obama and the American people to provide assistance to the Pakistani people during this catastrophe.”
- Three policemen have been killed in Quetta by two unknown gunmen riding motorcycles. The shooting occurred near a stadium on Sairab road. Authorities have launched an investigation into the incident and claim that suspects have already been taken into custody.