Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – August 18, 2010
UN, EU, and OIC extend more aid for Pakistan flood relief but assistance is not reaching aid organizations fast enough; Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa allows donors to provide direct aid to flood victims; civilian government faces embarrassment over flood response as military gains increased public support; militants launch attacks in Peshawar.
The UN announced that it has collected nearly half of the $459 million requested to fund flood relief efforts in Pakistan but said that much of the aid is arriving too slowly and that relief agencies are quickly running out of the necessary resources to help those affected by the flooding. Aid organizations are citing the limited media coverage and low death toll of the disaster in addition to public perceptions of the Pakistani government’s corruption and inefficiency as reasons for the slow reception of aid.
The European Union also announced that it will provide an additional 39 million dollars for flood relief, bringing its total aid commitments to just over 90 million dollars. The EU’s humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva is scheduled to visit with government authorities, relief workers, and flood victims in Pakistan on Monday. The Organization of the Islamic Conference also held an emergency meeting to call for the “international community in general and Islamic world in particular” to extend urgently needed assistance to Pakistan. An OIC spokesman also confirmed that the Islamic Development Bank has allocated $11.2 million for flood relief.
On Tuesday, the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa offered to allow donor countries and organizations to directly deliver relief supplies to help alleviate the suffering of the province’s four million flood victims. Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain warned that the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were in “dire need of food, clean drinking water, shelter and medicine” and made an appeal for “donors, NGOs and philanthropists to play their role to avert starvation and epidemics in the region.”
The Pakistani government faced severe embarrassment when it was reported that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's recent visits to several “medical camps” had been staged photo opportunities. The report alleges that a camp Gilani visited in Dera Ismail Khan on Tuesday had been hastily constructed in the morning and was then torn down after Gilani spent a few minutes speaking to flood victims on camera. Meanwhile, the military has reportedly “improved its stature” with the Pakistani public since it is seen as the only domestic institution capable of providing effective flood relief in the wake of the civilian government’s numerous failures.
Water levels at the Sukkur and Kotri barrages were shown to have increased on Tuesday while the water level at Guddu decreased. Although Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo said that there was no threat to Sukkur city, the rising water levels present a possible danger to the cities of Hyderabad, Naushahro, Nawabshah, and Thatta.
- Militants launched a series of attacks in Peshawar targeting police and members of an anti-Taliban militia. Dozens of militants from Khyber Agency attacked a police post in the Sarband area. No police casualties were reported during the exchange of fire but Peshawar police chief Liaqat Ali Khan claimed that several militants were killed. The attack was preceded by the killing of two members of an anti-Taliban militia on Tuesday evening. The two men were gunned down by a group of militants while on their way to attend prayers at a local mosque.
- On Tuesday, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, said that the U.S. has complete “confidence in the government’s ability to deliver” when it comes to the effective use of flood relief money. The total value of U.S. aid commitments to flood relief assistance in Pakistan currently amounts to $87 million. Patterson also said that reports about extremist groups using their relief efforts to garner support among flood victims were “extremely exaggerated.”
- President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai attended a summit meeting hosted by Russian President Dimitry Medvedev to discuss the coordination of efforts to improve the security situation in Afghanistan. During the meeting, Zardari said that the world “should stand together” in its “support of the Afghan people.” A spokesman for President Karzai also said that Karzai and Zardari had held bilateral talks prior to the summit and that more details on their discussion would be given later.
- Karachi was gripped by protests and violence on Tuesday following a recent wave of sectarian killings. The protests closed down shops and public transportation in several areas of the city while several buses were torched in the Golimar and Nazimabad areas. The public outcry came in the aftermath of the murders of the son of a Shia cleric on Monday night and a Deobandi cleric on Tuesday morning.