Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – August 27, 2010
TTP spokesman says presence of foreign aid workers “unacceptable”, hints at attacks; flood waters have displaced one million people in Sindh since Wednesday; countries, international aid organizations reject President Zardari’s request for direct aid to Pakistan; militant group offers amnesty for U.S. “spies” in North Waziristan.
On Thursday, the spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Azam Tariq, called the presence of foreign flood relief workers “unacceptable” as he continued to hint that these aid personnel might soon become the target of TTP attacks. Tariq said that “on the face [these aid workers] are talking of relief and help” but claimed that “behind the scenes they have certain intentions” before saying that “one can draw one’s own conclusions” about how the TTP might respond to what it sees as unacceptable. U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said that his relief workers “will not be deterred from doing what we believe we need to do” but added that his organization will take these threats seriously and is prepared to “take appropriate precautions” to minimize the danger to its personnel. A spokesman for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said that despite the threats his organization is continuing its operations normally and is even increasing its flood response efforts.
U.N. officials indicated on Friday that more than one million people have been displaced in Thatta and Qambar-Shahdadkot districts of Sindh since Wednesday as flood waters continue to cause widespread devastation in the southern part of the country. A senior Pakistani government official said that around 175,000 residents of Thatta city (70-percent of the population) have left their homes overnight. Meanwhile, fresh rains in Sibi and Ziarat districts and a breach in the Tori dyke led to the destruction of more villages in Balochistan. On Friday, a spokesman for Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority warned that the death toll from the flood disaster is expected to rise “significantly” from the current estimates of 1,600 once flood waters recede and the bodies of missing flood victims can be recovered. (For maps, graphs, and key data on the floods in Pakistan CLICK HERE)
An article in the New York Times examines the crippling effect that Pakistan’s floods have had on the country’s infrastructure which could be set back by “many years, if not decades.” Commander Iqbal Zahid, the officer in charge of the Pakistani Navy’s rescue operations, said that “the infrastructure all the way from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to Sindh is ruined” and “will take years to rebuild.” The government’s official assessment of the flood damage estimates that more than 5,000 miles of roads and railways, 7,000 schools, and 400 health facilities have been washed away in the floods. The damage has been particularly severe in the northern parts of the country, including areas of Swat Valley which was still being rebuilt following the military’s counterinsurgency operation last year.
Representatives of various countries and international aid organizations have rejected a request made by President Asif Ali Zardari via a U.N. press release to channel flood aid directly to Pakistan. The rejection came on Thursday as President Zardari and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met with envoys of the U.S., U.K., E.U., Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and representatives of several international relief agencies to discuss current flood relief activities. One western diplomat anonymously said that “it is not possible for us to give direct aid to the Pakistan government. We have our own system to deliver aid. We want every dollar to be used appropriately.”
Pakistani Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said on Thursday that Pakistan wants to “stay on track” with its current loan program with the International Monetary Fund. Shaikh’s statement came as the IMF also said on Thursday that it will ease the terms of its Pakistan loan and would also consider delivering more immediate assistance to help with Pakistan’s flood recovery after conducting an assessment of the floods “impact on the budget, growth and inflation and what the appropriate response would be in that context.”
- A Taliban-linked group calling itself the Ittehad Mujahideen Khurasaan distributed pamphlets in North Waziristan on Thursday to announce a general amnesty for “spies” and collaborators of the U.S. and Pakistan Army as a “gesture of respect for Ramadan.” Masked men handed out the Urdu language pamphlets to residents of Miramshah and said that they would “guarantee that no harm will be caused to those who stopped spying on the mujahideen” as long as the individuals in question have not had any role in bombings or drone attacks against the Taliban.
- On Thursday, the U.S. State Department launched a new appeal for donations to help the victims of Pakistan’s devastating flood disaster. A message appearing on the home page of the State Department’s website said that sending cash donations rather than sending goods was a better way to help the flood relief effort. The State Department has also set up a system for collecting donations from the public via text messages.
- On Thursday, a total of three NATO oil tankers came under attack by militants during separate incidents in the Quetta, Kalat, and Mastung areas of central Balochistan. Thousands of liters of oil were lost between the three attacks but no injuries or loss of life was reported. Separately, two people were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion in Khuzdar district while a child was killed and five others were injured in a grenade attack on Wednesday night which targeted a home in Panjgur.
- One person was killed in a bomb blast at a restaurant in the town of Mansehra on Friday. Local police chief Mohammed Sajjad said that an investigation into the incident is currently underway.