Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – August 31, 2010
Floods begin pouring into the Arabian Sea; flood victims line up outside hospitals seeking medical care; WFP warns of food shortages over the next year; General Petraeus addresses President Karzai's "legitimate" concerns about the militants' presence in Pakistan.
Floodwaters finally began flowing into the Arabian Sea on Tuesday after inundating two more villages caught in its path. Authorities said that there are now "no more town or villages in the way of the deluge" after the towns of Khahre Jamali and Jati in Sindh province were hit on Monday evening. Although Thatta city has been declared safe, over 70-percent of Sukkur is underwater as of Tuesday while other low-lying villages in the surrounding area have also been flooded.
On Tuesday, thousands of flood victims seeking medical treatment lined up outside hospitals as health workers struggled to deal with scarce resources. The majority of the patients were said to have been suffering from waterborne illnesses such as gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and skin and eye infections and UN health expert have warned that other diseases such as typhoid, malaria, and dengue fever are likely to crop up in the near future. 
The executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), Josette Sheeran, called the flood disaster "one of the greatest catastrophes which the WFP has had to handle" as Pakistan is looking at a year of food shortages and high food prices due to the flooding which has damaged about 14-percent of Pakistan's total cultivated land. On Monday, Sheeran also announced that the WFP is doubling its helicopter fleet in Pakistan from five to ten in order to ensure the continuous supply of food to flood victims.
A large number of flood victims in need of cash are reportedly selling their food rations to middlemen who have taken up shop outside of aid warehouses. The report continues to fuel the debate about whether aid agencies should distribute either relief goods or money to flood refugees, both of which have the potential for financial misuse. Refugees displaced by the flooding have also set up camps along the median of the highway between Peshawar and Islamabad in the hopes of receiving aid from passing motorists.
On Monday, President Asif Ali Zardari called for collective efforts to work towards flood rehabilitation and reconstruction after touring several relief camps in the flood-affected areas throughout Sindh. The president said that around $11.7 million (Rs 1 billion) has been had been to flood victims in Sindh so far and that another $11.7 million would soon be distributed as well.
The Pakistani government is considering asking the International Monetary Fund for a one-year moratorium on its $1.2 billion loan repayment due to the financial pressures created from the country's devastating flood disaster. Other potential options include either extending the current program for six months to one year or negotiating for a new short-term financing program.
War in Afghanistan
- On Tuesday, General David Petraeus said that Afghan President Hamid Karzai's push for the war in Afghanistan to shift its focus towards dealing with militant commanders in Pakistan was a "legitimate concern." However, Petraeus also recognized Pakistan's "impressive counterinsurgency campaign" over the past 18 months and said that the presence of militants in its tribal areas doesn't indicate that the government of Pakistan has abandoned the U.S. war strategy in Afghanistan. Karzai's government has expressed increasing frustration in recent days regarding the presence of Taliban and al-Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan and National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta's previously said that U.S. support for Pakistan was equivalent to nurturing the terrorists' "main mentor."
- Frontier Corps and Khassadar forces launched a joint operation against militants in Khyber Agency's Bara sub-district on Tuesday, sparking off clashes that left five militants dead and three security personnel injured. The fighting broke out when security forces were conducting clearing operations of the cave system in the Mangoti Ghar area where the militants were taking refuge. Security forces also demolished the houses of two militant commanders in Bara. On Sunday evening, two security personnel were wounded when militants fired mortars at checkposts in the Dojangi area of Mohmand Agency. Artillery and helicopter gunships were later used to shell militant positions in the Shandra, Shamshah, Ghalanai, and Jarobi Dara areas.
- India has reportedly extended an additional $20 million aid offer to Pakistan for flood relief in addition to its previous pledge of $5 million. However, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said on Tuesday that he was not aware of any such offer from India.
- Two NATO oil tankers were set on fire during separate attacks in the Mastung and Khuzdar areas of Balochistan on Monday. In the attack in Mastung, unidentified gunmen stopped the tanker in the Gunjadori area and forced the driver from the truck before lighting it on fire, completely destroying the vehicle. The other tanker, which was attacked in the Chamroke area of Khuzdar, was also destroyed under similar circumstances.