Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – August 25, 2010
Flood waters have disrupted supply routes to Afghanistan; UN issues urgent appeal for more helicopters to aid stranded flood victims; Pakistani authorities close down relief camps in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa run by organizations with links to militant groups; oil tankers blown up in Landi Kotal.
The flooding in Pakistan has disrupted the main supply routes for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Flood waters have either inundated or destroyed the usual supply lines which lead to the Afghan border at Chaman in Balochistan or to Dera Ismail Khan via the Indus Highway. Vehicles transporting supplies and military vehicles have been forced to take much longer alternate routes from Karachi to Islamabad then through Peshawar to the Afghan border, a route which has been slowed by severe traffic jams.
On Tuesday, UN officials made an urgent appeal for more helicopters to deliver critical relief supplies to the estimated 800,000 people who are in desperate need of aid and have been cut off by the flooding. Pakistani authorities are battling rising flood waters in southern Sindh as a “super flood” has swept through the area and is expected to continue to threaten Hyderabad and its surrounding areas for the next three days. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani continues to voice his concerns about the spread of disease and said that more than 3.5 million children in the flood affected areas are at serious risk of cholera, malaria, gastroenteritis, and other diseases which are potentially deadly if left untreated. These concerns have also been echoed by the UN, which is reporting that the rate of infectious diseases among flood victims is on the rise.
An unusual press release from the UN International Telecommunication Union has requested that donors who want to “assist flood-affected victims” wire their money directly either to the National Bank of Pakistan or to Switzerland’s UBS AG. These donations would not undergo any of the monitoring safeguards that are typically in effect for the UN’s collection and distribution of humanitarian aid funding. Although experts initially doubted the authenticity of the press release, an ITU spokesman has said that the appeal was issued at the request of the Pakistani government and that the ITU’s donation program is separate from the UN’s consolidation of $459 million for flood relief assistance. Domestically, several of Pakistan’s rich and famous have also announced major contributions towards helping with flood relief.
Extremist-linked Flood Relief Camps
- Pakistani officials have said that at least 16 relief camps which were being run by militant organizations have been shut down. A spokesman for Falah-e-Insaniat (FeI), a front organization for Jamaat-ud-Dawa which in turn has been linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, confirmed that his group had been ordered to close one of their camps in Pir Sabak near the town of Nowshera.” The closures come as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti warned on Tuesday that government failures to address the immediate needs of flood victims could boost support for militants and “pose a major regional security threat.” For a map showing known locations of camps run by FeI CLICK HERE.
- The top official of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Rajiv Shah, has said that Pakistan will need to show that it can effectively and transparently spend relief funds if it wants to receive more aid funding. Shah said that due to the tough economic times “it will require a demonstration of real transparency and accountability and that resources spent in Pakistan get results" to convince nations to donate. Shah’s statements came as the U.S. announced that it will divert $50 million from its existing $7.5 billion development package to Pakistan to contribute towards relief efforts.
- An explosive device was detonated at a parking lot in Landi Kotal on Tuesday, completely destroying at least three oil tankers bound for U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan. The explosion occurred in the border town of Torkhum where around 100 oil tankers and container trucks were parked at the time. Separately, two people were killed when militants attacked two more oil tankers in Landi Kotal on Monday.
- On Wednesday, a provincial leader of the Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao was shot to death in Balochistan by unknown gunmen riding a motorcycle. The victim, Mustafa Khursani, was sitting in a grocery shop in his hometown of Soorab when the attackers opened fire. Police have said that the motive behind the shooting is unclear and that no group has yet claimed responsibility for Khursani’s murder.
- Police officials in Karachi have said that four workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and two of their aides have been booked for the targeted killings of an Awami National Party (ANP) leader last week. The announcement comes as tensions have reportedly risen between the top officials of the MQM and the ANP.