Daily brief: floods kill over 1,100 in Pakistan

And I wonder, still I wonder Pakistani authorities estimate that over 1,100 people are dead and over 1.5 million affected in flooding that has swept across much of northern Pakistan and Kashmir, hitting the province of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa particularly hard (BBC, ET, Dawn, Hindustan Times). More rain is predicted, which could impede rescue efforts for the ...

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

And I wonder, still I wonder

Pakistani authorities estimate that over 1,100 people are dead and over 1.5 million affected in flooding that has swept across much of northern Pakistan and Kashmir, hitting the province of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa particularly hard (BBC, ET, Dawn, Hindustan Times). More rain is predicted, which could impede rescue efforts for the tens of thousands of Pakistanis and tourists cut off in the Swat Valley and elsewhere (AFP, MSNBC). The Chief Minister for Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa told reporters, "We are facing the worst-ever natural disaster in our history that has pushed the province almost 50 years back" (Dawn).

The Pakistani army has contributed 30,000 troops as well as dozens of helicopters to the relief efforts, and the United States has pledged $10 million, 50,000 meals, helicopters, portable bridges, and water-filtration units to affected areas (Wash Post, ET, AFP, BBC, Daily Times). Still, local residents and aid workers attacked the Pakistani response for being slow and ineffective, and some have expressed concern that militant organizations will fill the aid gap, especially in areas that have already seen fighting between extremists and the Pakistani army (NYT, Wash Post). Flash floods have also killed at least 65 in Afghanistan, where the Afghan Air Force has been flying helicopter rescue missions (AFP).

And I wonder, still I wonder

Pakistani authorities estimate that over 1,100 people are dead and over 1.5 million affected in flooding that has swept across much of northern Pakistan and Kashmir, hitting the province of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa particularly hard (BBC, ET, Dawn, Hindustan Times). More rain is predicted, which could impede rescue efforts for the tens of thousands of Pakistanis and tourists cut off in the Swat Valley and elsewhere (AFP, MSNBC). The Chief Minister for Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa told reporters, "We are facing the worst-ever natural disaster in our history that has pushed the province almost 50 years back" (Dawn).

The Pakistani army has contributed 30,000 troops as well as dozens of helicopters to the relief efforts, and the United States has pledged $10 million, 50,000 meals, helicopters, portable bridges, and water-filtration units to affected areas (Wash Post, ET, AFP, BBC, Daily Times). Still, local residents and aid workers attacked the Pakistani response for being slow and ineffective, and some have expressed concern that militant organizations will fill the aid gap, especially in areas that have already seen fighting between extremists and the Pakistani army (NYT, Wash Post). Flash floods have also killed at least 65 in Afghanistan, where the Afghan Air Force has been flying helicopter rescue missions (AFP).

The poor weather also hampered efforts to recover the black boxes, found Saturday, from Pakistan’s worst ever plane crash outside of Islamabad (AFP, AJE, BBC). And eight more have been killed in the latest politically-motivated violence in Karachi (Dawn, ET, Daily Times).

A tale of two visits

Reacting to remarks last Wednesday from British Prime Minister David Cameron that Pakistan should not be allowed to "promote the export" of terrorism, the head of Pakistani intelligence Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha canceled his trip to the United Kingdom, scheduled for this week (AP, CNN, Guardian, Telegraph). The remark drew angry criticism from a wide spectrum of Pakistanis, and the Pakistani government summoned Britain’s high commissioner to Pakistan in order to discuss the remarks (Guardian). However, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari reportedly plans to meet with Cameron at the latter’s country house as planned, despite calls from opposition parties to cancel the trip (Guardian, FT, BBC).

Pakistani security forces reportedly killed 15 militants in Orakzai agency this morning (Dawn). And in a television interview U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates hinted that the United States might consider incursions into Pakistan to attack the Haqqani Network (Dawn).

The first to go

The Netherlands began pulling out their 1,900 combat troops in Afghanistan Sunday, becoming the first NATO country to do so (AJE, Reuters, VOA, NYT). The Dutch contingent, mostly based in the central Uruzgan province, became well-known for attempting to connect with local leaders, and sometimes patrolled without body armor and on bicycles. The deployment which began in 2006 was deeply unpopular at home, and brought down the Dutch government in February when debate began on extending the Dutch mission (AP)

The Dutch withdrawal will increase the burden on U.S. ground troops, who now make up roughly two thirds of the international force in Afghanistan (LAT). However, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates this weekend said the U.S. would only withdraw a small number of troops after the July 2011 deadline (AP, CNN).Gates also further criticized the website WikiLeaks for putting soldiers and Afghans in danger, as a former hacker reports that Army Pfc. Bradley Manning may have had help from an MIT student and one other in the Boston Area in leaking classified information to the site (NYT, CNN, NYT, CBC, Wash Post).

Reports indicate that the status of the British offensive into the Nad-i-Ali district of Helmand province is "relatively good" as local officials welcomed the British back amid fear that they would soon be leaving and simmering anger at purported Pakistani support for the Taliban (Telegraph, Telegraph). And according to Newsweek the residents of Nad-i-Ali are not the only ones who distrust Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan; the Afghan Taliban also harbor suspicions of Pakistani intentions (Newsweek).

Multiple protests

Protesters marched through Kabul this weekend, spurred on by a car accident allegedly caused by DynCorp contractors in addition to an air raid last week believed to have killed dozens of civilians (Wash Post). After the crash Friday, which was believed to have killed 4 Afghans, hundreds of rioters torched the contractors’ car, and three contractors were injured (Guardian). Despite the contradictory reports, the Afghan police cleared the contractors of fault and said the accident was caused by an Afghan, and that only one civilian was killed (NYT).

The protests come as the new commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, has reportedly "clarified" the restrictive guidelines around ordering airstrikes, easing restrictions on strikes against abandoned buildings and other structures (WSJ). And as counterinsurgency struggles, U.S. forces are reportedly turning more towards a strategy of targeted killings of Taliban leaders in Afghanistan (NYT).This as the U.N. Security Council removed five former Taliban leaders from a blacklist, including a former Taliban ambassador to the U.N. and former ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Zaeef; however, two of those removed are already dead (RFI, Daily Times, BBC).

Elsewhere a minibus struck a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, killing six Afghan civilians (AFP, AP). Also in the south, a suicide bomber targeting a government official killed five children instead (AP). A bomb attack in Jalalabad wounded an adviser to Afghan President Hamid Karzai (Pajhwok). And a suicide bomber killed a pro-government militia leader and two others in Kunduz (AP).

Flashpoint

Clashes between Indian security forces and Kashmiris continued for the third straight day Sunday in Indian-administered Kashmir, with at least nine civilians dying over the weekend (VOA, BBC, AFP, Daily Times). The Indian government placed the region under "indefinite curfew" after confrontations Saturday, and banned two T.V. stations for broadcasting "provocative programmes" favorable to Kashmiri nationalists (VOA, AP, NDTV).

Stylish opportunity

In an effort to provide opportunities for young boys and girls in the restive and underdeveloped province of Balochistan, the Pakistani military this month founded the Balochistan Institute of Technical Education in Quetta (Daily Times). Subjects taught include auto electronics, mechanics, sewing, knitting, and "beauty."

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