The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: floodwaters to stay until the end of August

Internship opportunity: The New America Foundation’s Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative is looking for qualified and motivated interns for the fall semester. More information can be found here. Unwelcome news The U.N. announced yesterday that up to 4 million people have been made homeless as a result of flooding in Pakistan, as increased aid struggles to keep ...

Internship opportunity: The New America Foundation’s Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative is looking for qualified and motivated interns for the fall semester. More information can be found here.

Unwelcome news

The U.N. announced yesterday that up to 4 million people have been made homeless as a result of flooding in Pakistan, as increased aid struggles to keep up with demand and Pakistan’s top meteorologist said the floodwaters would not fully recede until the end of this month (Reuters, AP, NYT, BBC, ET).

The U.N. will convene a conference today to push governments to give more to Pakistan’s relief effort, and the U.N. official in charge of the response to the 2004 tsunami said of the response, "[i]t’s been abysmal, it’s been terrible. There is no relationship between the number of people in acute need of help and what has actually been provided in this first month" (AP, BBC, Wash Post, Daily Times, NYT). Disease continues to break out among those displaced by flooding, especially children (Reuters, Dawn, ET).

The United States has increased its aid to Pakistan to $90 million, as Senator John Kerry, currently in Pakistan to tour flooded areas and meet with officials, said that number would climb to $150 million (NYT, VOA, ET, Guardian, Dawn). Saudi Arabia has pledged to give $107 million to the relief effort, with $5 million to be in cash and the rest in material relief goods (ET, Guardian). And the Asian Development Bank will give Pakistan a $2 billion assistance package, though with no indication of how much will be in grants and how much will be loans (Reuters, Dawn).

A Pakistani health official testified yesterday that relief operations were not possible in the area around Jacobabad in Sindh province because the United States controls the airbase there, presumably for launching drone strikes (Dawn).

Police in Sindh have arrested two alleged members of the banned group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in relation to the killing of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) parliamentarian Raza Haider, whose death August 2 sparked a wave of killings in Karachi (ET). And Pakistani militants continued to attack police posts in northwest Pakistan yesterday (Tel).

Going hungry

A British risk-consulting firm has ranked Afghanistan as the least food-secure country in the world, with the next 11 countries behind it all in Africa (Bloomberg, AFP). Afghanistan’s poverty, ongoing conflict, and food production problems in other countries all contributed to the ranking (CNN, Guardian).

A suicide bomber killed a district police commander in Kandahar province along with three other officers, while in Zabul province gunmen killed a respected tribal elder and government official (NYT). Protests also continued in response to a disputed raid that killed two Afghans, with Afghan security forces disputing the U.S.’ assertion that the men killed were Taliban. And in a series of incidents Taliban attacked a road crew in Helmand province this morning, killing several, U.S. forces killed 12 fighters in Logar province including a local Taliban commander, and in eastern Afghanistan NATO and Afghan forces killed three members of the Pakistani group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, believed to be linked to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (AP).

The Afghan government announced yesterday that it would recruit thousands of local militiamen to serve in southern Afghanistan, with the program to eventually extend to the rest of the country (AFP). And the U.S. military said yesterday that 1,300 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were "detonated or defused" in Afghanistan in July 2010, a record high number (USA Today).

The organization WikiLeaks and the Pentagon are disputing each others’ statements after a WikiLeaks spokesperson said Wednesday that the Pentagon had agreed to negotiate to help redact names from a final batch of unreleased classified documents (AFP, AP, NYT). Saying the U.S. military has a responsibility to protect those mentioned in the documents, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman countered, "we are not going to negotiate minimizing or sanitizing classified documents.  They are property of the United States government and they should be returned and removed from the website" (VOA).

And 20 years after Soviet forces departed Afghanistan, Russia is attempting to renew and build fresh ties with Afghanistan, at a regional conference in Moscow that included Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari (NYT, CNN, AP).

Flashpoint

India accused Pakistan of firing at its troops from across the Line of Control in Kashmir, though no one was killed in the fire or ensuing retaliation (BBC). Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Christiane Amanpour yesterday that militants, not India, are the main threat facing Pakistan (ABC). And Lydia Polgreen has a dispatch from Indian-held Kashmir, detailing the ongoing challenge to India’s government and self-image posed by pro-independence protesters in Kashmir (NYT).

What’s the deal with airline magazines?

While most airline magazines offer fluff and unoriginal content, the magazine for Safi Airways, which flies between Kabul and Frankfurt, Dubai and Kuwait, tries to offer an unvarnished picture of Afghanistan (WSJ). The German-edited magazine discusses suicide bombings, dog fighting, Kabul dining, and features ads for war-zone car repair services and armor plating.

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