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Brutal Floods Hammer Pakistan

Unrelenting flooding has swept away villages and upended millions of lives.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
Girls paddle through a flooded street in Pakistan.
Girls paddle through a flooded street in Pakistan.
Girls on an improvised raft paddle through a flooded street after heavy monsoon rains in Karachi, Pakistan, on July 26. RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re following Pakistan’s deadly floods, U.S. warships in the Taiwan Strait, and the world this week.

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Pakistan’s Floods Take a Heavy Toll

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re following Pakistan’s deadly floods, U.S. warships in the Taiwan Strait, and the world this week.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Pakistan’s Floods Take a Heavy Toll

Pakistan has been in the throes of a humanitarian emergency as extreme flooding sweeps away entire villages and upends millions of lives, further straining a country already embroiled in political and economic turmoil.

As floods decimate the countrys infrastructure and swallow up roads, more than 1,000 people have died since mid-June. Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s top climate official, said the deluge is “the worst humanitarian disaster of this decade” and could leave as much as one-third of the country under water.

“Pakistan has never seen unrelenting torrential rains like this. This is very far from a normal monsoon,” Rehman told the Guardian. “It is a climate dystopia at our doorstep.”

With the help of the military and rescue workers, nearly 500,000 people are now in relief camps, in some cases after being rescued in bed frames anchored to ropes. But many people still remain stranded and in need of food and supplies while more than 33 million people have been impacted by the floods. Tens of thousands of livestock have died.

Intense precipitation and the resulting floods can be linked to climate change, which shapes weather patterns that increase the likelihood of extreme flooding, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. It also fits into a trend of extreme weather ravaging Asia, as FP’s Mary Yang reported.

But in Pakistan, this climate nightmare is exhausting a population already experiencing political and economic tumult. Months of high inflation and exorbitant levels of debt have fueled economic uncertainty, and just last week, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was charged under Pakistans antiterrorism laws.

Amid the country’s mounting economic troubles, the International Monetary Fund is expected to pass a $1.2 billion package this week to aid its recovery. In an interview with Reuters, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pleaded for financial support and said he believed the floodings economic fallout could exceed $4 billion.

“Despite the fact that Pakistan contributes negligible amounts to the overall carbon footprint,” he told Reuters, “we are devastated by climate disasters such as these time and time again, and we have to adapt within our limited resources, however we can, to live in this new environment.”


The World This Week

Monday, Aug. 29: French President Emmanuel Macron meets Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

International Day Against Nuclear Tests is held.

Tuesday, Aug. 30: Turkey celebrates its Victory Day.

One year ago today, the last U.S. troops left Afghanistan.

Wednesday, Aug. 31: U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelets term ends.

Malaysia celebrates its Independence Day.

Thursday, Sept. 1: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is due to appear before the countrys anti-terrorism court.

Friday, Sept. 2: Brazils presidential candidates take part in a televised debate.

Vietnam celebrates its National Day.


What We’re Following Today

Taiwan tensions. Two U.S. warships have entered the Taiwan Strait for the first time since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan in early August. Beijing, which has previously warned Washington against such actions, said it was monitoring the ships.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement. “The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.”

Libya’s deadly clashes. Fighting erupted between rival militias in Tripoli, Libya, on Saturday, killing at least 30 people and injuring more than a hundred others. The clashes sparked fears of a resurgence of sustained violence after months of stalemate.


Keep an Eye On 

New Arctic pivot? The United States has announced plans to appoint an Arctic ambassador, just days after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned of a “significant Russian military buildup” in the region and pointed toward deepening Russian-Chinese ties.

“Beijing and Moscow have also pledged to intensify practical cooperation in the Arctic,” Stoltenberg said. “This forms part of a deepening strategic partnership that challenges our values and interests.”

Ocean protection. Governments have failed to agree on and pass a key U.N. treaty to protect sea life after two weeks of negotiations ended in deadlock over financial support for developing nations and fishing guidelines. Talks are expected to continue next year.


Sunday’s Most Read

• “Why Can’t Sweden Sell Its Fighter Jets?by Elisabeth Braw

• “International Relations Theory Suggests Great-Power War Is Comingby Matthew Kroenig 

• “You Have No Idea How Bad Europe’s Energy Crisis Isby Christina Lu


Odds and Ends 

Effective modes of river transportation include boats, kayaks, and giant pumpkins, as one American man proved this weekend.

In an effort to break the world record for distance traveled while drifting in a pumpkin, 60-year-old Duane Hansen floated down the Missouri River in one that weighed 846 pounds. His successful 38-mile voyage shattered the previous record, although it’s unclear if Guinness World Records will recognize his feat.

Hansens inspiration, it turns out, was the previous record-holder. “I was at a giant pumpkin-growing seminar, a three-day seminar in Portland, Oregon, and I met this lady that had the record. At the time, it was 25-something miles. And I asked her a lot of questions, and that’s when I decided I wanted to do this,” he told News Channel Nebraska.

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

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