Pakistan flooding stirs U.S. fears
Pakistan’s worst floods in 80 years are increasing worries in Washington that the disaster will undermine the South Asian nation’s political stability and jeopardize U.S. gains across the border in Afghanistan.
“If Pakistan were to face a serious threat internally, either because of natural disasters or as was the case a year ago because of an onslaught by the [Pakistani Taliban] in Swat and its northwest, it would make it almost impossible to succeed in Afghanistan,” said Vali Nasr, a senior adviser to Richard C. Holbrooke, U.S. special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The flood has had the greatest impact on local governance.
While the death toll has been relatively low — around 1,500 people have died — health and humanitarian workers are worried about the consequences of an epidemic of waterborne diseases.
Pakistan has lost a sizable share of its export crops; its food supply has been hit and infrastructure, including bridges, canals and roads, has been washed away.
Vital operations against militants entrenched along the border with Afghanistan have also been affected.
“There was certainly a hope that 2010 would show a clear shift of momentum across Afghanistan,” he said.
Pakistan’s military is now expected to put on hold planned operations in North Waziristan as it is preoccupied with providing flood relief.
The Pakistani military has diverted close to 70,000 troops to disaster areas.
Mr. Karamat said the Pakistani military’s “limited aviation assets,” which were being used against militants, have also been deployed to help flood victims.
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