Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • EU leaders choose Tusk and Mogherini for top jobs, discuss Russia sanctions

    Read more

  • Austerity row overshadows French Socialist’s annual rally

    Read more

  • UN peacekeepers battle jihadists in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • Egypt sentences Brotherhood leader Badie to life

    Read more

  • Ceasfire allows Gaza families to relax on the beach

    Read more

  • S. Africa condemns 'military coup' in Lesotho

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Floods have put Pakistan back ‘several years’ says Gilani

Video by Yuka ROYER

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-08-09

Pakistan's navy has mobilised to aid people after the worst floods in 80 years have overwhelmed the civilian government. "Our country has gone back several years," Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said during a visit to Sindh province.

REUTERS - Pakistani navy boats travelled along kilometres of flood waters on Sunday to rescue people stranded in a disaster that has angered many over the government's response.
 
The worst floods in 80 years have killed over 1,600 people, left two million homeless, washed away crops and farm animals and overwhelmed President Asif Ali Zardari's civilian government.
 
The military, which has maintained a dominant role in foreign and security policy even during civilian rule, is leading Pakistani relief efforts, as it has done in past crises
like the 2005 earthquake.
 
Analysts do not expect the government's heavily criticised handling of the crisis to encourage the military, which has ruled for more than half of Pakistan's history, to try to seize power.


More homes and crops are likely to be swept away with heavy rain forecast to lash the country in the next 24 to 36 hours.
 
Rubber and wooden navy boats set out from areas in Sindh province, where flood waters burst from the Indus River across vast distances, to help Pakistanis who have watched safe ground shrink by the hour and waters swallow up their livestock.
 
"We have been doing this for several days," said navy officer Akhter Mahmood after his boat travelled through about 20 kilometres of flood water.
 
Women, chest-deep in water, carried chickens and clothes on their heads before entering navy boats. "I thought the waters would go away," said Sakina. "I want to come back."
 
Zardari drew fire for leaving the country for official visits in Europe during the crisis. He said the prime minister was handling the catastrophe  and informing him of developments.
 
Even though relief efforts may have improved the military's standing, and widened the perception that Pakistani civilian governments are too weak and inefficient to cope with disasters, analysts don't see any threat to the current administration.
 
The army is busy fighting Taliban insurgents and does not want to be strapped with Pakistan's enormous problems -- from costly rebuilding after the floods to the struggle to attract foreign investment in a troubled economy to widespread poverty.
 


"I don't think they are willing to dump Zardari," said Kamran Bokhari, Regional Director, Middle East and South Asia at global intelligence firm STRATFOR.
 
"The current army leadership ... is very clear that there is a war that needs to be waged."
 
Foreign aid organisations, also playing a much bigger role than the government, say weather has hampered relief efforts.
 
Floodwaters have roared down from the northwest to the agriculture heartland of Punjab and on to southern Sindh along a trail more than 1,000 km (600 miles) long.
 
The flooding, brought on by unusually strong monsoon rains, has destroyed 360,000 houses, aid groups say.
 
"I would say shelter is the biggest concern at the moment. It is the most urgent," said Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "People do need something on top their heads as soon as possible."
 
In some areas, only the tops of trees and telephone poles are visible. Pakistanis are stuck on the rooftops of their homes. Some fighting to hold on to anything they can walk waist-deep in muddy water carrying logs from their shattered homes.
 
Even before the floods, Pakistan was struggling to tame inflation that averaged 11.7 percent for the last fiscal year. In Swat Valley, one of the hardest hit areas, tomato prices have jumped from 40 rupees a kg to 140 since the floods hit.
 
"Our country has gone back several years," Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani told reporters on a visit to Sindh province.
 
In Punjab, hundreds of people were evacuated from drenched areas to a railway track on higher ground.
 
"What we are wearing is all that we have, the rest is all gone -- our house, animals, wheat we had stored, everything has been destroyed," university student Fiza Batool said as she fed her 10-year-old sister biscuits.

Date created : 2010-08-08

  • PAKISTAN

    Death toll tops 1,200 as rescuers struggle to reach flood victims

    Read more

  • PAKISTAN

    Islamists fill aid vacuum while government struggles

    Read more

  • ON THE OBSERVERS

    Pakistan authorities ‘failed to prevent flood crisis’

    Read more

COMMENT(S)