Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Pakistan’s army has said it won’t be diverting forces from the fight against Islamist militants while it helps deal with the country’s worst floods in 80 years . Troops who were on training have been called back to lead the flood relief effort, leaving those deployed on the Afghan front to continue operations against militants, the army said.
But with the floods devastating the trunk of Pakistan running from the northwest to Sind, through the growthengine of Punjab, disrupting the lives of an estimated 20 million people - which is 12 percent of the population – and delivering a serious blow to an already enfeebled economy, it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be any impact on the deadly, costly battle to win back ground from the extremists, bothinside Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is hard enough for any nation to fight a war such as the one Pakistan is engaged in, willingly or otherwise, against an enemy that it once nurtured. But to be at war when a third of the land is affected by the most devastating floods yet, crops worth a $1 billion are damaged in a country in a country where agriculture is the mainstay and popular anger is running high, calls for nerves of steel. And all this when it is already on a $11.3 billion IMF bailout programme whose stringent conditions Pakistan was struggling to meet even before the floods struck.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, underscored the scale of the disaster, calling it a challenge similar to the one that marked the birth of Pakistan when the bloody partition of the subcontinent in 1947 led to the flight of an estimated 10 million people, perhaps the greatest migration in human history.
Noted Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid said all of Pakistan’s four wars with India, including the 1999 faceoff in Kargil, did not cause the kind of damage that the floods have unleashed. The disaster, he wrote in the Daily Telegraph, presents an unparalleled national security challenge for the country, the region and the international community.