Pakistan to clamp down on Islamist militant charities in flood areas

By Reuters Staff
August 24, 2010

sukkur food line

(Photo: Flood victims wait for food handouts in a relief camp in Sukkur, August 20, 2010/Akhtar Soomro)

Pakistan has said  it will clamp down on charities linked to Islamist militants amid fears their involvement in flood relief could exploit anger against the government and undermine the fight against groups like the Taliban.  Islamist charities have moved swiftly to fill the vacuum left by a government overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster and struggling to reach millions of people in dire need of shelter, food and drinking water.

It would not be the first time the government has announced restrictions against charities tied to militant groups, but critics say banned organisations often re-emerge with new names and authorities are not serious about stopping them.

“The banned organisations are not allowed to visit flood-hit areas,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Reuters on Friday. “We will arrest members of banned organisations collecting funds and will try them under the Anti-Terrorism Act.” More than 4 million Pakistanis have been made homeless by nearly three weeks of floods, making urgent the critical task of securing enough aid.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari warned on Thursday that militants were trying to exploit the floods to promote their agendas — as they did after a devastating earthquake in Kashmir in 2005.

Read the full story here.

pakistan flood graphic

Click on the graphic or here to enlarge the image.

For an analysis of political and economic risks to watch in Pakistan, click here.

For a slide show of our latest photos from Pakistan, click on the photo below or here.

pakistan boy

(Photo: A boy waits for an evening food handout near Nowshera, August 23, 2010/Tim Wimborne)

Here’s a video about aid pledged to Pakistan, by Jon Decker:

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