The Taliban claimed responsibility for the latest suicide attack, whcih killed 19 people. Today the group threatened to continue to target Pakistani security forces with suicide attacks. This comes at a time when Pakistan is still struggling to recover from massive flooding, which has killed more than 1500 people and destroyed infrastructure and agriculture. Issam Ahmed, reporter for the Christian Science Monitor is in South Punjab, one of the regions that has been hit worst by the flood. He says that the government is taking the Taliban's theat very seriously and describes the mood of the country. "When the state can't protect its own people, you have that ongoing fear that they could strike at any time," he says.
Pakistan's Taliban hinted on Thursday that they may attack humanitarian workers who are helping to provide relief to more than eight million people affected by catastrophic flooding. "No relief is reaching the affected people, and when the victims are not receiving help, then this horde of foreigners is not acceptable to us at all," a Taliban spokesman told the Associated Press. How do you bring aid to people in need when there are factions in the country threatening attack on those trying to help?
The worst floods in more than 80 years have devastated Pakistan, causing widespread problems in the country and triggering worries about social unrest, food riots and a possible challenge to the government's rule. Speaking last weekend, Altaf Hussain, a powerful political leader and the head of the Muttahida Quami Movement called for patriotic generals to take steps toward martial law to oust Pakistan's president.
To support relief efforts in Pakistan, the United States currently has 18 military and civilian aircraft in the country and three based in Afghanistan. American helicopters have evacuated nearly 6,000 people and delivered more than 717,000 pounds of relief supplies. And Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has just announced the U.S. will increase aid to Pakistan to $150 million.
But the context for the American military presence in Pakistan is more complicated than simply delivering humanitarian aid. Pakistan is home to militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose offshoot organizations have already become a visible force during this crisis. The Pakistani Taliban is already believed to be behind two attacks against security forces in Peshawar since the start of the flooding.
20 million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan in the past three weeks, in what some say is the worst natural catastrophe in recent history. However, even with the United Nations calling for $459 million for immediate relief efforts, aid assistance is still only trickling in. Whether it is "compassion fatigue," lack of funds or a distrust in the Pakistani government's transparency – the real question is, will a failure to act now have greater foreign policy implications for the future stability of the region?
In Pakistan almost a third of the country is under water. Flood victims are demanding help and many are saying the government has been too slow to respond. the United Nations has launched a $460 million international appeal to help the victims. However, a new political problem is emerging as groups with militant ties are stepping in to help local residents, and even telling locals not to accept help from outside sources. Issam Ahmed, reporter for the Christian Science Monitor has been covering the flooding. He describes the scope of the disaster and squalid conditions for those affected.
Pakistan's worst flooding in 80 years has killed hundreds and displaced what's estimated to be more than a million people. The United States has pledged $10 million in relief, in addition to providing helicopters and other critical supplies to Pakistan. But is this enough relief to matter?
The worst flooding in Pakistan's history has killed over a thousand people in a volatile region. Issam Ahmed, reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, is in Lahore, Pakistan. He has the latest details on the spill and the country's greatest needs as two million people flee their homes.
Yesterday Pakistan suffered a series of coordinated attacks against police and military compounds which killed 40 people in the country's second-largest city, Lahore. More violence hit the nation this morning when a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at a mosque next to a police station in the northwest city of Peshawar, killing at least seven people. Over the past two weeks, coordinated attacks have killed more than 150 people across the country. The violence seems intended to force the government to abandon a planned offensive into militants' stronghold along the Afghan border.
How are the residents of Pakistan reacting to the dramatic uptick in violence? We are joined by Issam Ahmed, reporter for the Christian Science Monitor in Islamabad, Pakistan; and Daniyal Mueenuddin, author of the book of stories “In Other Rooms, Other Wonders.” Mueenuddin lives in southern Punjab in Pakistan, where he owns and runs a farm.