The Moment

8|17|10: Pakistan

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The floodplain of the indus river cradled one of history's earliest civilizations, and the river's destructive powers have been biblical of late. In the wake of what the U.N. has described as "the worst monsoon-related floods in living memory," about 20 million people have been displaced, and at least 1,600 have died. Yet the response of the international community has been sluggish, with pledges of aid nowhere near the $15 billion mark some Pakistani officials claim the country needs over the next five years to recover. Of course, Pakistan is no stranger to calamity, and its weak civilian governments have made a habit of approaching the rest of the world with hat in hand. That some may not feel so charitable is unsurprising; after all, it was the misdirection of international support by elements of the Pakistani military that helped spawn the world's nearly decade-long imbroglio in Afghanistan. But now Pakistan stands at a precipice, its political class toothless, its army overstretched, its economy bankrupt. Looking to the heavens, countless stranded, starving Pakistanis can only hope for bluer skies.