Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Pakistan Floods

Beset by widespread extremist militancy, saddled with a weak civilian government and in the midst of a considerable fiscal crisis, Pakistan already had more than its fair share of trouble. Then monsoon rains in July triggered almost unprecedented flooding that inundated the Indus River basin — at one point, almost a fifth of the country was underwater. About 20 million Pakistanis were displaced by the rising waters; some 2,000 people died, as did an estimated 10 million heads of livestock. The damage to the economy — up to $43 billion, by some accounts — has been a withering blow to the Pakistani state, which struggled to aid many of the stranded and homeless. Reports suggest that charities linked to fundamentalists often filled the void. The international community was also slow in responding to the unfolding calamity: while more than $742 million in aid was committed to Haiti within days of its earthquake, a paltry $45 million had been set aside for Pakistan a month after its rains began.