Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Catastrophic deluge, surging terror

A commentary by Ajit Kumar Singh and Ambreen Agha in Washington Bangla Radio via South Asia Intelligence Review: The worst ever flood in the last 80 years, which has inundated almost a fifth of the country, and which has been described by the United Nations (UN) as "one of the worst humanitarian disasters" in UN history, is bound to impact adversely on every single person – either directly or indirectly – in Pakistan, potentially endangering the very structure of the nation.

…With official and international relief operations failing to deliver, militant groups, including the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Jama’at-ud-Da’awa (JUD), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), and radical Islamist political formations such as the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), are taking advantage of the flood situation, coming to the fore in collecting funds for ‘flood relief’. Reports indicate that some foreign funding, including contributions from Saudi Arabia, could flow directly to these organisations and through them, eventually, to al Qaeda and its network of affiliates.

...Nevertheless, the intensity of the floods has failed to mitigate the intensity of terrorism in Pakistan. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal database a total of 874 people were killed in terrorism related violence in the month of July, when the flood started to create havoc. As the floods peaked in August, fatalities came down to 320 – but principally because of a decline in terrorist fatalities, as Army operations were suspended under the impact of the natural catastrophe.

…This is a disaster of major proportions, and will have long-term impact on the capacities of terrorist groupings and the state’s agencies, and consequently on the trajectory of terrorism and the stability of the state in Pakistan. As the flood waters recede, the challenge of managing diseases, IDPs and massive rehabilitation and reconstruction work will be compounded by rising depredations of significantly strengthened terrorist formations, even as Pakistan’s chronic economic crisis worsens….

A US Army helicopter hovering over a flooded area of Pakistan

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