They were expecting a holy month of fasting and celebration when August surprised Pakistan with one of the worst natural disasters in its history.
Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and Pakistan’s Independence Day, was overshadowed by a massive flood that has killed more than 14,000 people and affected more than 20 million lives.
Torrential rains swelled the Indus, the longest river in Pakistan, and its flooding cause damage estimated to be worse than the combined effects of three of the world’s worst natural disasters to occur in the past decade: the Haitian earthquake, the Asian tsunami and the earthquake that rocked Pakistan in 2005.
Aid from all over the world moved at a snail’s pace into the country while the government was almost completely missing in action.
Various waterborne diseases rampage through the flooded streets and in fact already worn-down civilians.
Outraged, people protested against the government which only deterred progress.
The U.S. has pledged $71 million in aid, taking this opportunity to improve relations between the two countries. However, since there are many people still stranded on roof-tops without any food or help. Skeptics think it is too early for the U.S. to pat itself on the back.
Concerns already loom regarding the Taliban and its increase in influence over the affected areas. Nevertheless, officials in the country, including the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, are trying to make light of it.
“To be blunt, I think these stories about extremist organizations being the only players out there are greatly exaggerated,” Patterson said in a press conference.
Pakistan has recently announced that they will not take help from any group that is linked with Islamic militants.
According to Lebanese radio web site Swat Beirut International, “Muslim charities, many of them banned by the United States for supporting Taliban or Al-Qaeda, have taken major part in Pakistan’s flood relief 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 clean water.”
The situation in Pakistan has not significantly improved since the flood began four weeks ago.
Sources: BBC News and Swat Beirut International