It's really terrible that this disaster hasn't drawn more attention from our media here in America. I've seen some slim coverage of the disaster on CNN, but not nearly enough given the magnitude of just how many lives are being devastated from this flooding and how little is being done about it. From the article in Foreign Policy from Amy Goodman's guest Fatima Bhutto:
More than 3 million people in the northwestern region of Pakistan have now been affected by the floods. Parts of the north are facing terminal food shortages even as they are inaccessible to relief workers. The U.N. World Food Program says that 1.8 million will urgently need something to eat in coming weeks. The death toll has risen steadily in recent days to more than 1,400 people. About another million have lost their homes.
The news is also unlikely to get any better: Officials now say that the waters are expected to hit Punjab and Sindh provinces, Pakistan's food-producing regions. New flood warnings are still being issued, and the country is bracing for further monsoon downpours.
Here's more from Democracy Now.
AMY GOODMAN: Pakistan’s government is facing rising national anger as the devastating floods along the Indus River show little sign of abating. Some 1,600 people have died, upwards of six million people directly affected, according to the latest estimates from the United Nations, which has compared the scale of the crisis to the 2005 earthquake. As landslides and continuing rain complicated relief efforts, entire villages have been washed away and many towns submerged. Several areas of the country have been cut off, including the Swat Valley in the northwest and parts of Pakistan’s breadbasket of Punjab and Sindh some 600 miles downstream the Indus River. With one-and-a-half million acres of croplands ravaged, the prices of basic foods have skyrocketed.
This is Mohamad Amin, a resident of Mingora in the Swat Valley.
MOHAMAD AMIN: [translated] The people of Swat have been the worst-affected by the floods. Hundreds of people have been swept away by the floods. Thousands of houses have collapsed, and hundreds of thousands have been affected. The inaction of the government in this crisis is regrettable.
AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, the Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, returned home today after a prolonged European tour that sparked fury at home over his absence at a time of national disaster. The government insists his overseas trip was crucial, but images of the president at his chateau in France while his country is battling the worst floods in nearly a century have deepened his unpopularity and strengthened the role of the army. Zardari even faced protests in Britain, with a Pakistani demonstrator in Birmingham hurling a shoe towards him Saturday.
Meanwhile in London, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the twenty-one-year-old son of Asif Ali Zardari and the assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, launched an appeal for Pakistan’s floods and defended his father’s absence.
BILAWAL BHUTTO ZARDARI: As we all know, Pakistan is facing the worst floods in living memory. The floodwaters have devastated the lives of a people who have already suffered the most at the hands of terrorists. I ask everyone to do what you can to help the people of Pakistan. This is not a time to play politics. We need to do whatever is necessary to help our brothers and sisters in Pakistan.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more on the situation in Pakistan, we’re joined now from Karachi by writer and poet Fatima Bhutto. She is the niece of Benazir Bhutto and a vocal critic of the current Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari. Her latest article in foreignpolicy.com calls the current crisis "Zardari’s Katrina." Her memoir, Songs of Blood and Sword, will be published in the United States this fall.
Fatima Bhutto, welcome to Democracy Now! First, describe the situation in your country, the extent of the floods and the response of the Pakistani people.
FATIMA BHUTTO: Well, it’s as you said, Amy. We’re now hearing that 14 million people are being affected by these floods. This season’s rice crop in the Sindh province, in the food belt of this country, has been destroyed. The River Indus is bursting at its banks. We know that more than two million people are in desperate need of food aid. Many hundreds of thousands more have been displaced and lost their homes. And we are hearing now that Mohenjo-daro, which is the birthplace of the Indus civilization, the world’s first planned city that has existed since 2400 BC, is under threat of being destroyed. The destruction in terms of the country’s infrastructure has been enormous. Electricity grids have been shot in the Punjab and Sindh province. The Swat Valley, as you said, is completely closed off. And we are only in the middle of monsoon season. You know, it is raining in Karachi today, as we speak now. Read on...