Floods ravage Pakistan

Mazdoor Ekta Lehar expresses its deep sympathy to the people of Pakistan at these grave moments when the people are faced with one of the worst calamities in history as a result of floods. The estimate of those who have lost their homes ranges upwards of two crore people. Thousands of towns and villages have simply been washed away.

Roads, buildings, bridges, crops - millions have lost their livelihood. People are marooned on tiny islands with the floodwaters all around them (without food, sanitation, medical help, or shelter). They are drinking dirty water. They are living in the mud and ruins of their lives. Many have lost family and friends. Many more are afraid their children and loved ones will not survive in these conditions. One fifth or more of Pakistan is under water.

There is no clear idea of how many people have lost their lives.

According to news reports from Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of people including children, women and aged men have been trapped on the rooftops of their houses as floodwaters with 5-feet depth have blanketed entire districts.

As in India, the floods have been caused both by torrential rains as well as the breakdown of various dams and embankments. The Pakistani people are addressing these issues.

Meanwhile news has come of the criminal role of the US government and its military forces stationed in Pakistan with regard to the crisis.

The US has declared that its main concern is to prevent "additional Jihadis, extremists" from coming out of the crisis. Pakistani media report that on August 18, US Marine Commandant, General James T. Conway, met Pakistan's Army Chief of Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Rawalpindi, to discuss security, not relief. According to the reports, "during the course of the meeting....they discussed issues pertaining to national security, war and terrorism, defense needs, etc. at length."  The plight of 20 million Pakistanis was not addressed, showing America's contempt for the needy, even under dire emergency circumstances, victims getting little or no aid.

According to a Asian Human Rights Commission Report, a Pakistani Minister was charged with the task of saving the US airbase of Shahbaz in Jacobabad District from floods. The Minister reportedly said, if the waters were not diverted, the US base would have got flooded. The Minister and Pakistani army personnel supervised the diversion. According to former Prime Minister Mir Zafar Ullah Khan Jamali, this was done by demolishing the Jamali bypass and letting the town of Dera Allahyar drown. As a result, 800,000 people were affected, displaced by floods, their homes lost, their condition desperate and worsening like for millions in other affected areas.

Reports say that the US Air Force has denied the relief agencies use of the Shahbaz Airbase for the distribution of aid and assistance. Relief operations aren't possible in a vast area of Sind and Baluchistan because America controls the base, and there are no other airstrips close to affected areas, including Jacobabad. The former Musharraf government gave America control of Shahbaz to wage "war on terrorism" in 2001.

People are clear that the US commanders ordered the breach and are demanding that the US officers be prosecuted.

What US is doing in Pakistan in these dire moments is being compared to what it did in Haiti after the disastrous earthquake 8 months ago. US militarily occupied the country, took over the Port-au-Prince airport, obstructed relief supplies, sent in the Marines, and left millions of Haitians on their own to die.

The same scenario affects Pakistani victims. America is taking over, stressing security, and blocking aid, innocent people are left stranded, perhaps to perish while US pursues its imperialist policy in the region. It is not accidental that on August 24, in yet another unmanned drone attack in Waziristan, dozens of women and children were killed.

The developments in Pakistan reveal the great criminality of US imperialism and its total disregard for the people. The "war against terrorism" it is waging is a war against the sovereignty of peoples and nations, and must be roundly exposed and condemned.

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relief    Human Rights    rights    US Imperialism    war against terrorism    sovereignty    Sep 1-15 2010    World/Geopolitics    Rights     Economy    

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