Pakistan’s president said it will take at least three years to recover from the floods that are battering the country.
Asif Ali Zardari’s comments were made as the massive floodwaters continued to sweep southward in surges of water that left millionshomeless, submerged millions of acres of farmland and killed about 1,500 people.
The floods, which began nearly a month ago with hammering rains in the country’s northwest, have affected more than 17M people, according to UN estimates.
While most of the fatalities occurred in the first few days of the flooding, the crisis continues to grow.
Zardari defended the government’s much-criticised response to the record-breaking flood crisis, but he acknowledged that the country’s recovery would take a very long time.
“Three years is a minimum,” Zardari said in an interview in the capital, Islamabad, today.
The widespread misery caused by the floods has triggered worries about social unrest, food riots or a challenge to the government’s rule before its term ends in 2013.
“Three years is a minimum”
Local charities, the Pakistani army and international agencies are providing food, water, medicine and shelter to the displaced, but
millions have received little or no help. Aid officials warn that widespread outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera now pose a
In Shadad Kot, in the southern province of Sindh, authorities are increasingly worried that even the 11 miles (18km) of new levees soldiers have built may not hold back floods in the city, and in Qambar city further to the south.
Today, workers piled stones and sandbags to plug leaks in the levees,trying to stay ahead of any damage to the defences. Ninety percent of Shadad Kot’s 350,000 residents have already fled the city.
Yesterday three bomb attacks rocked the north-west, one of which killed the head of an anti-Taliban militia on the outskirts of the main city of Peshawar.
“The fight goes on, on all fronts,” said Zardari.
“If you are fighting for a cause and the situation turns difficult, you don’t give up. You bring new resolve to the table.”
The floodwaters are expected to begin draining into the Arabian Sea in the coming days.