A Pakistan high court yesterday quashed terrorism charges against former prime minister Imran Khan, his defence lawyers said, a relief for the former cricket star who has faced a spate of legal woes since being ousted from office. The court said Khan’s alleged offence didn’t attract terrorism charges, Faisal Chaudhry, one of his lawyers told Reuters. The charges are related to a speech by Khan in which he warned of taking (legal) action against police and judicial officers after one of his allegedly tortured close aides was denied bail in a sedition case. “The case against Imran Khan, however, will remain intact, that will now be tried in an ordinary court, instead an anti-terrorism court,” Chaudhry said. “This is actually an order to quash the charges,” another of his lawyers, Babar Awan, told Reuters, adding, “It only proves that these are trumped up charges, and just a tool for political victimisation.” Islamabad police brought the charges against Khan in August after his public remarks that he would not spare the police and a judicial officer who had denied bail to his aide. Khan subsequently explained that his remarks were not meant to be a threat. The former premier has faced several cases since his ousting in April in a vote of confidence won by opposition parties in an effort led by his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. One of the cases is at a crucial stage in the high court, which is slated to indict Khan on Sept 22 in a contempt of court case for threatening the judicial officer. If convicted, he could face disqualification from politics for at least five years. Another case involves foreign funding for his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party that an election tribunal found unlawful. Khan, who rode to power in a 2018 election allegedly on the back of support from Pakistan’s military, had fallen out of favour with the powerful generals. Both the military and Khan deny he came to power with the military’s support. Since his ousting he has held phenomenal nationwide rallies to demand snap polls, but the ruling coalition has refused it, saying the election will be held as scheduled by the end of 2023.
Children and women are becoming more vulnerable as tens of thousands of people suffer from infectious and water-borne diseases in flood-hit Pakistan, government data showed and Unicef said yesterday, as the total death toll from the inundation surpassed 1,500. As flood waters begin to drain away, which officials say may take two to six months in different areas, the flooded regions have become infested with diseases including malaria, dengue fever, diarrhoea and skin problems, the southern Sindh provincial government said in a report issued yesterday. “Stagnant water is giving rise to the water-borne diseases,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in his address to the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) summit being held in Samarkand in Uzbekistan. “Children getting malaria and diarrhoea...all kinds of diseases,” he said, adding, “millions of people are living under open sky.” Women and children in poor health and/or malnourished are particularly vulnerable to any diseases. The Sindh report said more than 90,000 people were treated on Thursday alone in the province, which has been the hardest hit by the cataclysmic floods. It confirmed 588 malaria cases with another 10,604 suspected cases, in addition to the 17,977 diarrhoea and 20,064 skin disease cases reported on Thursday. A total of 2.3mn patients have been treated since July 1 in the field and mobile hospitals set up in the flooded region. Record monsoon rains in south and southwest Pakistan and glacial melt in northern areas triggered the flooding that has impacted nearly 33mn people in the South Asian nation of 220mn, sweeping away homes, crops, bridges, roads and livestock in damages estimated at $30bn. The losses will slash the country’s GDP growth to around 3% from the estimated target of 5% set out in the budget at a time when it had narrowly escaped defaulting on its debt amid a balance of payment crisis. Pakistan was already reeling from economic blows when the floods hit, with its foreign reserves falling to as low as one month’s worth of imports and its current account deficit widening. The economy has yet to show any positive response to Islamabad resuming an IMF programme that had been delayed since early this year. The National Disaster Management Authority has reported 1,508 deaths due to the floods so far, including 536 children and 308 women. Hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced are in dire need of food, shelter, clean drinking water, toilets and medicines. Many have been sleeping in the open by the side of elevated highways.
Over 90,000 people were treated for infectious and water-borne diseases in a day in southern Pakistan's flood-hit areas, government data showed on Friday, as the total death toll from the inundations surpassed 1,500. Flooded areas have become infested with diseases including malaria, dengue fever, diarrhoea and skin problems, according to the report from the southern Sindh provincial government issued on Friday. It confirmed 588 malaria cases with another 10,604 suspected besides 17,977 diarrhoea and 20,064 skin disease reported on Thursday. A total of 2.3 million patients have been treated since July 1 in the field and mobile hospitals set up in the flooded region. Record monsoon rains in south and southwest Pakistan and glacial melt in northern parts triggered the flooding that has impacted nearly 33 million people in the 220 million South Asian nation, sweeping away homes, crops, bridges, roads and livestock in damages estimated at $30 billion. The National Disaster Management Authority reported 1,508 deaths including 536 children and 308 women. Hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced are in dire need of support in term of food, shelter, clean drinking water, toilets, and medicines. Many have been sleeping in the open by the side of elevated highways. The torrential monsoon, which submerged huge swathes of Pakistan, was a one in a hundred-year event likely made more intense by climate change, scientists said on Thursday.
A Pakistani court yesterday extended former prime minister Imran Khan’s pre-arrest bail for eight more days on terrorism charges relating to a speech in which he allegedly threatened police and judicial officers, his lawyer said. Khan, who appeared in court in person, was booked in the case by police in August. This is the fourth time he has secured pre-arrest bail in the matter. “Bail is extended till 20th September with the same sureties,” Khan’s lawyer, Babar Awan, told Reuters. Khan has denied he threatened the officials, saying his words were taken out of context. “This amounts to making a mockery of the anti-terrorism law; making a mockery of our country,” he told journalists outside the court yesterday after he secured his bail. The terrorism case is one of a spate of legal woes for Khan, who was ousted as prime minister by a parliamentary vote in April. The court said last week it would indict Khan in a contempt of court case in coming days in a matter that poses a threat to his future as it could see him disqualified from politics for at least five years. Khan, who still enjoys widespread support, has been holding political gatherings across the country to pressure the government into holding snap elections. Officially, general elections are not due until November next year. The government says the polls will take place on time and has rejected Khan’s call for early elections. It is at one of these rallies that Khan thundered against police and judicial officials. He has also targeted the top brass of the country’s military.
Authorities in Pakistan are scrambling to protect a vital power station supplying electricity to millions of people against a growing threat of flooding, officials said yesterday. Floods from record monsoon rains and glacial melt in the mountainous north have affected 33mn people and killed almost 1,400, washing away homes, roads, railways, livestock and crops, in damage estimated at $30bn. Both the government and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have blamed climate change for the extreme weather that led to the flooding that submerged huge areas of the nation of 220mn. The electricity station in the district of Dadu in the southern province of Sindh, one of the country’s worst affected areas, supplies power to six provincial districts. Troops were busy strengthening a dike built in front of the station, a visit to the site showed on Sunday. “All preventive measures have been taken already to save the grid in case any flooding happens,” Syed Murtaza Ali Shah, a top district official, told Reuters yesterday. The comment followed orders from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, reported by state broadcaster Radio Pakistan, to ensure the 500kV power station did not get flooded. Yesterday, a dust storm in nearby Sehwan town uprooted hundreds of tents pitched at roadsides by people made homeless by the floods, as a fresh spell of rains expected in the middle of the month begins to set in, officials said. “If rains come where would we go — we are sitting under open sky, we don’t know what to eat, what to cook,” Mohamed Hasan, one of those impacted by the storm, told Reuters. “All the tents got uprooted by strong winds today, we do not know where to go. We are desperate.” The Pakistan Meteorological Department said yesterday it expects more rain in the area in the next few days, posing a new threat to displaced people living in tents or in the open along raised highways. UN agencies have begun work to assess the South Asian nation’s reconstruction needs after it received 391mm (15.4 inches) of rain, or nearly 190% more than the 30-year average, in July and August. Sindh received 466% more rain than average and all the flood waters pass through Dadu, a district with a population of 1.5mn, because of its location.
Authorities in Pakistan are scrambling to protect a vital power station supplying electricity to millions of people against a growing threat of flooding, officials said on Monday, taking steps such as building a dike in front of it. Floods from record monsoon rains and glacial melt in the mountainous north have affected 33 million people and killed almost 1,400, washing away homes, roads, railways, livestock and crops, in damages estimated at $30 billion. Both the government and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres have blamed climate change for the extreme weather that led to the flooding, which submerged nearly a third of the nation of 220 million. The electricity station in the district of Dadu in the southern province of Sindh, one of the country's worst affected areas, supplies power to six provincial districts. Troops were busy strengthening a dike built in front of the station, a visit to the site showed on Sunday. "All preventive measures have been taken already to save the grid in case any flooding happens," Syed Murtaza Ali Shah, a top district official, told Reuters on Monday. The comment followed orders from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, reported by state broadcaster Radio Pakistan, to ensure the 500kV power station did not get flooded. U.N. agencies have begun work to assess the South Asian nation's reconstruction needs after it received 391 mm of rain, or nearly 190% more than the 30-year average, in July and August. Sindh received 466% more rain than average and all the flood waters pass through Dadu, a district with a population of 1.5 million, thanks to its location.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said yesterday that he has “never seen climate carnage” on such a scale as he toured parts of Pakistan hit by floods, blaming wealthier countries for the devastation. Nearly 1,400 people have died in flooding that covers an area the size of the United Kingdom and has wiped out crops and destroyed homes, businesses, roads and bridges. Guterres has said he hopes his visit will galvanise support for Pakistan, which has put the provisional cost of the catastrophe at more than $30bn, according to the government’s flood relief centre. “I have seen many humanitarian disasters in the world, but I have never seen climate carnage on this scale,” he said at a press conference in the port city of Karachi after witnessing the worst of the damage in southern Pakistan. “I have simply no words to describe what I have seen today.” Pakistan receives heavy — often destructive — rains during its annual monsoon season, which is crucial for agriculture and water supplies. But downpours as intense as this year’s have not been seen for decades, while rapidly melting glaciers in the north have for months heaped pressure on waterways. “Wealthier countries are morally responsible for helping developing countries like Pakistan to recover from disasters like this, and to adapt to build resilience to climate impacts that unfortunately will be repeated in the future,” Guterres said, adding that G20 nations cause 80 percent of today’s emissions. Pakistan is responsible for less than a percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but is eighth on a list compiled by the NGO Germanwatch of countries most vulnerable to extreme weather caused by climate change. Around 33mn people have been affected by the floods, which have destroyed around 2mn homes and business premises, washed away 7,000km of roads and collapsed 500 bridges. “Pakistan and other developing countries are paying a horrific price for the intransigence of big emitters that continue to bet on fossil fuels,” Guterres said in a tweet, shortly before heading to see some of the most flood-affected areas. “From Islamabad, I am issuing a global appeal: Stop the madness. Invest in renewable energy now. End the war with nature.” Guterres has lamented the lack of attention the world has given to climate change — particularly industrialised nations. “This is insanity, this is collective suicide,” he said after arriving in Pakistan on Friday. The effect of the torrential rain has been twofold — destructive flash floods in rivers in the mountainous north, and a slow accumulation of water in the southern plains. “All the children, men and women are roasting in this scorching heat. We have nothing to eat, there is no roof on our heads,” Rozina Solangi, a 30-year-old housewife living in a displacement camp near Sukkur, told AFP on Friday. “He must do something for us poor,” she said of the UN chief’s visit. The meteorological office said Pakistan has received five times more rain than normal in 2022. Padidan, a small town in Sindh province, has been drenched by more than 1.8m since the monsoon began in June. Water levels have reached far higher in areas where rivers and lakes have burst their banks, creating dramatic inland seas. Thousands of temporary campsites have mushroomed on slivers of high ground in the south and west — often roads and railway tracks in a landscape of water. With people and livestock crammed together, the camps are ripe for outbreaks of disease, with many cases of mosquito-borne dengue reported, as well as scabies. During his speedy tour, Guterres stopped at some of these makeshift camps and met with desperate flood victims, including a woman who gave birth overnight. Wearing an Ajrak shawl with a traditional Sindhi block print, he later inspected the 4,500-year-old Unesco world heritage site Mohenjo-daro, which has suffered water damage from the relentless monsoon rain.
President Joe Biden made an election-year visit to an overwhelmingly Republican part of Ohio yesterday for the groundbreaking of a semiconductor plant that he promoted as evidence that his economic policies are working. But his trip was punctuated by a fellow Democrat, Ohio Representative Tim Ryan, publicly questioning whether the party needed new leadership when asked if the 79-year-old president should run for re-election in 2024. Biden travelled to Licking County near Columbus to speak at the site of Intel Corp’s new $20bn semiconductor manufacturing facility and hailed it as a sign of things to come. “The future of the chip industry is going to be made in America,” he said. “The industrial Midwest is back.” The trip is part of a White House pre-midterms push to tout new funding for manufacturing and infrastructure Biden’s Democratic Party pushed through Congress, while decrying opposition Republicans backed by former President Donald Trump as dangerous extremists. Previous trips to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have landed the president in areas where Democrats already have strong support, but Licking County voted Republican 63% to 35% in the 2020 presidential election. Democrats have lost Ohio in the past two presidential contests, but Republican Senator Rob Portman’s retirement may give Democrats a chance to pick up a Senate seat. Some recent forecasts show Democrats favoured to maintain control of the Senate, after a series of wins in Congress. But not all candidates welcome Biden’s campaigning support. Ryan, who currently represents Ohio’s 13th congressional district, is running against Republican J D Vance, a venture capitalist and author of the book, Hillbilly Elegy, who has Trump’s backing. Asked Thursday if Biden should seek a second term, Ryan told Youngstown, Ohio, network WFMJ, “My hunch is that we need new leadership across the board — Democrats, Republicans, I think it’s time for a generational move.” Ryan, who has broken with the president on some issues, has not asked Biden to campaign with him in the state, but was present at the Intel groundbreaking for the president’s remarks. Pressed later by reporters if Biden should run again, Ryan said that was up to the president. “The president said from the very beginning he was going to be a bridge to the next generation, which is basically what I was saying,” he said. Trump’s political organisation announced on Monday that Trump will appear at a rally for Vance in Youngstown, Ohio, on Sept 17.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “massive” international support for flood-ravaged Pakistan while visiting the country yesterday, while Islamabad put the cost of flood-related damage at $30bn. Record monsoon rains and glacier melt in northern mountains have triggered floods that have swept away houses, roads, railway tracks, bridges, livestock and crops, and killed more about 1,400 people. Huge areas of the country are inundated and hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. The government says the lives of nearly 33mn people have been disrupted. Both the government and Guterres have blamed the flooding on climate change. “I call on the international community that Pakistan needs massive financial support, as according to initial estimates the losses are around $30bn”, Guterres told a joint news conference in the capital Islamabad, after meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on his two-day visit. Sharif said “Pakistan needs an infinite amount of funding” for its relief effort, adding the country “will remain in trouble as long as it doesn’t receive sufficient international assistance”. Pakistan expects to cut its GDP growth projection for the financial year 2022-2023 to 3% from 5% due to the losses, planning minister Ahsan Iqbal told an earlier news conference. The United Nations has launched an appeal for $160mn in aid to help Pakistan cope with the disaster. As well as meeting Sharif and foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Guterres will tour affected areas during his visit. Bhutto-Zardari told a news conference after the meeting that Pakistan was waiting for the rescue and relief phase of the crisis to end before calling a donor conference to work on reconstruction. “When we have a 100km lake that has developed in the middle of Pakistan, tell me how big of a drain can I build to manage this?” he said. “There is no man-made structure that can evacuate this water.” In July and August, Pakistan recorded 391mm of rainfall — nearly 190% more than the 30-year average. The southern province of Sindh has been overwhelmed, with 466% more rain than average. Guterres said the world needed to understand the impact of climate change on low-income countries. “It is essential for the international community to realise this, especially the countries who have contributed more to climate change,” he said. The World Health Organisation has said more than 6.4mn people need humanitarian support in flooded areas. The cost of clearing up and rebuilding after the floods has added to concerns about whether the country can afford to keep paying its debts. Over the last three weeks its government bonds have fallen sharply, to almost half their face value in some cases, as international investors have begun to fear a default.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to the world for massive help for Pakistan on Friday as he arrived to support its response to a flood disaster that both he and the government have blamed on climate change. Record monsoon rains and glacier melt in northern mountains, have triggered floods that have swept away houses, roads, railway tracks, bridges, livestock, and crops, and killed more than 1,391 people. Huge areas of the country are inundated and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced from their homes. The government says the lives of nearly 33 million people have been disrupted. "I appeal for massive support from the international community as Pakistan responds to this climate catastrophe," Guterres said upon arrival. He was due to meet Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and visit inundated areas on his two-day visit. The United Nations has launched an appeal for $160 million in aid to help Pakistan cope with the disaster though Pakistan estimates the floods have caused losses of about $10 billion. As well as meeting Sharif and foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Guterres will tour affected areas during his visit. "This visit will make the world better understand the devastation caused by the floods," Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a statement. In July and August, Pakistan got 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, or nearly 190% more than the 30-year average. The southern province of Sindh has seen 466% more rain than average. The World Health Organization has said more than 6.4 million people need humanitarian support in flooded areas.
Eighteen more people have died in Pakistan, authorities said on Wednesday, taking to 1,343 the toll in unprecedented floods that have inundated more than a third of the South Asian nation, making hundreds of thousands homeless. As many as 33 million of a population of 220 million have been affected in the disaster blamed on climate change, which officials estimate to have caused losses running into a minimum of $10 billion. Many of the affected are from the southern province of Sindh, where Pakistan's largest freshwater lake is dangerously close to bursting its banks, even after having been breached in an operation that displaced 100,000 people. National disaster officials said eight childen were among the dead in the last 24 hours. The floods were brought by record monsoon rains and glacier melt in Pakistan's northern mountains. With more rain expected in the coming month, the situation could worsen further, a top official of the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned. Already, the World Health Organization has said more than 6.4 million people need humanitarian support in the flooded areas. The raging waters have swept away 1.6 million houses, 5,735 kilometres (3,564 miles) of roads, railways, 246 bridges, telecommunication systems, 750,000 livestock, and swamped more than 2 million acres (809,370 hectares) of farmland.
As the United Nations warned of more misery to come, Pakistan scrambled yesterday to widen a breach in its biggest lake in a bid to prevent it from overflowing amid unprecedented floods that have inundated a third of the South Asian nation. Flooding, brought by record monsoon rainfall and glacier melt in the north, has impacted 33mn people and killed at least 1,325, including 466 children, the national disaster agency said. About 636,940 displaced people have been housed in tent villages, it said, adding the raging waters had swept away 1.6mn houses, roads, rail and telecommunication systems, and inundated over two million acre of farmland, destroying both standing and stored crops. Reuters’ drone footage over Sindh province showed agricultural and residential areas completely submerged in water, with just the tops of trees and buildings visible. Rice fields resembled massive lakes of several miles in diameter, according to aerial video footage by the Pakistani military. Officials have estimated economic cost of the losses minimum at $10bn. With more rain expected in the coming month, the situation could worsen, a top official of the United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) warned. “We fear the situation could deteriorate,” said Indrika Ratwatte, the agency’s director for Asia and the Pacific. “This will increase challenges for flood survivors, and likely worsen conditions for nearly half a million displaced people, forcing more to abandon their homes.” A key concern was country’s largest Manchar freshwater lake, in Sindh province, which was close to bursting its banks. “We have widened the earlier breach at Manchar to reduce the rising water level,” provincial irrigation minister Jam Khan Shoro told Reuters on Monday. Already, 100,000 people have been displaced in efforts to keep the lake from overflowing, and if it breaches its banks, it could affect hundreds of thousands more, authorities said. The region already faces the dangers of water-borne and skin diseases, dengue fever, snake bites and breathing issues, Azra Fazal Pechuho, health minister for the southern province, told a news briefing. She said 856,000 patients had been treated since flooding began in July, mostly from field and mobile hospitals. “Over 1200 of our health facilities are under water,” she said, adding the field hospitals were receiving nearly 20,000 diarrhoea and 16,000 malaria cases daily. The World Health Organisation has said over 6.4 million people need humanitarian support in the flooded areas. To help the medicine stocks, Pechuho said, the UNHCR’s aid has arrived. The UNHCR is working with Pakistani authorities to step up humanitarian supplies, Ratwatte added. Three more UN relief flights arrived on Tuesday, foreign ministry said. “Till yesterday there was enormous pressure on the dikes of Johi and Mehar towns, but people are fighting it out by strengthening the dikes,” district official Murtaza Shah said yesterday, adding that 80% to 90% population of the towns had already fled. Those who remain are attempting to strengthen existing dikes with machinery provided by district officials. The waters have turned the nearby town of Johi into a virtual island, as a dike built by locals holds back the water. “After the breach at Manchar, the water has started to flow, earlier it was sort of stagnant,” one resident, Akbar Lashari, said by telephone, following Sunday’s initial breach of the lake. The rising waters have also inundated the nearby Sehwan airport, civil aviation authorities said. The floods have followed record-breaking summer heat. Pakistan and the United Nations both have blamed climate change for the extreme weather and resulting devastation. Pakistan has received nearly 190% more rain than the 30-year average in July-August, totalling 390.7mm, with the southern Sindh province getting 466% more rain than the average.
Pakistani authorities are fighting to prevent the country’s biggest lake bursting its banks and inundating nearby towns after unprecedented flooding, while the disaster management agency yesterday added further 24 fatalities to its death toll. Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in Pakistan’s northern mountains have brought floods that have affected 33mn people and killed at least 1,314, including 458 children, Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Agency said. The floods have followed record-breaking summer temperatures and the government and the United Nations have both blamed climate change for the extreme weather and the devastation it has brought. The relief effort is a huge burden for an economy already needing help from the International Monetary Fund. A delegation of three US lawmakers, who visited the flood-hit areas on Sunday to assess the damage and explore ways of assisting Pakistan in its recovery efforts, met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif yesterday, his office said. Sharif told the lawmakers that given the challenges and enormous resources involved in the reconstruction efforts, “continued support, solidarity and assistance from the international community was critical,” the office said. The UN has called for $160mn in aid to help the flood victims but Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said the damage was far higher. “The total damage is close to $10bn, perhaps more,” Ismail said in an interview with CNBC. “Clearly it is not enough. In spite of meagre resources Pakistan will have to do much of the heavy lifting.” Nevertheless, help kept pouring in with the foreign ministry reporting arrivals of relief flights yesterday from the United Nations and individual countries, including Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates. Earlier, engineers breached Pakistan’s biggest freshwater lake to drain water threatening nearby towns, officials said yesterday, as heavy rain poured misery on millions affected by the country’s worst floods in history. Nearly a third of Pakistan is under water — an area the size of the United Kingdom — following months of record monsoon rains that have killed 1,300 people and washed away homes, businesses, roads and bridges. “There is nowhere to shower or go to the bathroom,” said Zebunnisa Bibi, sheltering near Fazilpur, in Punjab province, where 65 tents are now home to more than 500 people who fled their inundated villages for higher land. Similar tent camps have mushroomed across much of the south and west of Pakistan, where rain has nowhere to drain because rivers are already in full flow as a result of torrential downpours in the north. Sindh province Information minister Sharjeel Inam Memon told AFP yesterday that engineers had to cut a channel into Lake Manchar to drain water that was threatening the towns of Sehwan and Bhan Saeedabad, with a combined population of nearly half a million. Still, thousands had to be evacuated from smaller settlements submerged by the newly directed channel. “The flood water was diverted but the threat is still far from over,” Memon said. “We are trying our best to stop the inundation of more villages.” Lake Manchar, which lies west of the Indus River, varies in size according to the season and rainfall, but is currently spread over as wide an area as anyone can recall. Much of Sindh and parts of Balochistan have become a vast landscape of water, with displaced locals huddled miserably on elevated roads, rail tracks and other high ground. Human and animal waste in the fetid water attracts swarms of flies, while outbreaks of dengue are being reported from mosquitoes breeding in the swamplands.
Authorities in flood-hit Pakistan breached the country’s largest freshwater lake yesterday, displacing up to 100,000 people from their homes but saving more densely populated areas from gathering flood water, a minister said. Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in Pakistan’s northern mountains have brought floods that have affected 33mn people and killed at least 1,290, including 453 children. The inundation, blamed on climate change, is still spreading. Manchar Lake, which is used for water storage, had already reached dangerous levels and the increased pressure posed a threat to surrounding areas in southern Sindh province, Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro said. He said about 100,000 people would be affected by the breach but it would help save more populated clusters and also reduce water levels in other, harder-hit areas. “By inflicting the breach we have tried to save Sehwan town. Water levels on Johi and Mehar towns in Dadu district would be reduced by this breach in the lake,” Shoro told Reuters. It was not clear how many of the 100,000 asked to leave their homes would actually do so. Some displaced by the floods have complained that shelters are crowded, while others are reluctant to leave their possessions. Aside from historic rainfall, southern Pakistan has had to contend with increased flooding as a surge of water flowed down the Indus river. The country has already received nearly three times the 30-year average rainfall in the quarter through August, totalling 390.7mm (15.38 inches). Sindh province, with a population of 50mn, was hardest hit, getting 464% more rain than the 30-year average. Being downstream on the Indus river, the southern parts of the country have witnessed swelling river waters flowing from the north. Pakistan’s limited dams and reservoirs are already overflowing and cannot be used to stop downstream flows. Tarbela dam in the north-west, has been at capacity — 1,550 feet and 5.8mn acre feet — for weeks, according to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) data. Downstream in Sindh, barrages are under pressure with the Indus river in high flood level, the NDMA said in its latest situation report. Authorities also prepared for more rain in the north over the next few days up until Tuesday. “Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecasted that weak monsoon currents from Arabian Sea are penetrating upper and central parts of the country which subsequently cause rain-wind / thundershowers,” the NDMA said in an advisory. It cautioned local administrations to be on an enhanced state of alertness, and to restrict vehicle movement in areas prone to flash floods and landslides as well as those close to water channels. It said some populations in the north could be at risk, and advised “timely evacuation”. The overnight death toll from the floods increased by 25, of which 12 were children, according an NDMA update. The United Nations children’s agency Unicef said there was a risk of “many more” child deaths from disease after floods. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif yesterday appealed to Unicef and other global agencies to help control child deaths. “As Pakistan battles one of the worst climate-induced calamities, among the most adversely affected are children,” Sharif said on Twitter. Yesterday, flights carrying aid from Unicef, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates landed in Pakistan.
Residents in southern Pakistan used sandbags to shield their homes from surging floodwaters that inundated a major highway yesterday, as global aid began arriving with food, medicine and tents to help alleviate a major national disaster. Abnormal heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers triggered floods that have submerged a third of the country and killed at least 1,191 people, including 399 children. The United Nations has appealed for $160mn to help with what it calls an “unprecedented climate catastrophe”. In Dadu, a district of the southern province of Sindh, residents gathered to form new dikes and reinforce existing ones using sandbags near a major highway that was deluged by water overnight. “We have been working to make and reinforce this dike since early morning,” Damshad Ali, 20, told Reuters, vowing to stay in the flood-stricken area with his family. Nearby, another man called for help. “I appeal to all young men to come join the dike strengthening, God willing we will save the city of Maher from the flood waters,” he said from a mound of sandbags, as local residents joined the effort. Yesterday’s flooding was caused by water gushing down from nearby mountains between the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. Residents feared the situation could worsen as water from flooding in the north had yet to reach the southern province of Sindh and could do so in the coming days. Global aid began arriving, carrying planeloads of tents, food and medicine from China, Turkiye and the United Arab Emirates as the scale of the devastation unfolded, the foreign office said. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are in urgent need shelter, food and clean water, with the threat of more flooding to come yesterday. Pakistan has received nearly 190% more rain than the 30-year average in the quarter through August this year, totalling 390.7mm. Sindh province, with a population of 50mn, was hardest hit, getting 466% more rain than the 30-year average. Major rivers, the Indus and the Kabul have reached “high to very high flood” levels that are likely to continue rising over the next 24 hours, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said. It said 480,030 displaced persons were transferred to refugee camps. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari accompanied diplomats from 20 countries on a flight over the flooded regions which Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said comprised a third of the country. International aid agencies have asked for a relaxation on imports of food from Pakistan’s old rival and neighbour India, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said. “It will take a long time to bring the situation under control,” Rehman told a news conference, adding that clean drinking water was scarce and “diseases are spreading.” Villager Fayyaz Ali, 27, in Sindh’s hard-hit Shikarpur district, managed to get his family to safety but had little hope of saving his small home. “The house is going to fall at any moment. It’s inundated,” Ali told Reuters as he sat on higher ground. Like many others, Ali said he had yet to receive any help. Main roads running above the fields have become refuges, with people, together with their belongings and farm animals, seeking shelter from the sun and rain under makeshift plastic tenting. The World Health Organisation said over 6.4mn people were in dire need of humanitarian aid. “Access to health facilities, healthcare workers and essential medicines and medical supplies remain the main health challenges for now,” WHO said in a statement. Some 888 health facilities have been damaged, it added. Army helicopters have been plucking stranded families from rooftops and patches of dry land and dropping food in inaccessible areas, mainly in northern and southwestern Pakistan. Colossal volumes of water are pouring into the Indus river, spilling out along its length and leaving vast tracks of land submerged. Flash floods have swept away homes, businesses, infrastructure and crops. The government says 33mn people, or 15% of the 220mn population, have been affected. The floods have also washed away standing and stored crops that officials say will likely lead to a food shortage, with prices of edible items surging in a South Asian country already suffering from 24.9% inflation. General Akhtar Nawaz, chief of the national disaster agency, said more than 2mn acres of agricultural land have been flooded. “The rice crop has been washed away,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told reporters after visiting northern Pakistan. “Fruit and vegetables are gone.” He said floodwaters had swept away 700,000 livestock. Early estimates have put the flood damage at more than $10bn, the government has said, appealing to the world to help it deal with what it has called a man-made climate catastrophe.
At a charity clinic in a southern Pakistani village, dozens of people affected by relentless rains and floods crowd around the door waiting to talk to a volunteer doctor. The village of Bhambro is in a poor district of Sindh province, hard-hit by record floods that have destroyed more than a million homes and damaged critical infrastructure including health facilities across the country. Bhambro is surrounded by vast stretches of flooded farmland, its streets full of mud and strewn with debris and manure -- conditions ripe for outbreaks of malaria, cholera and skin diseases such as scabies. "Skin diseases are the main problem here because of dirty, stagnant water and unhygienic conditions," said Sajjad Memon, one of the doctors at the clinic, which is run by the charity Alkhidmat Foundation. He used the flashlight on his mobile phone to examine patients, who were mostly reporting scabs and rashes on Tuesday. Many had made their way to the clinic walking barefoot through filthy floodwater and mud. "My child's foot is burning with pain. My feet too," said Azra Bhambro, a 23-year-old woman who had come to the clinic for help. Abdul Aziz, a doctor in charge of Alkhidmat's clinics in the area, told AFP that cases of scabies and fungal infections were on the rise. Scabies outbreaks are common in crowded places with tropical conditions -- such as flood relief camps and shelters -- and can lead to severe itching and rashes, according to the World Health Organization. Memon told AFP that many of the patients at the clinic could not afford to purchase shoes. - Major health hazards - The millions of people affected by the floods face major health hazards including potentially deadly diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, the WHO warned in a statement Tuesday. Sindh province, in Pakistan's south, has been hit particularly hard, with vast swathes of land under water and many villagers forced to head to large cities for shelter, food aid and medical assistance. The health threat is even greater in areas such as Bhambro, where health services were already limited, and for the tens of thousands who are taking shelter in crowded relief camps. "Ongoing disease outbreaks in Pakistan, including acute watery diarrhoea, dengue fever, malaria, polio, and Covid-19 are being further aggravated, particularly in camps and where water and sanitation facilities have been damaged," the WHO said.
Tens of millions of people across Pakistan were yesterday battling the worst monsoon floods in a decade, with countless homes washed away, vital farmland destroyed and the country’s main river threatening to burst its banks. Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said a third of the nation was under water, creating a “crisis of unimaginable proportions”. Officials say 1,136 people have died since June, when the seasonal rains began, but the final toll could be higher as hundreds of villages in the mountainous north have been cut off after flood-swollen rivers washed away roads and bridges. “To see the devastation on the ground is really mind-boggling,” Rehman told AFP in an interview. “When we send in water pumps, they say ‘Where do we pump the water?’ It’s all one big ocean, there’s no dry land to pump the water out.” Rehman described the country being under water as akin to a dystopian movie. She also expected the death toll to rise as many areas in the north of the country, where dozens of rivers are still in full flood, remain cut off. Rehman renewed the government’s appeal for international assistance, while also blaming major industrialised countries for their role in global warming. Pakistan is responsible for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but is eighth on a list compiled by the NGO Germanwatch of countries deemed most vulnerable to extreme weather caused by climate change. “It’s time for the big emitters to review their policies. We have crossed what is clearly a threshold,” she said. “The multilateral forum pledges or ambitions voiced by other countries — the rich countries, that have gotten rich on the back of fossil fuels — they don’t really come through.” Rehman said Pakistan’s economy, already in crisis, would be badly hit by the flooding. “Sindh is half of Pakistan’s breadbasket and will not be able to grow anything at all next season,” she predicted. “Not only will our exports be impacted, but our food security will take a hit.” Rehman said a proper assessment of the damage caused by the flooding would take time. “Right now, after everyone is actually rescued, we will be feeding and providing cooked meals and shelter,” she said. “We need to also look for the spread of medical camps, because disease is always the next predator in such an environment.” Early estimates put the damage from Pakistan’s deadly floods at more than $10bn, its planning minister said, adding that the world has an obligation to help the South Asian nation cope with the effects of man-made climate change. “I think it is going to be huge. So far, (a) very early, preliminary estimate is that it is big, it is higher than $10bn,” Ahsan Iqbal told Reuters in an interview. “So far we have lost more than 1,000 human lives. There is damage to almost nearly one million houses,” Iqbal said at his office. “People have actually lost their complete livelihood.” The minister said it might take five years to rebuild and rehabilitate the nation of 200mn people, while in the near term it will be confronted with acute food shortages. The annual monsoon is essential for irrigating crops and replenishing lakes and dams across the Indian subcontinent, but it can also bring destruction. This year’s flooding has affected more than 33mn people — one in seven Pakistanis — said the National Disaster Management Authority. This year’s floods are comparable to those of 2010, the worst on record, when more than 2,000 people died. Flood victims have taken refuge in makeshift camps that have sprung up across the country, where desperation is setting in. “Living here is miserable. Our self-respect is at stake,” said Fazal e Malik, sheltering in the grounds of a school now home to around 2,500 people in the town of Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. “I stink but there is no place to take a shower. There are no fans.” Near Sukkur, a city in southern Sindh province and home to an ageing colonial-era barrage on the Indus River that is vital to preventing further catastrophe, one farmer lamented the devastation wrought on his rice fields. Millions of acres of rich farmland have been flooded by weeks of non-stop rain, but now the Indus is threatening to burst its banks as torrents of water course downstream from tributaries in the north. “Our crop spanned over 5,000 acres on which the best quality rice was sown and is eaten by you and us,” Khalil Ahmed, 70, told AFP. “All that is finished.” Much of Sindh is now an endless landscape of water, hampering a massive military-led relief operation. “There are no landing strips or approaches available... our pilots find it difficult to land,” one senior officer told AFP. The army’s helicopters were also struggling to pluck people to safety in the north, where soaring mountains and deep valleys make for treacherous flying conditions. Many rivers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province — which boasts some of Pakistan’s best tourist spots — have overflowed, demolishing scores of buildings including a 150-room hotel that crumbled into a raging torrent. The government has declared an emergency and appealed for international help, and on Sunday the first aid flights began arriving — from Turkey and the UAE. It could not have come at a worse time for Pakistan, where the economy is in free fall. Prices of basic goods — particularly onions, tomatoes and chickpeas — are soaring as vendors bemoan a lack of supplies from the flooded breadbasket provinces of Sindh and Punjab. The meteorological office said the country as a whole had been deluged with twice the usual monsoon rainfall, but Balochistan and Sindh had seen more than four times the average of the last three decades. Padidan, a small town in Sindh, was drenched by more than 1.2m of rain since June, making it the wettest place in Pakistan. Across Sindh, thousands of displaced people are camped alongside elevated highways and railway tracks — often the only dry spots as far as the eye can see. More are arriving daily at Sukkur’s city ring road, belongings piled on boats and tractor trollies, looking for shelter until the floodwaters recede. Sukkur Barrage supervisor Aziz Soomro told AFP the main headway of water was expected to arrive around September 5, but he was confident the 90-year-old sluice gates would cope. The barrage diverts water from the Indus into 10,000km of canals that make up one of the world’s biggest irrigation schemes, but the farms it supplies are now mostly under water. The only bright spark was the latest weather report, with the met office saying there was little chance of rain for the rest of the week. Pakistan will consider importing vegetables from arch-rival India to mitigate floods fallout, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said yesterday, as food prices have risen significantly. “We can consider importing vegetables from India,” the minister told local Geo News TV. Turkey and Iran could also be other options, he said.
Former prime minister and chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party Imran Khan will hold an international telethon tonight to raise funds for the millions hit by the ongoing floods in Pakistan. The telethon will be conducted at 9pm Pakistan time. Khan, who is Pakistan’s most prolific fundraiser and a philanthropist having built the country’s biggest state-of-the-art cancer hospital and research centre in Lahore as well as a similar cancer hospital in Peshawar, has announced to pitchfork ‘Imran’s Tigers’ — a volunteering youth force — to help with the rehabilitation of the flood victims. The former PM chaired a meeting yesterday at his residence in Islamabad to finalise the arrangements. The fund distribution will be overseen by Dr Sania Nishtar, an internationally recognised health expert, who is also the head of the Ehsaas Programme — one of the world’s leading poverty alleviation programmes — in Punjab. The telethon has raised wide expectations, especially amongst overseas Pakistanis, who form the backbone of his party’s support base.
The fate of hundreds of thousands of people in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province lies with a 90-year-old barrage that directs the flow of water from the mighty Indus River into one of the world’s largest irrigation systems. The government has declared an emergency to deal with floods caused by record monsoon rains that have affected nearly 33 million people — many whose livelihoods depend on the Indus. But just as the river provides during times of plenty, it can also take away. Sindh has been pounded by weeks of torrential rain that have flooded farmlands across the province, but now torrents from swollen tributaries in the mountainous north are coursing down the Indus, due to arrive in coming days. The river rises in Tibet and bisects Pakistan as it meanders more than 3,000km south to the Arabian Sea near Karachi. “That water coming into the river is scaring us,” Irshad Ali, a 42-year-old farmer near the city of Sukkur, told AFP as he lamented the date palms and vegetable patches he lost to the monsoon. “A big storm is about to come.” Water from the Indus is already lapping over its banks in several places, and unless the Sukkur Barrage can control the flow, catastrophe will result. Originally known as Lloyd Barrage, it was considered an engineering marvel when completed in 1932, capable of discharging 1.4mn cubic metres of water per second through 19 steel gates hinged between stone pillars. It is the centrepiece of the city, a favourite site for tourists to photograph, and also provides a key bridge across the river. “It has completed 90 years, whereas it had a 50-year guarantee,” Syed Khursheed Shah, Pakistan’s Minister for Water Resources, told AFP. “So we are 40 years beyond its guaranteed life.” Water is redirected by the barrage to a series of canals totalling nearly 10,000km that thread through farmlands, but years of neglect mean they are not capable of dealing with today’s record volumes. “Silt has been piling up and it is not being removed,” said Shah, adding a lack of equipment meant the canals hadn’t been dredged since 2010. Metres-thick layers of silt leave less room for the water to flow, causing a backlog and likely flooding at the Indus. Water is already flowing into the streets of Sukkur, seeping through the walls of buildings along Bandar Road, which leads to the barrage. “The city is already four feet below the river levels,” minister Shah said. Engineers were scrambling Sunday to reinforce Ali Wahan levee, a crucial curve of the river Indus in the city that is threatened by the swollen river. Optimism, and a bit of time, are the only relieving factors. “This embankment is strong, machinery is available and the staff on alert,” said overseer Shahid Hussain. “The good thing is the timing,” he added, explaining that flooding caused by local rain should have receded by the time the water from the north courses through. But if it does rain again closer to home, the situation could change quickly. “Fortunately the forecast suggests there will be no rains in coming days,” Minister Shah said.
Pakistan's flooded southern Sindh province braced Sunday for a fresh deluge from swollen rivers in the north as the death toll from this year's monsoon topped 1,000. The mighty Indus River that courses through Pakistan's second-most populous region is fed by dozens of mountain tributaries to the north, but many have burst their banks following record rains and glacier melt. Officials warned torrents of water are expected to reach Sindh in the next few days, adding misery to millions already affected by the floods. "Right now, Indus is in high flood," said Aziz Soomro, the supervisor of a barrage that regulates the river's flow near Sukkur. The annual monsoon is essential for irrigating crops and replenishing lakes and dams across the Indian subcontinent, but it also brings destruction. Officials say this year's monsoon flooding has affected more than 33 million people -- one in seven Pakistanis -- destroying or badly damaging nearly a million homes. On Sunday, the country's National Disaster Management Authority said the death toll from the monsoon rains had reached 1,033, with 119 killed in the previous 24 hours. It said this year's floods are comparable to 2010 -- the worst on record -- when over 2,000 people died and nearly a fifth of the country was under water. Thousands of people living near flood-swollen rivers in Pakistan's north were ordered to evacuate from danger zones, but army helicopters and rescuers are still plucking laggards to safety. "People were informed around three or four o’clock in the morning to evacuate their houses," rescue worker Umar Rafiq told AFP. "When the flood water hit the area we had to rescue children and women." Many rivers in the area -- a picturesque tourist destination of rugged mountains and valleys -- have burst their banks, demolishing scores of buildings including a 150-room hotel that crumbled into a raging torrent. Guest house owner Nasir Khan, whose business was badly hit by the 2010 flooding, said he had lost everything. "It has washed away the remaining part of the hotel," he told AFP. - Climate change to blame - Officials blame the devastation on human-driven climate change, saying Pakistan is unfairly bearing the consequences of irresponsible environmental practices elsewhere in the world. Pakistan is eighth on NGO Germanwatch's Global Climate Risk Index, a list of countries deemed most vulnerable to extreme weather caused by climate change. Exacerbating the situation, corruption, poor planning and the flouting of local regulations mean thousands of buildings have been erected in areas prone to seasonal flooding. The government has declared an emergency and mobilised the military to deal with what Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman has called "a catastrophe of epic scale". In parts of Sindh, the only dry land are the elevated roads and rail tracks, alongside which tens of thousands of poor rural folk have taken shelter with their livestock. Near Sukkur, a row of tents stretched for two kilometres, with people still arriving by boats loaded with wooden charpoy beds and pots and pans -- the only possessions they could salvage. "Water started rising in the river from yesterday, inundating all the villages and forcing us to flee," labourer Wakeel Ahmed, 22, told AFP. Barrage supervisor Soomro told AFP every sluice gate was open to deal with a river flow of more than 600,000 cubic metres per second. The flooding could not come at a worse time for Pakistan, where the economy is in free fall and the former prime minister Imran Khan was ousted by a parliamentary vote of no confidence in April. While the capital Islamabad and adjoining twin garrison city of Rawalpindi have escaped the worst of the flooding, its effects were still being felt. "Currently supplies are very limited," said Muhammad Ismail, a produce shopkeeper in Rawalpindi. "Tomatoes, peas, onions and other vegetables are not available due to the floods," he told AFP, adding prices were also soaring.