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Pakistan floods: Terror groups could exploit misery

Islamist terrorists may exploit the chaos and misery caused by the floods in Pakistan to gain new recruits, according to the country's president.

Asif Ali Zardari's remarks were echoed by US Senator John Kerry, who toured some of the worst hit areas and visited a relief camp alongside the president.

The news came as the UK Government announced last night that it would double aid to disaster-hit Pakistan. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said an extra £33m was being offered on top of the £31.3m already pledged to help cope with the effects of floods.

Speaking in New York, Mr Mitchell told the UN General Assembly it was “unacceptable” that the international community had not done more, and urged other donors to step up their efforts.

The floods have affected 20 million people and about one-fifth of Pakistan's territory, straining its civilian government as it also struggles against al-Qaida and Taliban violence.

Aid groups and the United Nations have complained that foreign donors have not been quick or generous enough given the scale of the disaster.

“All these catastrophes give strength to forces who do not want a state structure,” Zardari said.

“There is a possibility that the negative forces would exploit the situation. Like they would take the babies who have been made orphans and take them to their camps and train them as the terrorists of tomorrow.”

Zardari's government has been criticised for failing to respond quickly enough, and Islamist charities — at least one of which has alleged links to terrorism — have been active in the flood-hit areas.

There are also concerns the scale of the suffering could stoke

unrest and political instability that may impact Pakistan's fight against the Taliban.

Kerry said: “None of us want to see this crisis to provide an opportunity for people who want to exploit the misery of others for political or ideological purpose.”

More than three weeks after the floods first begun, the US, Germany and Saudi Arabia all announced new pledges of aid, while Japan said it would send helicopters to help distribute food, water and medicine.

The Asian Development Bank said it would redirect $2bn (£1.3bn) of existing and planned loans for reconstruction.

“If we don't do it quick, if we don't do it well, what will the Pakistani people think?” said Juan Miranda, the bank's director general for Central and West Asia. “We have to put every road and every bridge back into the shape where they should be.”

The United States has deployed 18 army helicopters to hard-hit areas and given other aid worth $90m (£59m). Kerry said that would increase to $150m (£98m). The UN children's fund said Pakistan will need international aid for several months to cope, and relief workers urgently need cash donations, said Daniel Toole UNICEF's regional director for South Asia.

Toole said parts of the country may remain flooded even after the rain stops and stagnant water increases the risk of malaria, diarrhoea and cholera. UNICEF expects to raise its original appeal of $47m (£30m) fivefold to meet the increased needs, he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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