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Politics as usual in flood-hit Pakistan

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Highlights of the week: Pakistan Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s war in Ukraine. Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, and Last US hostage in Afghanistan Go home.

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Polarization in Pakistan undermines crisis response

When world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly this week, the organization estimated that Pakistan’s devastating floods have now displaced nearly eight million people from their homes. A health crisis looms: Floods are causing outbreaks of cholera, malaria and dengue fever. Thousands of pregnant women and more than 3 million of their children are in urgent need of medical attention. Officials estimate it will take him six months for the flooding to fully subside.

I visited Pakistan last week. Unsurprisingly, many interlocutors in the media, business community, academia and government concluded that Pakistan was on its toes, and the mood was brooding, even fatalistic. They look forward to more international support.

Honorably, the Pakistani government is doing its best to deal with the crisis. I visited the National Flood Response Coordination Center, which manages Islamabad’s flood response, and met dedicated staff who are doing everything possible to keep relief efforts going. The Center frequently updates information on aid provided and its destination, along with detailed data on international aid. But the main message was “I need help”.

At the National Flood Response Coordination Center, I flipped through a binder containing aerial photographs of dozens of flood-affected areas where farmland turned into lakes. Fortunately, Pakistan has nearly completed its relief efforts and affected people have moved away from the flooded areas. But the relief effort is a problem. People are now in higher status, but they lack adequate food, housing and medical care. Journalists told me they spoke with many Pakistani refugees who said they were not receiving any assistance.

Some of the people I spoke to said that Pakistan should not only beg for help, but should view the flood crisis as a wake-up call to strengthen ecological governance to reduce the scale of damage in future emergencies. But this doesn’t work politically. Neither Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari nor Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman acknowledged the need for policy change at home. Both belong to the party that governs Sindh, the province most affected by the floods.

Pakistan has continuously appealed for international assistance. Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, now leader of the opposition party, held three telethons to raise funds for flood relief from supporters of Pakistan’s diaspora. not as fast. Donor fatigue is a serious problem as the global economy is hit by shocks to supply chains, high commodity prices and even humanitarian crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine. This week, UNICEF said he had only achieved a third of his $39 million appeal.

But the biggest obstacle to Pakistan’s handling of this and other crises may not be lack of international support, but political polarization. During the flood, domestic politics proceeded as normal, with the government and the Khan fighting fiercely despite her third of the country being submerged. Islamabad has refused to postpone his crucial Sept. 29 by-elections, and Khan continues to hold political rallies.Khan and his supporters alluded to The government argued that flood aid should not be trusted and accused the ruling coalition of trying to ban his telethon transmissions.

Nonetheless, Pakistan’s floods were at the top of the agenda at a very busy UN General Assembly summit in New York. and celebrities are raising awareness and pledging solidarity. Pakistan needs to mount an effective flood response and unite so she can speak with one voice to the international community, but the flood crisis seems to have exacerbated its deep divisions. is.

Pakistan has been plagued by economic crisis, political instability and devastating and deadly floods.Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Join us at FP Live on Wednesday, September 28th at 1pm ET to discuss how we can move forward. Register to watch interviews and answer questions.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on September 16.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on September 16.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on September 16.AFP by Sergey Bobylev/SPUTNIK/Getty Images

Modi scolds PutinAt the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a rare criticism of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I know today’s times are not times of war and I spoke about this on the phone,” Modi said.

His comments were in line with India’s long-standing call for de-escalation in Ukraine. What makes them important is that they were published and directed directly at President Putin. New Delhi’s special relationship with Moscow has so far prevented it from publicly condemning the war. The Indian leader’s warning now seems prophetic, but it also appears to be unsuccessful given Putin’s announcement on Wednesday that he would partially mobilize Russia’s reserve forces.

In retrospect, Modi’s criticism was a clever strategic move. At a time when India’s diplomacy over Russia’s war in Ukraine is running into trouble due to its somewhat ambiguous position, it has given New Delhi some big favors from the West, including the United States and some of its NATO partners. At the same time, New Delhi likely knows its partnership with Moscow will not be affected.

US hostages released from Taliban captivity. The Biden administration announced Monday that Mark Frericks, the last remaining American hostage in Afghanistan, was released and is returning home. Frericks, a Navy veteran, was abducted by the Taliban in 2020 while working as a contractor doing construction work. He was released as part of a swap to return to Afghanistan Haji Bashir Nourzai, an Afghan national who spent 20 years in US prisons on drug trafficking charges.

Securing Frerichs’ release has been a top priority for Washington since the U.S. withdrawal last year, and there has long been speculation about a replacement for Noorzai and Frerichs. That it took so long to come to fruition does not reflect the reluctance of the United States to negotiate prison release with the Taliban. Eventually, Washington struck a deal to exchange U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay in 2014.

In this case, the bigger problem was the drug lord Noorzai, who is often compared to Colombia’s Pablo Escobar. The United States needed to be convinced that releasing dangerous criminals and prominent pro-Taliban figures was not against US interests and indeed merited action. reportedly received a hero’s welcome from Taliban fighters.

Bangladesh-Myanmar border tensionsFor weeks Bangladesh has accused Myanmar of firing shells across its border. Last Friday, mortar fire killed his 17-year-old boy and injured six others in a district on the Bangladesh side of the border that included a Rohingya refugee camp. Two days after him, the Bangladesh government summoned the Myanmar ambassador to a meeting since his cross-border shootings began on August 28. Arakan Army rebel group in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has little power to stop the incident, and observers admit that the suspension of trade and diplomacy is of “only symbolic value” given Myanmar’s support from stronger countries such as China. Dhaka has threatened to take the matter to the United Nations, but its options there are unclear.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh government is grappling with related sensitive issues. It is trying to negotiate the return to Myanmar of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled military violence in Rakhine State in 2017.

The millions who left Ukraine after the February 24th Russian invasion included thousands of students from South Asia, mostly from India. But at a briefing last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky revealed that seven Sri Lankan medical students had been rescued from the recently liberated area of ​​Ukraine’s Kharkiv province. After being captured by the military, the students said they were held in a basement.

Some students gave interviews to the BBC this week to tell horrifying stories of being captured and allegedly tortured by Russian forces.

Sri Lankan officials, as in much of South Asia, prefer not to upset friendly relations with Russia and have taken a silent stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. ‘s predicament shows no signs of a tough stance on Colombo. Indeed, governments may have other priorities as they deal with the deep economic crisis and political instability.

But news of student POWs is a reminder that even citizens of seemingly neutral countries are not immune to the horrific effects of war.

daily star columnist Tasneem Tayebdiscussing recent cross-border shelling in parts of Bangladesh hosting Rohingya refugees, arguing that Dhaka cannot assume the international community will help, but the country must stand firm. “We must continue to do our part to maintain territorial integrity and protect the interests of the displaced Rohingya,” she wrote.

Looking back at crime on the rise in Karachi, Pakistan, breaking dawn editorial Blame the city’s police chief for offering financial rewards to residents who recently killed a suspected robber. “Public outrage over violent crime should remain high, but it is highly irresponsible to encourage police to punish people on the streets,” the editorial argues.

in the himalayan times,Writer Anand Aditya Despite marked differences from climate to economic performance, Nepal and Bangladesh have quietly enjoyed decades of good relations. Such relations should be deepened, he wrote. Yes: The two countries “share many things in common, but what they do not share can be used to their mutual benefit.”

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