Fear of Taliban gaining hold among flood victims
As floods return, authorities seek to downplay threat of Taliban using relief funds to gain support
Overnight reports from Pakistan suggest that, three weeks after the flooding began, a new wave of flood water could breach defences along the swollen Indus river. Tens of thousands of villagers are being moved out of their homes in the northwest of the country.
The reports come as authorities seek to deal with a second threat - from the Taliban.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has acknowledged the danger of the Taliban increasing their influence in flood-hit areas by taking on charitable roles and winning support from survivors unimpressed by government efforts to deal with the devastation.
But Malik said this would not be allowed to happen and blamed the concerns on internal "party politics".
The US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, also tried to downplay the Taliban risk. Responding to reports that extremists were gaining support while government and international aid efforts were perceived as slow and inadequate, she said: "To be blunt, I think these stories about extremist organisations being the only players out there are greatly exaggerated."
However, there is no doubt that the flow of money and aid remains too slow, with aid agencies saying 6m people are in need of immediate assistance.
Interior Minister Malik admitted his government had been overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis and needed all the help it can get. "What happened was never expected," he said. "In the history of the whole subcontinent there was never such a disaster." ·
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