Robust US aid effort on Pak floods could thwart Taliban influence: Experts

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Islamabad, Aug 10(ANI): US officials and regional experts reckon that a robust aid effort by the Obama administration to tackle the flood-related crisis in Pakistan could thwart Taliban and other extremist groups' influence in the country.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, experts believe the Taliban and other extremist organizations will be anxious to fill a void left by an unprepared Pakistan government.

They also highlighted how militants have been able to create key sanctuaries in South Waziristan and the Swat Valley by capitalizing on the residents' hostility towards the government that often seems distant and indifferent.

Last year, the Pakistan Army took the Swat Valley back with a major offensive, and launched a series of public works projects. But now, the floods could jeopardize these recent gains.

The floods in Pakistan have claimed over 1600 lives and affected 15 million people. A UN report has said the calamity is far worse to the January 13, 2010 Haiti earthquake, the October 8, 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the December 26, 2004 Asian tsunami.

The US has acknowledged that global response to the floods in Pakistan has been inadequate and urged the international community to do more.

"I am concerned that people do not see it as yet another catastrophe. It is a huge catastrophe," said Richard C. Holbrooke, President Obama's Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Holbrooke said Washington has contacted a number of its allies and urged them to step forward to help Pakistan.

"It is not just a talk. We are calling some of our allies and asking them to help," he added.

The US has so far supplied food sufficient to feed about 158,500 people through its partnership with the World Food Programme, and is currently reaching about 35,000 to 49,000 people per day.

To coordinate the aid, the US Agency for International Development (USAID)'s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) began work in Pakistan on August 8.

DART is composed of humanitarian relief experts to monitor assistance and to quickly fill identified gaps by acquiring relief supplies.

USAID on Monday announced that enough heavy-duty plastic sheeting to provide emergency housing for more than 140,000 flood victims would begin arriving later this week. (ANI)

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