The World Bank on Thursday committed $900 million to help Pakistan's recovery effort, and will perform a "damage and needs assessment" next week (Dawn, Daily Times). Continued heavy rains in Pakistan will likely cause two "surges" of water in the coming days, leading to the evacuation of hundreds of thousands from the Punjab and Sindh province, and potentially endangering the city of Hyderabad (NYT, BBC, AJE, Dawn, ABC). Over 17 million acres of agricultural land are under water, and World Bank President Robert Zoellick said yesterday that crops worth an estimated $1 billion had been destroyed in the flooding (Dawn, Reuters, Dawn). And illnesses such as fever, skin problems and diarrhea continue to spread amongst flood victims (AP, Reuters).
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari toured flood-affected areas for the first time yesterday, visiting a dam and displaced persons camp in Sindh province and promising that the government was doing all that it could for victims (AJE, ET, Guardian, Tel). However, the government's response has been widely regarded as inadequate, further fueling mistrust between Pakistan's people and their leaders (ET, Newsweek). Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry will visit Pakistan next week to observe relief operations and raise awareness of the crisis in the United States (AFP, VOA).
Pakistani army spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas told reporters that even though the military is leading relief and rescue efforts, no troops have been or will likely be pulled away from fighting militants in Pakistan's border regions (Reuters). The army has also canceled events planned for Pakistan's Independence Day, and will use the money for relief efforts (ET).
And sentencing for Aafia Siddiqui, whose conviction in a U.S. court of attempting to kill U.S. soldiers and agents in Afghanistan sparked an outpouring of emotion in Pakistan, has been moved back until September 23 (ET, Dawn).
A mission in Laghman province meant to show the Afghan National Army's (ANA) independence and competence last week turned into a debacle as Taliban forces killed at least 10 Afghan soldiers in ongoing fighting and U.S. and French forces have sent forces to rescue the beleaguered detachment (NYT, BBC). The mission was planned without consulting NATO and without NATO air cover or other support, leaving the ANA forces stranded and cut off from each other when the Taliban ambushed them, already aware of the plan. The ANA has met its goal of 134,000 soldiers, but despite making progress still faces enormous problems of illiteracy and lack of basic skills like driving, while training programs are severely understaffed (ABC).
NATO and Afghan officials are reporting an increase in infiltration of foreign fighters and al Qaeda operatives in eastern Afghanistan, and also suggest that the Pakistani terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba as well as the Haqqani network are helping fighters enter from Pakistan or neighboring Afghan provinces (AP). The U.S. military has reportedly given up on pressuring Pakistan to deal with the Haqqani network, choosing instead to increase strikes targeting the Haqqanis, including a raid yesterday which picked up "several" members of the group (WSJ, AP). And NATO is investigating allegations that its forces killed or wounded seven Afghan civilians in Helmand Province (VOA).
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced yesterday that the website was preparing to release its final 15,000 Afghan War documents, after putting them through a "painstaking" vetting process to redact the names of Afghans who might be in danger if exposed for having contact with international forces (AP). The secretary general of the group Reporters Without Borders yesterday called WikiLeaks "incredibly irresponsible" for publishing the names of Afghans who cooperated with international forces, and the Australian government said it was working with the United States to review the documents already leaked and share relevant information (CNN, AP, Reuters).
And in Kabul a memorial service was held for the 10 aid workers murdered last week by insurgents in an isolated part of Badakhshan province (NYT, Tel, AP).
Protests erupted in Indian-administered Kashmir after security forces today shot two people and injured at least eight others for violating the curfew currently in place (AP). And the New York Times reports that the current violence in Kashmir is emblematic of wider disappointment with and protests against Indian rule and the lack of progress towards a political solution for Kashmir (NYT).
The Express Tribune looks briefly today at 12 "fashionably dressed" women who turned up at relief camps carrying supplies they themselves had purchased (ET). As one said, "We were not satisfied with the ongoing relief efforts so we decided to buy things ourselves."