In a paradoxical move while reportedly denying permission to the use of US-controlled Shahbaz air force base in southern Sindh province for flood relief operation, the Department of State has established the Pakistan Relief Fund. The establishment of the fund was announced on August 19, in a video statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This Fund is in addition to $150 million help announced earlier.
The floods have affected 20 million people and about one-fifth of Pakistan's territory. The flood disaster has apparently hit more Pakistanis than the toll of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Haiti earthquake combined.
In a stunning statement before the Standing Committee on Health of the Senate,
Health Secretary Khushnood Lashari said, on August 18, that the relief operations in flood-hit areas of Jacobabad could not be conducted from the Shahbaz airbase because it is controlled by the US.
"Health relief operations are not possible in the flood-affected areas of Jacobabad because the airbase is with the United States," he said answering a question from a member of the committee.
Dr Jahanzeb Aurakzai, coordinator of the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Centre, said: "Foreign health teams could not start relief operations in remote areas because there are no airstrips close to several areas, including Jacobabad."
The town has been evacuated and 500,000 to 700,000 people have been affected. People displaced from Jacobabad, Thul, Kandhkot, Kashmore, Ghouspur and Karumpur are camping in Dera Allahyar.
"It is very unfortunate that Americans can launch a drone attack from Shahbaz airbase but the government is helpless even in using the country's base for relief operations," Senator Semeen to Dawn.
Telling, on August 16, while the focus of the Pakistani nation was on the sufferings of the flood victims, US launched two separate drone strikes in one day in North and South Waziristan killing 18 people. At least six people were killed in US drone attack in North Waziristan on Saturday (August 21).
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