More than 1,400 people have been killed by floods in Pakistan leading to calls for its president to end his trip to Britain. But pressure is now growing for him to return home as the country battles the worst floods in living memory affecting more than three million people.
Asif Ali Zardari’s controversial five-day visit will focus on talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
But pressure is now growing for him to return home as the country battles the worst floods in living memory affecting more than three million people.
The catastrophe, which started almost a week ago, is likely to deepen as more rain is expected and there are warnings conditions are ripe for the outbreak of diseases.
It has also called into question once again Mr Zardari’s effectiveness and commitment to stabilising Pakistan.
Authorities are struggling to help victims of the flooding, many of whom have lost their homes and livelihood and say they had not received any official warnings that raging waters were heading their way.
Anger is spreading in towns like Charssada – reporters have seen people attacking trucks distributing relief items.
Bistma Bibi, 65, who lost two grandsons in the floods, accused government relief workers of only looking out for friends or relatives.
“I came here at five o’clock in the morning. I did my best. I begged and fought but got nothing. They’re giving them (supplies) to their people,” she said.
Unicef spokesman Abdul Sami Malik said 1.3 million people were severely affected by the floods in the northwest.
Aid agencies and Pakistani government officials are meeting to determine whether to make an urgent international appeal for help, he said.
Islamist charities, some with suspected ties to militants, have stepped in to provide aid, piling pressure on the government to show it can take control of the crisis.
Mr Zardari’s visit was also put in doubt over comments made by Mr Cameron during a tour of India.
The PM sparked anger when he said elements in Pakistan should not be allowed to “promote the export of terror whether to India, whether to Afghanistan or to anywhere else in the world”.
Mr Zardari ignored domestic calls to cancel his visit, including from opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who warned it would be “inappropriate and an insult to the sentiments of the Pakistani people”.
:: The Disaster Emergency Committee has set up a donation appeal to help save the lives of those affected by the floods in Pakistan at www.dec.org.uk