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Monday, August 23

Accusation that Pak military diverted floodwaters to Balochistan to save military airbase from flooding (Updated 2X)

Flooding in Jaffarabad, Balochistan - 8/23
According to this report from The Nation, filed today: “'We did not get proper relief in Dera Murad Jamali and kept marching until we reached Quetta,' said Aziz, an affected person of Jaffarabad ... He said that owing to the wrong policies of the local administration and tribal elders the whole Jaffarabad district had been inundated.'"

Pinning blame on the locals is a far cry from the accusation that The Nation published earlier. So this is a fog of war situation. It's a gamechanger if the military indeed diverted floodwaters -- and even if the accusation doesn't pan out it will be hard if not impossible to tamp down the accusation in Pakistan.

However, the primary source for the accusation is a report in the rabidly anti-American Pakistani newspaper, The Nation. According to the same report, the Pakistani regime had earlier announced that the airbase couldn't be used for flood relief operations because it was under control of the U.S. military:
Jacobabad airbase saved at cost of Balochistan
By: Imran Mukhtar, August 21, 2010

ISLAMABAD – Deputy Chairman Senate Mir Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali on Friday made a stunning statement that an airbase was being saved from floodwaters at the cost of Balochistan and as a result more than 85 percent part of Jaffarabad has been inundated by flood.

The statement came after Secretary Health Khushnood Lashari on Wednesday informed the Senate Committee on Health that Shahbaz Airbase (Jacobabad) could not be used for relief operations in the flood-affected areas of Jacobabad as the airbase was under the control of US.

Jamali, however, did not elaborate his point and limited his remarks to this statement while talking to this scribe. He also severely criticised the PPP-led government for its mishandling of the disaster. “The people should compare how Z A Bhutto’s PPP had handled the flood situation in 1976 and how the present PPP rulers are managing it, this would unfold many things,” he added.

The Deputy Chairman Senate has also written a letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry requesting him to take a suo motto notice to ascertain the responsibility of the devastation caused by breaching of Thori Band near Guddu Barrage at Indus River. The breach has caused destruction at a massive level in district Jaffarabad of Balochistan. The letter has raised many eyebrows that the people even sitting in the Parliament are also seeking justice from the Supreme Court.

In his letter (No. DCS/2010 dated August 18, 2010) addressed to the CJP, a copy of which is available with The Nation, Jamali blamed that ‘the breach on the left bank of Indus is reportedly to save some influentials’ standing crops and lands without an assessment of the destruction to residents of the district of Jaffarabad’.
That accusation against "influentials" is in line with similiar ones from other quarters but that's not the same as saying the Pakistani military diverted floodwaters for an airbase being used by the Americans.

To continue with The Nation report:
The letter says, “The breach inundated all the four tehsils of Jaffarabad district and the water rose to a height of 7 feet destroying every single building, household of the rural communities.

About 85 percent of the inhabitants of Jaffarabad have, therefore, become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the districts of Nasirabad, Sibi and Quetta”.

Jamali also said in the letter that out of the one million population of Jaffarabad, 0.85 million inhabitants had lost their houses, crops, livestock and livelihoods while 5-7 ft deep water had destroyed 90 percent of the agriculture land including crops and infrastructure as well as communications.

He in his letter attributed this devastation to a callous and anti-human attitude of the authorities concerned.

The Deputy Chairman Senate while talking to The Nation on Friday also said that thousands of people had taken shelter at Saifullah Magsi and Kherther. “The people of Balochistan have been stranded in Bungel Derra, Ahmed Sial, Faizal-ul-Faqir, Goth Ghulam Mohammad, Goth Ali Ghulam Lashari and Goth Patogi due to the torrential rains and heavy floods and they have to be rescued within no time,” he said.

He also stressed that the Army should have to be moved to rescue these thousands of people.
What is clear is that Balochistan is already a tinderbox. See B. Raman's July 31 report, Weakening Pakistani hold in Balochistan, which details the extent to which the central government in Islamabad is being rejected there.

And yesterday Carlotta Gall reported for the New York Times:
... A former prime minister, Zafarullah Khan Jamali, a member of Parliament whose constituency in neighboring Baluchistan was 90 percent underwater, warned that the mood would only worsen. “These people will be out in the streets, this is what I see,” he said. “I have been through many floods, in ’56, ’73, ’76 and 2007, but I have never seen a government less bothered.” He added, “The state is a failure, and the people will come out, and naturally nothing can stop the wave of people.”

Asked if he was talking about a revolution, he said: “Yes. We are heading toward that, very fast.”
According to what one of John Batchelor's sources told him last night Jamali is now homeless.(1) His home was inundated with the floodwaters.

1) H/T John Batchelor Show, Sunday, 11:50 PM segment. Sunday podcast for the show not posted yet at WABC site).
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