Flooding in Pakistan: Overview and Issues for Congress
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Pakistan is in the midst of a catastrophic natural disaster that has precipitated a humanitarian crisis of major proportions. Widespread flooding has affected about 20 million Pakistanis and inundated an area the size of Florida. Congressional interest in the flooding stems from the significant humanitarian and economic implications for the country, and the security implications for U.S. interests in the region. While it is too early to fully assess the extent of the damage and the wide range of its ramifications, it is almost certain that the negative effects of the crisis will be felt for many years to come. U.S. interests are served by a stable Pakistan that can effectively rule all its territory. Any crisis on a scale of the present floods that undermines the Pakistani states ability to control its territory has the potential to undermine U.S. interests. The inability of Pakistan to fully extend its authority into areas along its northwest frontier with Afghanistan has allowed Islamist militants hostile to the United States to find refuge. The current floods have already diverted Pakistani resources and focus away from its struggle with Islamist militants. This has the potential to indirectly affect U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan by taking pressure off militants on the Pakistani side of the international frontier. On a more positive note, the crisis presents the United States with an opportunity to improve its poor image among Pakistanis through provision of humanitarian assistance. Congress will play an important role in overseeing such assistance in the near term, and broad foreign assistance strategies for rebuilding infrastructure and other development goals in the medium and long run.
- Government and Political Science
- Sociology and Law
- Hydrology, Limnology and Potamology
- Unconventional Warfare