US Official Warns of Possible Attack Against Aid Workers in Pakistan

Pakistanis wait to board a U.S. army helicopter that will evacuate them from the flooded Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. A senior U.S. official warned of rebel attacks against foreign aid workers assisting flood victims in the country. Photo by: Paul Duncan / DVIDSHUB / CC BY DVIDSHUBCC BY

Taliban rebels in Pakistan are orchestrating plans to attack foreign aid workers assisting flood victims in the Asian nation, a senior U.S. official warned.

“According to information available to the US government, Tehrik-e Taliban plans to conduct attacks against foreigners participating in the ongoing flood relief operations in Pakistan,” the official told the BBC on condition of anonymity.

“Tehrik-e Taliban also may be making plans to attack federal and provincial ministers in Islamabad,” the official added.

More than 17 million Pakistanis have been affected by the fatal monsoon flooding, according to estimates of the United Nations, BBC reports.

If Pakistan wants more assistance in rebuilding flood-affected areas, it should ensure transparency in managing relief aid, U.S. aid chief Rajiv Shah said.

“We are going to work at it, but these are tough economic times around the world and it will require a demonstration of real transparency and accountability and that resources spent in Pakistan get results,” the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development told the Associated Press Aug. 24.

The U.S. is providing an additional USD50 million to support early recovery efforts in the flood-ravaged nation. The amount will be drawn from the USD7.5. billion Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, which Shah said will now be primarily spent on reconstruction. Much of the five-year funding is already earmarked for energy, agricultural and water projects.

“If you think of just those three areas, going forward I suspect they would be more important,” Shah said. “I think we will end up moving even more aggressively in that direction.”

Amid calls for greater transparency in managing Pakistani relief funding, the aid appeal of the U.N. International Telecommunication Union appears to lack the usual monitoring safeguards for such humanitarian drives.

In a press release, the U.N. agency asks donors to wire money to the National Bank of Pakistan or Switzerland’s UBS AG, to “assist the flood-affected victims” and rehabilitate telephone networks. The release did not specify concrete projects.

The appeal, which is separate from the U.N.’s USD460 million consolidated funding request, was made upon request from Pakistan’s government, ITU spokesman Sanjay Acharya told AP. Speaking about the  Pakistani account, he said, “it’s their responsibility. We can’t monitor that, to be sure.”

“We cannot possibly say ‘No, we don’t trust you,’” Acharya said of fears that the Pakistani government lacks transparency in managing relief money.

Another U.N. agency is seeking funding to provide shelter to flood victims in Pakistan. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says it now needs USD120 million to provide emergency shelter and other forms of assistance to an estimated 2 million Pakistanis over the next four months.The UNCHR appeal was revised upward, from the USD41 million the agency sought previously.

Donors, meanwhile, are continuously finding ways to help flood-hit Pakistan.

Islamic humanitarian aid groups will hold a meeting in Pakistan next week to put together a “joint action plan” to coordinate relief efforts in the flood-ravaged nation, the Organization of the Islamic Conference said.

The conference, which will open Aug. 29, aims to produce a “joint action plan to facilitate the humanitarian relief work in Pakistan, coordinate and mobilise efforts in order to reach the best results,” OIC said in a statement, DPA reports.

A mission from the Islamic Development Bank met with Pakistani authorities to discuss a program between the bank and flood-hit nation from 2011 to 2014. The mission also tackled upcoming recovery projects for flood victims, the Daily Times reports.

China is donating a further 60 million yuan (USD8 million) in humanitarian aid supplies to Pakistan including tents and water purification plants. The new assistance brings China’s total flood aid for Pakistan to 130 million yuan, the Associated Press of Pakistan reports.

Canada has disbursed some 25 million Canadian dollars (USD23.7 million) of the 33 million Canadian dollars it has pledged for Pakistan. The money was channeled through U.N. agencies and non-governmental organizations. The remaining 8 million Canadian dollars, of which 5 million will be used to repair bridges, is being disbursed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

The European Union, meanwhile, says its assistance for Pakistan has passed the 210 million-euros mark (USD267.3 million), with the European Commission commiting 70 million euros, and the rest coming from EU member states, reports.

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.