Wartime disaster

"Wartime disaster" Continued...

Issue: "Rocks in their heads?," Sept. 11, 2010

While offering relief, the Pakistani military must watch militant areas where flood damage threatens recent gains: The army drove Taliban fighters out of key regions of the Swat Valley last summer, but with those areas now cut off by flood damage, officials worry that militants could use the isolation to regroup.

For now, most Pakistani flood victims are focused on survival-an especially difficult task for the most vulnerable populations. A teenage girl living in a roadside tent told the BBC that the flooding had destroyed her family's home. Insurgent bombs had already destroyed her family. "My dad was killed in a bomb attack," said the orphan. "My mother had already died, and then a bomb killed my father."

At relief camps in Sindh province, some 600,000 people struggled to lay hands on limited supplies of food delivered by trucks. "I am a widow, and my children are too young to get food because of the chaos and rush," said flood victim Parveen Roshan. "How can weak women win a fight with men to get food?"

Manmade disaster

Pakistani church leaders murdered

By Jamie Dean

As monsoon rains began falling over large parts of Pakistan in July, two Pakistani pastors fell victim to a manmade disaster in Punjab Province: An unidentified gunman shot and killed the two Christians as they left a courthouse on July 19.

Authorities had arrested Rashid Emmanuel and his brother, Sajid Emmanuel-both in their thirties-on charges of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad in a pamphlet with handwritten comments about the Islamic figure. Pakistani minority affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti said he believes the men were innocent. "I personally don't think that anyone who wrote derogatory things against Muhammad would put their names on the bottom," he said. "This was just to settle a personal issue."

Gunmen shot the pair at close range as authorities led them from the courthouse in handcuffs. The Punjab police suspended two officers for security lapses related to the murders.

The killings came nearly a year after Muslim mobs in the same province attacked groups of Christians, destroying hundreds of homes, and killing as many as 14 people-some by burning in their homes. The mobs had accused Christians of blasphemy against Islam-a crime punishable by death in Pakistan.

The July murders of the two pastors renewed calls from Christian groups for an end to the country's blasphemy laws, though government officials showed no interest in reform.

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the political beat and other topics as national editor for WORLD Magazine. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.


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