Kashif Hafeez Siddiqui

Archive for May 13th, 2010|Daily archive page

Hunza :Thousands face displacement if lake bursts its banks

In pakistan on May 13, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Flooding caused by an overflowing lake, formed after a landslide blocked the River Hunza in northern Pakistan in January, has forced hundreds from their homes, and threatens to displace thousands more.

According to media reports, 88 houses in Aeenabad and Shashkat villages, and two bridges, have been swept away. The two areas were cut-off by the floods.

The water has reached Gulmit, the largest town in Gojal sub-district of Hunza-Nagar District.

“The situation is quite critical. About 13,000 people in the affected area face displacement,” Noor Muhammad, of the NGO Focus Humanitarian Assistance, which has been monitoring the situation in Hunza, told IRIN.

He said organized evacuations had not begun but people had been moving away. “People need to be relocated to safe areas. The situation is quite dangerous.” Nine sites, including government schools and other buildings, had been identified for housing people, he added.

According to a 30 April humanitarian update by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, some “200 people had been relocated as a precaution”.

The lake is 16km long and 350 metres wide. Water is pouring into it at the rate of 2,500 cubic metres per day, according to media reports. The lake does not have an appropriate spillway, so there is a risk it could suddenly burst its banks.

The Pakistan army’s Frontier Works Organization has been attempting since January to create a spillway, but is now likely to stop work, according to Muhammad, due to rising water levels in the lake and the threat of flooding.

The 4 January landslide caused at least 13 deaths and blocked the river in the Attabad area. The lake that formed cut road links to Gojal, resulting in food shortages there. If the lake bursts its banks, flash floods could cause havoc downriver.

“Confusion”

“The situation in the affected area has been very grim for months. People are terrified of floods, and those in Gojal have had to depend on many items from China at high cost as links to Pakistan have been cut off,” Ali Ahsan, a resident of Hunza, told IRIN on the phone.

“Panic is now mounting. Goods were reaching them by boat but now these have stopped running due to a fuel shortage,” he said.

Since the landslide, over 1,000 displaced people from Attabad village and nearby areas have been living in makeshift camps. In March, the governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, a non-self-governing territory, declared Gojal sub-district in Upper Hunza Region “disaster hit”, and said the government was “fully prepared to deal with any situation”.

“We are still awaiting instructions on what to do next. There is a lot of confusion,” Muhammad Ali, 40, a resident of Hunza town, said. “People who lost cattle and property in the landslide need more help.”

Source : kh/at/cb source.irinnews

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The overflowing Hunza lake does not pose any threat to Tarbela dam which has sufficient capacity to store additional water.

Sources in the Indus River System Authority said the water level in Tarbela currently stood at about 1,388 feet, just above the dead level of 1,378 feet, that meant it still had more than 160 feet of capacity to be filled.

They said the storage level could be raised by 10 feet a day till such time it reached 1,500 feet.

When Tarbela’s storage level crosses 1,500 feet, safety requires it to be filled at the rate of two feet a day.

The sources said Wapda had not intimated it about any decision to release water from the dam in anticipation of any unusual water inflows.

On Tuesday, Irsa increased water releases to Sindh from 60,000 cusec to 70,000 cusec to meet its additional irrigation requirements and Balochistan’s share has been enhanced to 6,000 cusec from 2,000.

The sources said a delay in undertaking a study to assess the impact of rising water level at Hunza had fuelled apprehensions that the lake might overflow and people in large areas in downstream Hunza had moved to other places.

They said the water level at Hunza had increased to 314 feet and the lake had expanded to over 15 kilometres.

The sources said an official of the federal flood commission who had supervised the study had been sent to the National Disaster Management Authority on deputation despite initial opposition by the NDMA.

Source : http://www.dawn.com

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An amateur bomber in New York

In I Hate USA on May 13, 2010 at 6:55 am
By Sami Shah

I am seriously upset with Faisal Shahzad. His amateurish attempts at terrorism are ruining Pakistan’s image. It wasn’t easy building a reputation as the top exporter of worldclass terrorists. The Middle East had that market cornered for most of the latter half of the last century (with the Venezuelans making a respectable bid for the title in the 70s with Carlos the Jackal). For a very long time, it seemed like the Arabs were the Apple computers of terrorism. They exported both quantity and quality.

When James Cameron finally recognised their efforts by casting generic Arabs as trouble-makers in True Lies, the rest of the world thought the game was over. The gold medal had gone to the Middle East. Then, like Usain Bolt breaking his own record, the Arab world produced Osama Bin Laden. He became an overnight sensation. Soon teens with terrorist aspirations had his posters up on their walls and his audio and video releases topped the charts. The sinister Saudi combined charisma with wealth, CIA training with Afghan tenacity. He turned the whole terrorism industry upside down, transforming it from a bloated bureaucracy rife with nepotism into a 21st century open source meritocracy.

That’s when we Pakistani’s made a legitimate grab for top slot. Aimal Kansi had made a good first impression on the judging committee, combining ingenuity and initiative as far back as 1993. Unfortunately for him, there was no follow up act.

Not this time though. Our terrorists worked hard. They took their jobs seriously and never complained. Long hours, terrible working conditions, constant travel, drone attacks and a Pakistani government that treated them with all the consistency of a schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder. Yet they persevered. Now, in 2010, we could finally say we were the envy of terrorists everywhere. With training institutes that churn out graduates who always make their instructors explode with pride, Celebrity terrorists who can return from the dead and a disregard for civilians that would make American Presidents envious, we had finally arrived. In 2010, if you wanted to be respected as a terrorist, you had better be from Pakistan. Just look at the number of international students our terrorist training institutes receive. Their admissions department must be flooded with applications. Whole teams of frustrated senior suicide-bombers spending hours pouring over personal statements. The Pakistani textile industry may be declining in terms of exports, our IT services may be crippled because of PayPal’s refusal to acknowledge our existence, but dammit, we did terrorism right!

That is, until Faisal bloody Shahzad. You have to be a truly terrible terrorist when the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan refuses to acknowledge you. This is an organisation that is on the verge of claiming responsibility for the Hindenberg disaster and the Apollo 13 problems. They have, of course, since backtracked and claimed to have trained Faisal but even they don’t sound like they believe themselves. It’s more a case of trying to buy some brand presence on a new celebrity. Faisal, for his part, could not have done more damage to the terrorism industry if he visited Mullah Omar, Hakeemullah Mehsud and Osama bin Laden while wearing a tracking device that was pinging his GPRS coordinates to a drone flying directly overhead. His claims of having attended bomb-making classes in South Waziristan are blatantly a case of lying on one’s resume. It’s safe to say, the first lesson taught on the first day of classes in North Waziristan, the Harvard of bomb-making, is “Don’t lock the keys to your getaway car inside the car that’s supposed to blow up.”

Too many people blew themselves up in too many creative ways for this buffoon to so callously ruin it all. We can’t afford to be known as the country that put the ‘error’ in ‘terrorism.’

Published in the Express Tribune, May 13th, 2010.