Pakistani Taliban militants have urged the government to reject Western aid for victims of devastating floods, saying it would only be siphoned off by corrupt officials. The call from the militants battling the government came as the United States stepped up aid for victims of the floods which have killed more than 1,600 people, forced 2 million from their homes and disrupted the lives of about 14 million people, or 8 percent of the population.
“We urge the government not to take Western aid,” a Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Azam Tariq, said by telephone from an undisclosed location. “The government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the centre are desperate to get it, not for the people affected but to make their bank accounts bigger,” he said, referring to the northwestern province hardest hit by the floods.
Roiling floods triggered by unusually heavy monsoon rain have scoured the Indus river basin leaving a trail of destruction from mountains in the north to the plains of Sindh province in the south. Hundreds of roads and bridges have been destroyed and waters have not yet crested in the south, meaning the situation could get worse in Pakistan, a U.S. ally. There is concern that Islamist charities with links to militant groups have been seeking to fill the gap left by what many see as the inadequate response by Pakistani authorities.