Massive flooding across Pakistan ‘unprecedented in last 30 years’, PM Shehbaz Sharif says

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Flooding faced by Pakistan since last month is something that is unprecedented in the country for the last three decades, prime minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Monday.

“There is an ocean of floodwater everywhere,” Mr Sharif was quoted as saying by AFP as he toured areas in the country’s north that have been badly affected.

Earlier the government had said that multiple cycles of torrential rain in several parts of the country since mid-June had affected nearly 33 million people or 15 per cent of its population.

“I saw floodwater everywhere, wherever I went in recent days and even today,” Mr Sharif said in Charsadda, one of the devastated towns.

The prime minister added that planes carrying international aid from some countries have already reached Pakistan and more are expected to arrive soon.

On Sunday, cargo planes from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates arrived in Islamabad carrying tents, food and other daily supplies, the Associated Press reported.

Flood-affected women carry drinking water in containers after fleeing from their homes following heavy monsoon rains in the Sohbatpur area in Jafarabad district of Balochistan province (AFP via Getty Images)
Flood-affected women carry drinking water in containers after fleeing from their homes following heavy monsoon rains in the Sohbatpur area in Jafarabad district of Balochistan province (AFP via Getty Images)

Supplies arranged by the Pakistan government have also been dispatched by the National Disaster Management Authority for thousands of flood victims.

The UN is also expected to launch an international appeal for foreign aid to the disaster-struck country on Tuesday. The country already pleaded for more international attention last week.

According to Pakistan government figures, flash floods have damaged nearly 1 million homes and killed at least 1,061 people.

In a statement on Sunday, Pakistan’s military chief, General Qamar Bajwa, said the country may take years to recover from the devastation caused by the floods.

Displaced people sit in their tents at a makeshift camp after fleeing from their flood-hit homes following heavy monsoon rains in Charsadda (AFP via Getty Images)
Displaced people sit in their tents at a makeshift camp after fleeing from their flood-hit homes following heavy monsoon rains in Charsadda (AFP via Getty Images)

Authorities said the devastation this year was worse than during the 2010 floods when 1,700 people died.

Mr Bajwa also issued an appeal to Pakistanis living abroad to donate to the government’s relief efforts.

Pakistan’s climate minister Sherry Rehman has described the unusual rainfall as a “monster monsoon” that has been fuelled by the climate crisis.

However, concerns have been raised that authorities have not invested enough in dams and reservoirs to contain flooding.

The devastation comes as the country also faces one of its worst economic crises.

Authorities said the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s executive board was expected to approve the release of the much-awaited $1.7bn (£1.45bn) assistance for the country.

The tranche, originally signed in 2019, has been held up since earlier this year after the IMF expressed concern about Pakistan’s compliance with the deal’s terms under former prime minister Imran Khan’s government.

On Monday, the Pakistan government also announced it will reopen trade routes with rival neighbour India to help with the crisis.

“We will open trade routes with India because of this flood & food price hike,” finance minister Miftah Ismail was quoted as saying by Indian news agency ANI.

Additional reporting by agencies