Pakistan says won't divert forces from militant fight
By Zeeshan Haider, Reuters, August 13, 2010
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's army is playing the leading role in rescue efforts after the worst floods in decades, but it will not divert forces from the battle against Islamist militants, military officials said on Friday.
The floods, the country's most severe natural disaster, began two weeks ago and have killed more than 1,600 people, forced 2 million from their homes and disrupting the lives of about 14 million people, or 8 percent of the population.
The army has deployed about 60,000 troops for rescue and relief operations out of a force of about 550,000 soldiers.
Soldiers in helicopters and boats have plucked numerous survivors from the water that has inundated the Indus river basin. Army engineers are rebuilding broken bridges and washed-out roads while other units have set up relief camps.
But there has been worry, especially in the United States, that the Pakistani military would have to withdraw some of its 140,000 soldiers fighting militants in ethnic Pashtun lands in the northwest, along the Afghan border, to help with the floods.
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Pakistan floods: Two 'major peaks' due on Indus river - BBC
US increases aid to flood-ravaged Pakistan - AFP
China Offers New Aid To Flood-Hit Pakistan - BERNAMA
David Cameron blunder on Pakistan floods - Mirror, UK
Poor response to Pakistan aid appeals frustrates charities - The Independent
Flood-hit Pakistan cancels Independence Day events - BBC