News / Asia

US Highlights Aid Efforts in Flood-Ravaged Pakistan

The U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan has highlighted U.S. efforts to help flood-ravaged Pakistan in his first visit to the country since the disaster.

Richard Holbrooke toured relief camps in the southern province of Sindh on Wednesday and said the United States has donated "the most money and the most helicopters."

The U.S. has given more than $260 million in aid to Pakistan, as it deals with massive flooding that killed more than 1,700 people and affected nearly 20 million others.  Much of the U.S. assistance has been channeled through humanitarian organizations.

The U.S. is looking to improve its image in Pakistan, where anti-American sentiment runs high despite billions of dollars in U.S. aid to the country.

The scale of the flooding has overwhelmed international aid agencies and the Pakistani government.  Many flood victims have complained of a slow response, with at least 6 million people still in need of urgent assistance, including food, water and shelter.

Western nations, including the U.S., have warned that militants may try to exploit the disaster in order to win favor with the people.  

On Wednesday, Al-Qaida's number-two leader said Pakistan's flood relief efforts have been a failure and urged Pakistanis to confront their government.

Ayman al-Zawahri made the statements during a 44-minute speech posted on militant websites Wednesday, apparently to mark the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The al-Qaida leader accused the Pakistani government of being corrupt and said officials are more interested in enriching themselves than in helping the people.

When asked about Zawahri's comments, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley noted that the al-Qaida leader's true intentions are demonstrated by his support of terrorist attacks on the Pakistani government at the very time it was providing support to its own people.

Zawahri is believed to be hiding in northwestern Pakistan's tribal region near the Afghanistan border with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

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