Pakistan’s embattled President Asif Ali Zardari has warned the country could take at least three years to recover from the devastating floods that are continuing to wreak havoc four weeks after they began.
In an interview with a group of foreign correspondents in Islamabad, Mr. Zardari said at least three years was required to rebuild its infrastructure but added: “I don't think Pakistan will ever fully recover.”
Pakistan's floods have also weakened the standing of Zardari, who did not return from a trip to Europe when the crisis began, as well as parliamentarians generally, who have in many cases been notably absent from their home constituencies. The Army, meanwhile, which has ruled Pakistan for roughly half of its 63-year existence, has profited from some good public relations.
Over the weekend, Altaf Hussain, the leader of Pakistan’s MQM party, a coalition partner in the government, said his group would support “patriotic generals” in any “martial law type action” against Pakistan’s corrupt and feudal politicians.
Speaking to the Monitor, Farahnaz Ispahani, a spokesperson for Mr. Zardari, said that certain political forces are now discussing alternatives to democracy. “The Pakistani military has made it clear that if four previous coups did not solve Pakistan's problems, a fifth one would also not succeed.” she says.
So far the floods have killed more than 1,500 people, left some 4.5 million displaced, and affected the livelihoods of up to 20 million. More than 2 million acres of agricultural land – the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy – have been destroyed. A Pakistani delegation this week travels to Washington to ask the International Monetary Fund to ease conditions imposed on a $11.3 billion aid package.