While Pakistanis continue to suffer the devastating effects of repeated monsoons, the international community is competing with terrorist groups over recovery efforts.
Heavy rains since the beginning of July have caused major flooding throughout Pakistan. The United Nations estimates that at least 20 million people have been affected and are now living in makeshift camps without food, water, and electricity. Just last week, al Jazeera reported:
"We have been told that for the past two weeks people here have not received any help…They are running out of food and they are running out of medicine."
Against this backdrop, the Pakistani government has been working to relieve the suffering. But commenting on the dire straits, the Pakistani Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, lamented:
"The government has done everything possible but it is beyond our capacity, we are facing an extremely difficult situation."
The international community has stepped up efforts to try to help. The World Bank announced it would make $900 million in loans available for relief efforts. The United States has launched a civilian and military relief effort in the country. But all of this has come at the same time that terrorist groups are attempting to win over civilians in the region.
The Pakistani-Taliban (TTP) has made repeated calls urging victims of the floods to boycott aid from "foreign infidels." Commenting on efforts to combat the flooding and its effects TTP leader Azam Tariq said:
"We condemn American and other foreign aid and believe that it will lead to subjugation. Our jihad against America will continue."
Meanwhile Jamaat ud-Dawa, a front for Lashkar e-Tayyiba has been setting up shop in the devastated region. The group, claiming to be operating as a charity, is reportedly distributing food and water, and running an ambulance service.
The efforts of these groups shows the importance of the "battle for hearts and minds." American and Western recovery efforts in the region are integral to ensuring that neither the TTP nor LeT gain the support of the civilian population.