Monday, September 6, 2010

Ugly Secret Behind Pakistan Floods

Zeina Khodr reports from Pakistan's Sindh province, (South-East corner of Pakistan), that there are ugly secrets behind the worst of the flooding in Sindh and Baluchistan provinces.

First, that the channel of the river Indus was greatly narrowed by illegal construction along the banks, where the rich and powerful had constructed not only large farms, but villas and palaces. (Obviously, a wider river channel can accommodate a far greater volume of water than a narrow channel, all other things being equal.)

Second, that these powerful individuals then deliberately breached the embankment on the right bank of the river, in order to spare their own properties along the left bank.

A word on this Right Bank, Left Bank business; this is reckoned as though one were facing downstream. Since the Indus flows southwards, the Right Bank is to the West, toward Baluchistan and the Iranian border, while the Left Bank is to the East.

As an aside, with all due respect to the good folks at Al Jazeera, the title of this video is rather misleading. The video is about the causes of the flood, not the relief efforts. While AJE's standards of journalism are generally excellent, one encounters grammatical errors in Al Jazeera English stories in print on a distressingly frequent basis, and I suspect this is another aspect of the same problem. They definitely need to hire a good proofreader.

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