The people of Pakistan have faced a series of crises in recent weeks and face daunting continuing circumstances, according to a report this week from Robert Johnson and Marianne Vermeer, mission co-workers in that country with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The siege at Islamabad’s Red Mosque has ended, but tensions are high and some expect northern and western parts of the country, where the Taliban movement is strong, to experience further violence, according to Johnson and Vermeer. “This is a real fear, and this country needs your prayers for peace to reign,” they write.
In addition to this crisis, several natural disasters also have occurred.
The city of Karachi (population 13,000,000) faced disastrous thunderstorm flooding that killed 200, which followed deadly riots over a situation related to the chief justice of Pakistan. Before the floodwaters subsided, tropical cyclone Yemyin blew into the area further inundating Karachi and damaging its power grid.
Yemyin’s torrential rains also devastated parts of lower Balochistan, Pakistan’s southwestern province, the mission co-workers report. Since the area is usually arid, many residents live in mud houses. The rains destroyed thousands of structures, trapping and drowning hundreds of victims. Washed-out roads and other obstacles hampered relief efforts. An estimated 800,000 persons were stranded, some on rooftops, in heat reaching 110 degrees. The situation has improved somewhat, but the situation is still serious, they report.
Church World Service is working in Balochistan to help relieve the suffering. Those wanting further information on the situation, or those wanting to contribute can check the CWS Web site: http://www.churchworldservice.org/news/archives/2007/07/716.html
A recent television report featured a “man-in-the-street” interview with a gentleman after the Red Mosque incident. He was especially upset at the cowardly use of women and children as human shields during the siege. He said, “What about the kiddies? The little children? Shouldn’t we be looking out for them? All I can say is, God help Pakistan!” Johnson and Vermeer concluded their report by saying, “Join this man in his prayer — God help this nation.”