World News Brief, Thursday August 19

Pakistan floods undermine Zardari, empower military (+ analysis); Geithner hints at government role in US mortgages with private sector in "full retreat"; Lebanon does u-turn on Palestinians; North Korean plane crashes, pilot may have been defecting; and more

Top of the Agenda: Pakistan Floods Threaten Destabilization

The destruction resulting from severe floods in Pakistan (WashPost) could further destabilize the country without swift international aid. The floods, which have displaced 12 percent of the population and destroyed billion of dollars in infrastructure and crops, have overwhelmed the government. Food shortages, disease, and mass migration could limit the country's ability to address existing problems of weak governance and a strong insurgency. The flood's destruction of schools, bridges, and clinics has already nullified rebuilding efforts in the Swat Valley, which endured intense fighting last year. The floods have also eroded President Asif Ali Zardari's political standing (WSJ), given his slow initial response to the crisis. Pakistan's military has been active in flood response. Its sixty thousand deployed troops have deepened the impression among many Pakistanis that the military holds more power as flood victims stage protests to demand more government help.

The Pakistani government is also struggling to reassure international donors that all aid will go to flood victims and not fall into extremists' hands. US ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson said fears of extremist interference were "greatly exaggerated" (BBC).


In Time, Omar Waraich says Pakistan's difficult economic conditions have given the political opposition an opportunity to criticize Zardari's reliance on the West.

In the National, Mustafa Qadri says the flood provides an opportunity for the international community to improve its relationship to Pakistan by forging an "international campaign of solidarity."

In an interview with, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard C. Holbrooke says international aid to Pakistan so far has been inadequate.


This CFR Analysis Brief examines the economic and political costs of Pakistan's floods.


PACIFIC RIM: Thailand's Web Censorship under Fire

Human rights groups are criticizing Thailand's efforts to curb political debate online (WSJ), as the government restricts thousands of websites after this year's deadly protests.

North Korea: A North Korean plane crashed in northern China (AP), according to South Korean media, and the pilot may have been trying to defect.



- Lebanon Allows Palestinian Refugees Work
- US to Continue Supporting Housing


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on