Over 20 killed in Afghan flash floods; more rain expected

Stranded vehicles and passengers on a road damaged by flash floods. (Photo by Afghan Ministry of Defense)
Updated 04 March 2019
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Over 20 killed in Afghan flash floods; more rain expected

  • A total of 95 people have died in one month due to natural disasters
  • Kabul has dispatched 40,000 blankets, 5,430 tents and over 3,000 kilograms of rice to affected areas

KABUL: Flash flooding caused by heavy rain has killed over 20 people and destroyed more than 1,500 homes in Afghanistan, officials said on Monday.

Kandahar, Zabul, Farah and Herat were the worst affected areas, with more floods expected in the coming days, said Ahmad Tamim Azimi, a spokesperson for the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA).

Around 10 people are reported missing in southern Kandahar, which has borne the brunt of the bad weather. In total, 95 people have now lost their lives across the country due to heavy rain and avalanches in the space of a month.

Kabul has dispatched 40,000 blankets, 5,430 tents and over 3,000 kilograms of rice to affected areas, as well as reserving $700,000 to compensate victims, according to Najibullah Shaikhani, a senior official at ANDMA.

“We have rescued some 1,900 families from Herat, Farah and Kandahar alone, and another 100 people trapped in their vehicles by avalanches at the Shibar Pass,” he said, adding that military helicopters were playing a crucial role in flood-hit areas, as access by land had become difficult.

The Taliban also ordered its fighters to help affected families, and asked for aid to be dispatched to areas under its direct control.

The country’s meteorological department has warned more flooding in other parts of the country could be on the way, but despite the damage, not everyone is looking at the weather as a negative.

Afghanistan had previously been undergoing its worst drought in decades, displacing thousands of families dependent on agriculture to make a living.

“The snow and rain is a big relief. The level of water will go up, and that is essential for farming, animal husbandry and for the people in general,” Shamsuddin, a local farmer in Kabul, told Arab News.


Kashmir parties question the crackdown on dissidence

Indian paramilitary troopers stand guard as Kashmiri women walk past during the enforcement on restrictions of movement in Srinagar on March 10, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 5 min ago
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Kashmir parties question the crackdown on dissidence

  • In 2001, Malik was part of the dialogue process with the BJP government under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee

NEW DELHI: Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have questioned the wisdom of a ban on the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and called the crackdown on civil society groups and political activists an election gimmick.
“For four-and-half years Yasin Malik (the head of the JKLF) isn’t a threat, Jamaat-e-Islami isn’t a threat, and Pakistan National Day is a function that must be attended. Now suddenly once an election is announced an immediate U-turn is executed,” says Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state and leader of the National Conference (NC).
The president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti, who headed Kashmir as chief minister for close to two years in alliance with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), says that “detrimental steps like these will only turn Kashmir into an open-air prison. Yasin Malik renounced violence as a way of resolving the Jammu and Kashmir issue a long time ago.”
She added: “He was treated as a stakeholder in a dialogue initiated by the then-PM (of India) Vajpayee ji. What will a ban on his organization achieve?”
Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq denounced the ban: “Such anti-Kashmir tactics will not change the reality of the Kashmir issue nor the urgency to resolve it.”
On Friday evening, the Indian government banned the JKLF under the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba told the media that “the murders of Kashmiri Pandits by the JKLF in 1989 triggered their exodus from the Valley. Yasin Malik was the mastermind behind the purging of Kashmiri Pandits and is responsible for their genocide,” Mr. Gauba said.
The decision followed a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Two cases, including in the murder of Indian Air Force personnel, were registered by the Central Bureau Of Investigation. The National Investigative Agency has also registered a case which is under investigation. It is evident from these that JKLF continues to be actively engaged in supporting and inciting secessionism and terrorism,” he said.
The JKLF, which began as a militant organization in 1970 seeking independence for Kashmir, declared an indefinite cease-fire under the leadership of Malik in 1994.
He declared that he would pursue the Gandhian way of peaceful struggle.
His organization is part of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), a separatist alliance in the valley.
In 2001, Malik was part of the dialogue process with the BJP government under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee. In 2006, the JKLF was also part of the delegation of the separatist leaders who met Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to start the peace process with Pakistan.
“The Indian government is not concerned about Kashmir but only about the election. All this crackdown is to show to the voters in the mainstream that the Modi government is serious about containing terror,” says Professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain of the University Of Kashmir.
“The JKLF abdicated violence and has been following the peaceful resistance movement. Indian people should question the government why they pursuing this kind of destructive politics in the valley,” Hussain told Arab News.