Pakistani flood survivors struggle for a bag of wheat flour at a flooded area of Pathan Wala earlier today.
In "Last Chance for Pakistan," a post on NYR Blog, Ahmed Rashid says that, while flooding in Pakistan has affected some 20 million people and at least one-fifth of the country's land mass, the international community should be concerned with how the disaster could affect the country's stability.
"...even greater than the human cost of this devastating event are the security challenges it poses," he writes. "Coming at a time of widespread unrest, growing Taliban extremism, and increasingly shaky civilian government, the floods could lead to the gravest security crisis the country — and the region — has faced."
Unless the international community takes immediate action to provide major emergency aid and support, the country risks turning into what until now has remained only a grim, but remote possibility — a failed state with nuclear weapons.
Since the flooding began, hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis have been displaced, whole villages have been ruined, and food and water remain in short supply.
"But the next few months could be even worse, as the collapse of governance and growing desperation of flooded areas leads to increasing social and ethnic tensions, terrible food shortages, and the threat that large parts of the country, now cut off from Islamabad, will be taken over by the Pakistani Taliban and other extremist groups," Rashid argues.