Pakistan flood damage $9.5 billion

KARACHI (Reuters) – Pakistan’s recent floods inflicted $9.5 billion in damage to property, crops and infrastructure, according to an Asian Development Bank and World Bank assessment, Finance Ministry officials said on Wednesday.

Aside from trying to cope with that direct damage, the government may face total recovery costs of $30 billion, Finance Ministry officials said, although they had not seen the report.

If that figure of total costs proves correct, it will likely disappoint the government, which had estimated damage at $43 billion. The lower estimate will probably mean less aid.

Pakistan may not be able to manage billions of dollars of financial support needed for reconstruction, a reality that worries the United States, which wants stability in an ally seen as vital in its war on militancy.

The government is often preoccupied by one crisis after another, from feuding politicians to waves of Muslim militant suicide bombings to showdowns with the powerful Supreme Court.

If aid money does not reach millions of flood-victims soon, unpopular Pakistani leaders will lose more credibility, and Taliban insurgents may capitalize on hardship to gain recruits.

“We will prioritize our total budget. We will not wait for the world to gives us or not give us (aid). We will provide whatever funds are needed to give homes to homeless people,” Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani told a rally.

At the heart of Pakistan’s latest turmoil is an amnesty law that allowed some politicians to return after years of exile but which was thrown out in December 2009 by the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court rejects a government appeal against the overturning of the law, which is likely, that could open the door to attempts to prosecute government leaders, including President Asif Ali Zardari.

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