"I want to see the affected people personally. The losses sustained by them have pained?
"I want to see the affected people personally. The losses sustained by them have pained me immensely." With these words, the Pakistan Prime Minister Zulifkar Ali Bhutto flew out to the devastated area of Sharakpur on Friday (August 17) to see the damage caused by the worst floods in history. Sharakpur, which is about 23 miles from Lahore, was the first place struck by the floods in the sweep through the Punjab. Half of the area has been eroded away by the Ravi river. The Prime Minister spent a week touring the flooded areas.
Earlier, Prime Minister Bhutto had said development activities would have to be curtailed, and more funds used for flood rehabilitation. He said the entire resources of Pakistan would need to be used to overcome the losses, which had caused great damage to the economy.
Conservative estimates put the death toll in the floods at 132, but unofficial reports put it at 1,500, with several thousand people missing. There are also reports of outbreaks of malaria, cholera and dysentery. Officials were deciding where to breach the embankment lining the swollen Indus River -- the source of the floodwater. The river is proving too much for flood control gates to handle, and it seems there will have to be a breach about 200 miles north of Karachi.
Latest reports indicate that the situation in the Punjab is improving slowly. The flood waters are pushing downriver into Sind Province, leaving behind devastation and wasted farmland.