As Pakistan’s humanitarian emergency intensifies, the European Union is reportedly planning its first summit with the trouble-torn country.
Appeals for food, medicine and shelter are multiplying, as people flee fighting between the army and Taliban militants. The total number of those displaced could, it is warned, reach half a million. Many civilians desperate to escape the clashes have not been able to do so because of a curfew. It is being lifted briefly today to enable them to flee. Mian Iftikhar, the North-West Frontier Province’s Information Minister, urged “concrete steps” from the international community to alleviate what he called a “humanitarian crisis.” The battle in the Swat Valley has become a test of Pakistan’s resolve to fight a growing insurgency that has alarmed the West. Aiming to flush out militants from the Islamist stronghold and halt the spread of Taliban control, the army is waging a full-scale offensive.