EP: Karachi – Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari interrupted his European vacation to return to Pakistan and inspect damage to his personal property caused by the recent floods. Pakistan is facing its worst natural disaster in over a century as flooding from monsoon rains threatens to bury up to one-third of the country under water. Some estimates project that more than 25 million people will be directly impacted by the disaster. Zardari was vacationing in Paris and more recently in Moscow when news of the floods reached him. Although aides to the President said he was initially hesitant to return his home country to oversee relief efforts, he was convinced to do so when reports that his 30,000 square foot mansion in Karachi was directly in the path of an oncoming flood.The president was able to return in time to commit military and civilian resources to divert the flood’s path into an adjacent village, killing half its population and all but wiping away most of its homes and businesses.
Zardari also chartered several military helicopters to collect his personal valuables and cash from various properties around the country in advance of a potential second round of flooding. “You simply cannot be too certain, as the flooding situation is really touch and go” he said to reporters while supervising the transfer of his possessions from one helicopter that arrived earlier this morning. The personal possessions will be stored at various undisclosed high-altitude locations until the crisis is over. The helicopters were pressed into duty after Zardari demanded that they abandon all rescue operations and recover his belongings immediately.
Senior officials said the President will resume his vacation once he is satisfied that all possible measures have been taken to preserve his private property. A senior aide told reporters that Zardari “will keep the flood victims in his thoughts and prayers during his upcoming diplomatic tour of the French Riviera.”
MM contributed to this report.