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September 08, 2010 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-09-08

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8A - Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Landowners suspected of
diverting floods in Pakistan

Wealthy may have
redirected water to
poor villages
SUKKUR, Pakistan (AP) - As
the disastrous floods recede in Pak-
istan, something new is rising: sus-
picions and rumors that powerful
officials and landowners used their
influence to divert water away from
their property and inundate the vil-
lages and fields of millions of poor
The claims are difficult to verify
and in some cases may be exag-
gerated. Yet they have spread like
wildfire across the waterlogged
countryside, further outraging
many flood victims already upset
at the government's failure to pro-
vide enough food, clean water and
One of the risks is that Islamist
militants could seize on growing
anger to increase support for their
war against the state. Even before
the floods, many Pakistanis har-
bored a deep mistrust toward their
government and the landowning
"The politicians and the rich
and powerful just sacrificed the
people," said 30-year-old farmer
Mohammed Yousuf, who lost his
home and 11 cattle last month when
floodwaters surging down the
Indus River swept across southern
Sindh province.
The floods, which were triggered
by extremely heavy monsoon rains
in the northwest at the end of July,
have killed more than 1,600 people
across Pakistan and affected some
17 million others. At its peak, the
flood covered one-fifth of the coun-
try - an area larger than England.
Many people suspect powerful
Pakistanis were able to manipulate
the flow of water by influencing
whichlevees were breached. Levees
are tall dirt and rock embankments
meant to prevent a river from over-
flowing and can be intentionally
breached using explosives or heavy
It was impossible to verify the
validity of the different accusa-
tions, but it was clear that many of

the allegations were being leveled
at the powerful by the largely pow-
Outrage has been especially pro-
nounced in northern Sindh where
hundreds of thousands of people -
including Yousuf - watched floods
swamp their fields and destroy
their homes as the lands of a federal
minister on the opposite side of the
Indus remained dry.
Many of these flood victims are
convinced Labor Minister Khur-
sheed Shah pushed the government
to deliberately breach a levee upriv-
er to save his property. The water
that surged through the Tori Bund
levee inundated dozens of villages
and towns west of the river, an area
that is more densely populated than
the eastern side, where Shah's lands
"Khursheed Shah is a tyrant!"
shouted Masood Ahmed, a25-year-
old vegetable vendor in Karampur,
a town near the western bank of
the Indus that wasentirely sur-
roundedby water. "He is the enemy
of humanity!"
The labor minister denied any
wrongdoing and Sindh Irrigation
Minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo has
said Tori Bund was not breachedby
the government but ruptured when
water flowing down the Indus
surged unexpectedly.
Residents said they were unpre-
pared for the sudden influx of water
because they had assumed authori-
ties would breach the Ali Wan levee
on the eastern bank just as they had
done when floods threatened the
area in 1976 - a move they accused
Shah of opposing.
"I had to choose between saving
my family or my cattle," said Shafi
Mohammed, 30, sitting beneath a
makeshift shelter beside a road near
Karampur. He rescued his wife and
six children but lost his home, most
of his possessions and two of his
five water buffalo.
Noor Mohammad Baloch, an
engineer and former chairman
of Pakistan's Indus River System
Authority, supported the govern-
ment's explanation of the Tori
Bund breach and said it reduced the
water pressure enough so that the
Ali Wan levee could remain intact.

But flood victims dismissed the
explanation and demanded an inde-
pendent investigation.
There was more controversy as
high water headed farther west.
Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, a
former prime minister, criticized
members of the Sindh government
for breaching a levee to divert water
toward Baluchistan, Pakistan's
poorest province.
The decision saved the city of
Jacobabad, with about 300,000 res-
idents, and a nearby air base, but it
swamped homes and fields of 1 mil-
lion people in Baluchistan.
"If it's a national calamity, we
bow down our heads in front of the
almighty, but if it is mismanage-
ment, let an inquiry be held," said
Farther north, lawmaker Jam-
shed Dasti from Muzaffargargh
district in central Punjab province
accused two powerful landowning
families - the Khosas and the Han-
jras - of persuading authorities
not to breach levees on the western
side of the tndus that would have
swamped their property.
As a result, water broke through a
levee on the eastern side of the river
and inundated much of Muzaffar-
gargh, a more densely populated
area of some 3 million people, he
"They wouldn't care even if
thousands of people had died," said
Dasti, who is seen as a champion of
the poor in a district dominated by
landowners. "Their only interest
is to secure their lands. They treat
common people as animals."
Ali Ahmad, a farmer in the town
of Sanawan in Muzaffargargh, said
the flooding caught people by sur-
prise because everyone expected
the water to be directed to the west-
ern side of the river.
"But one morning at around 5
a.m. we woke up to a chaotic situ-
ation," Ahmad said. "There was
water everywhere and we had to
run to safety."
The two landowning families
have denied Dasti's allegations, say-
ing the decision about which levees
should be breached was a technical
matter that was decided indepen-
dently by the government.

Rev. Terry Jones poses at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. on August 30. Jones vows to go ahead with plans
to burn copies of the Quran to protest the Sept.11, 2001 terrorist attacks despite warnings from the White House and the top
U.S. general in Afghanistan that doing so would endanger American troops overseas.
Pressure increases on pastor
who wants to burn Quran

U.S. officials warn
reverend of possible
government turned up the pres-
sure yesterday on the head of a
small Florida church who plans to
burn copies of the Quran on Sept.
11, warning him that doing so could
endanger U.S. troops and Ameri-
cans everywhere.
But the Rev. Terry Jones insisted
he would go ahead with his plans,
despite criticism from the top U.S.
general in Afghanistan, the White
House and the State Department,
as well as a host of religious leaders.
Jones, who is known for posting
signs proclaiming that Islam is the
devil's religion, says the Constitu-
tion gives him the right to publicly
set fire to the book that Muslims
consider the word of God.
Gen.David Petraeus warned yes-
terday in an e-mail to The Associat-
ed Press that "images of the burning
of a Quran would undoubtedly be
used b f extremists in Afghani-
stan - and around the world - to
inflametpublic opinion and-incite
violence." It was a rare example
of a military commander taking
a position on a domestic political
Jones responded that he is also
concerned but is "wondering,
'When do we stop?"' He refused to
cancel the protest set for Saturday
at his Dove World Outreach Cen-
ter, a church that espouses an anti-
Islam philosophy.
"How much do we back down?
How many times do we back
down?" Jones told the AP. "Instead
of us backing down, maybe it's to
time to stand up. Maybe it's time to
send amessage to radicalIslam that
we will not tolerate their behavior."
Still, Jones said he will pray
about his decision.
State Department spokesman
P.J. Crowley said the administra-
tion hoped Americans would stand

up and condemn the church's plan.
"We think that these are pro-
vocative acts," Crowley said. "We
would like to see more Americans
stand up and say that this is incon-
sistent with our American values;
in fact, these actions themselves are
Meeting yesterday with religious
leaders to discuss recent attacks on
Muslims and mosques around the
U.S., Attorney General Eric Holder
called the planned burning both
idiotic and dangerous, according
to a Justice Department official.
The official requested anonymity
because the meeting was private.
Secretary of State Hillary Rod-
ham Clinton added her disapproval
at a dinner yesterday evening in
observance of Iftar, the breaking
of the daily fast during the Muslim
holy month of Ramadan.
"I am heartened by the clear,
unequivocal condemnation of this
disrespectful, disgraceful act that
has come from American religious
leaders of all faiths," Clinton said.
At the White House, spokes-
man Robert Gibbs echoed the
concerns raised by Petraeus. "Any
type of activity like that that puts
our troops in harm's way would be
a concern to this administration,"
Gibbs told reporters.
Jones said he has received more
than 100 death threats and has
started wearing a .40-caliber pistol
strapped to his hip.
The 58-year-old minister said
the death threats started not long
after he proclaimed in July that he
would stage "International Burn-a-
Quran Day." Supporters have been
mailing copies of the Islamic holy
text to his church to be incinerated
in a bonfire.
Jones, who has about SO follow-
ers, gained some local notoriety last
year when he posted signs in front of
his small church declaring "Islam is
of the Devil." Buthis Quran-burning
scheme attracted wider attention. It
drew rebukes from Muslim nations
and anavalancheofmediainterview
requests just as an emotional debate

was taking shape over the proposed
Islamic center near the ground zero
site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in
New York.
The Quran, according to Jones,
is "evil" because it espouses some-
thing other than biblical truth and
incites radical, violent behavior
among Muslims.
"It's hard for people to believe,
but we actually feel this is a mes-
sage that we have been called to
bring forth," he said last week. "And
because of that, we do not feel like
we can back down."
Muslims consider the Quran to
be the word of God and insist it be
treated with the utmost respect,
along with any printed material
containing its verses or the name of
Allah or the Prophet Muhammad.
Any intentional damage or show of
disrespect to the Quran is deeply
Jones' Dove Outreach Center is
independent of any denomination.
The church follows the Pentecostal
tradition, which teaches that the
Holy Spirit can manifest itself in
the modern day. Pentecostals often
view themselves as engaged in spir-
itual warfare against satanic forces.
At first glance, the church looks
like a warehouse rather than a place
of worship. A stone facade and a
large lighted cross adorn the front
of the beige steel building, which
stands on 20 acres in Gainesville's
leafy northern suburbs. Jones and
his wife, Sylvia, live on the property
and also use part of it to store furni-
ture that they sell on eBay.
A broad coalition of religious
leaders from evangelical, Roman
Catholic, Jewish and Muslim orga-
nizations met in Washington on
Tuesday and condemned the plan
to burn the Quran as a violation of
American values.
"This is not the America that
we all have grown to love and care
about," said Rabbi Steve Gutow
of the Jewish Council for Public
Affairs. "We have to stand up for
our Muslim brothers and sisters
and say, "This is not OK."'


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Michigan lawmakers agree
on some parts of state budget *

State agencies may
see 3-percent cut in
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Mich-
igan's legislative leaders and Gov.
Jennifer Granholm's administra-
tion agreed in concept yesterday
on ways to balance the state bud-
get, a significant step toward get-
ting a final plan in place by an Oct.
1 deadline.
Legislative leaders and Gra-
nholm recently have worked on
plans that include spending cuts
of about 3 percent for most state
agencies, some sort of retire-
ment incentive program for state
workers and a tax amnesty pro-
gram. All of the ideas were most
recently proposed by Granholm
last month.
Spokespeople for Granholm,
Republican Senate Majority Lead-
er Mike Bishop and Democratic
House Speaker Andy Dillon would
not confirm details of the plan -
which hadn't yet been signed by
negotiators - late yesterday.
Granholm spokeswoman Liz
Boyd said the agreement on bud-
get targets was expected to be
signed Wednesday and that the

administration would comment
The agreement would include
targets for erasing a general fund
deficit of $302 million this fiscal
year and a shortfall of $484 mil-
lion for the budget year that begins
Oct. 1. It's the final round of annual
budget bargaining between the
term-limited Granholm and legis-
lative leaders, many of whom will
be in new jobs - in and out of state
government - at the beginning of
next year.
Committees made up of mem-
bers from the Republican-led Sen-
ate and Democrat-run House will
have to iron out specifics of budget
proposals before putting them up
for votes in the Legislature. Some
proposals could be tough to pass,
such as the retirement incentive
idea that's been greeted with skep-
ticism by some Democrats.
Union leaders have been against
a similar plan that was passed ear-
lier this year for the state's public
school employees because workers
who stay on the job have to con-
tribute more to a retiree health
care fund.
Michigan's public schools
should be safe from further bud-
get cuts, but many other agencies
will be asked to deepen spending

reductions they've made in recent
years. Granholm has said that can
be done without layoffs, but labor
union leaders aren't sure where the
savings would come from instead.
"I think it's going to be a real
challenge," said Ray Holman, leg-
islative liaison for United Auto
Workers Local 6000, which rep-
resents about 17,000 state work-
ers. "We just don't have any more
things to cut."
Michigan lawmakers have
missed the Oct. 1 budget deadline
in two of the past three years. The
worst consequence of missing bud-
get deadlines was a partial govern-
mentshutdown of about four hours
in 2007.
Michigan's constitution
requires a balanced budget.
Michigan Supreme Court Chief
Justice Marilyn Kelly and Justice
Diane Hathaway, both nominated
by Democrats, would have granted
"The Tea Party" request to appeal
and further contest the case.
The majority was formed by
three Republican-nominated jus-
tices and two Democratic-nom-
inated justices, including Alton
Thomas Davis, who was appointed
to the Supreme Court by Demo-
cratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm last


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