SUKKUR, Pakistan – As the disastrous floods recede in Pakistan, something new is rising: suspicions and rumors that powerful officials and landowners used their influence to divert water away from their property and inundate the villages and fields of millions of poor Pakistanis.
The claims are difficult to verify and in some cases may be exaggerated. Yet they have spread like wildfire across the waterlogged countryside, further outraging many flood victims already upset at the government's failure to provide enough food, clean water and shelter.
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 harbored a deep mistrust toward their government and the landowning elite.
"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.