Pakistan cancels celebrations of independence

Samson Desta and Reza Sayah at CNN:

Pakistan_flag_wave2 One-fifth of Pakistan — which is about the size of Florida — has been flooded in relentless monsoon rains, the United Nations says. Nearly 1,400 people have died and 875,000 homes have either washed away or are damaged, according to Pakistan's Disaster Authority.

Millions more are still at peril as the bloated Indus River is cresting this weekend in parts of Sindh province. In some areas, the Indus has expanded from its usual width of one mile to 12 miles.

Homes, crops, trees, livestock, entire villages and towns have been transformed into vast lakes.

The worst floods since Pakistan's creation have disrupted the lives of about 20 million people, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Saturday.

Surrounded by a tragedy of epic proportions, Pakistanis canceled Saturday's celebrations of independence, hard won from the British in 1947. They might have otherwise attended parades, burst firecrackers and waved the green and white flag proudly.

Instead, President Asif Ali Zardari, under fire for a perceived lack of government response, toured flood-ravaged Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the north, where the crisis began more than two weeks ago. He urged Pakistanis to remember the afflicted.

More here. To contribute to Pakistan's flood relief efforts, go here.