Pakistani President Defends Flood Relief Efforts

SHADAD KOT, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistan's president is defending his government's much-criticized response to the country's record-breaking flood crisis.

The floods, which began nearly a month ago, have affected more than 17 million people and claimed about 1,500 lives.

President Asif Ali Zardari says anger at the government is inevitable given the scale of the disaster. He compared it to the criticism generated by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the United States.

Still, Zardari defends his handling of the crisis and says the government has "functioned to its fullest capacity."

Emergency workers are working frantically to shore up a system of levees protecting two southern cities.

The widespread misery of the floods has triggered speculation of social unrest, food riots or even a challenge to the government's rule before its term ends in 2013.

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