The Taliban hope to boost their influence by supplying aid faster than the authorities in the devastated northwestern disaster zone.
Millions have been made homeless by the floods
"The government is not doing anything for us," is a common complaint among the survivors. For days, the flood victims have been saying that the government's reaction has been slow and that there are food and water shortages. The poor response has offered a perfect chance to extremists to step in and say they are doing more than the authorities.
This is nothing new, explains an aid worker who wants her name and organization to remain anonymous: "I cannot exactly pinpoint the Taliban but different religious groups, that are very active in Pakistan, have always been the frontline of relief workers."
People in Karachi's slums have taken refuge in huge concrete pipes
Many terrorist groups, for example Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is suspected by India of being behind the bombings in Mumbai, claim to be charitable organisations.
Aid with a message
According to the US daily, The New York Times, aid supplies are delivered along with the message: "Don't trust the government and its western allies".
However, the aid worker says it is hard to tell how important the political message is and whether religious groups are using the situation for "their own purpose or for general relief as it could be a combination of both. You are grief struck, you're in a malnourished state, you have lost your home so this all creates a sort of emotional and psychological state which is very exploitable."
Religious groups in Pakistan have always been good at delivering aid packets and political messages together – not only the Taliban. The same happened after the 2005 earthquake, the aid worker, says when "they were very active. The first major relief work was done by local groups in the first 24, 36, 48 hours. The government and the machinery took a long time – that left a lot of legroom."
When a devastating earthquake shook Pakistan in October 2008, local religious groups were the first to provide aid
Gaining the hearts and minds of the people
UN special envoy Jean-Maurice Ripert confirms that the same is happening this time: "It's true that they are using any opportunity to advocate for their cause. It has nothing to do with the effort of the international community and the UN. You have to work. You have to help the people. To gain the hearts and the minds of the people. To show that the international community cares about the Pakistani people."
The fact that President Asif Ali Zardari visited France and Britain just as the floods were wreaking havoc and refused to cut short his trip has not helped matters.
He has promised to visit the disaster zone soon as part of efforts to "regain" the hearts and minds of the people.
Author: Kai Küstner/act
Editor: Disha Uppal