The operation to rescue communities cut off by devastating floods in Pakistan is “almost complete”, the army says.
Major General Athar Abbas told the BBC the mission had been hampered by the weather, rejecting criticism that the authorities had been slow to respond.
Forecasters say more rain and flooding is likely over the next few days.
Some 1,400 people have died and aid agencies say three million people have been affected by Pakistan’s worst floods in 80 years.
Flood damage Renewed rain on Tuesday slowed the relief effort, and the government’s perceived inaction has led to protests in some areas over the past few days. But Maj Gen Abbas said 50,000 troops had been drafted in to help in the rescue operation – and had even given out their own rations to villagers.
“In Malakand [one of the worst-affected areas] not a single bridge is intact, the complete communication infrastructure has been destroyed, and therefore there have been areas which have got isolated and aid reached quite late,” he said.
“But the rescue operation has almost been completed… now it is basically relief – a lot of relief camps have come up, the medical aid is there and the soldiers have given their own rations out”.
The United Nations said around 980,000 people had lost their homes or had been forced to flee, and the UN World Food Programme said some 1.8 million needed food aid.