TIMERGARA: Jamaat-i-Islami chief Siraj ul Haq on Friday demanded the federal government to increase the amount to be given to the owner of fully damaged house to at least Rs 2.5 million instead of Rs 500,000 as it was impossible for a person to built a house in that amount.
Speaking at a news conference at the Balambat Ahya ul Uloom after finishing his visit to the flood affected areas of Lower dir and Upper Dir, the JI chief asked both the PDM and PTI leadership to come forward to help the flood victims across the country.
He said that he had visited almost all the flood affected areas in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including the Upper Swat and Kumrat. He said that it was the worst kind of devastation he ever saw in his life. The JI chief said the miseries of the flood victims could not be described in words. Appreciating the role of humanitarian organizations, especially the Al-Khidmat Foundation, he said they provided every possible relief to the victims across the country.
According to Mr Haq about 50 million people had been affected, thousands of houses damaged, livestock and standing crops washed away and businesses suffered badly due to the floods’ devastation. He said the United Nations’ Secretary General Antonio Guterres after seeing the damages and miseries of the affected people had admitted that it was a historical calamity. The JI chief asked the government to include members of the civil society like journalists, lawyers and traders in the foreign aid’s distribution in order to make the process more transparent.
He said the government had announced Rs 70 billion for relief and rehabilitation of the affected people but it was a meager amount. He said that losses only in Swat, Dir and Baluchistan were more than the amount the government had announced.
He said the rulers were not taking the matter seriously and they were engaged in power politics and they were not taking it as a national tragedy. He said the government and the opposition were pulling each other’s legs. He alleged the government resources like the helicopters were being used like ‘rickshaws’ for only aerial surveys by the rulers and there was nothing on the ground.
He said that millions of people were still waiting for the government relief and rehab activities.
“The winter is fast approaching and there will be snowfall in the hilly areas of Malakand after two months,” Siraj said, adding the government should immediately start rehabilitation of the homeless people or there would be another human tragedy if practical steps were not taken.
About the appointment of the new chief of army staff, the JI chief said that it should be made purely on seniority basis like the appointment of the chief justice of Pakistan. He however said the establishment too should distance itself from politics. Siraj ul Haq said the government should provide free of cost seeds, fertilizers and electricity to the flood hit farmers across the country as they were unable to stand on their own feet after the devastation.
He asked the PDM and PTI leadership to shun their petty politics at this moment and announce a ceasefire owing to the floods’ ravages. He said that both the major parties (PDM and PTI) were fighting only for power and they had nothing to do with the masses.
Criticizing the government he said the JI was rejecting the increase in the prices of gas, electricity and fuel. He announced that the JI had planned to challenge the extra taxes in the power bills in the Peshawar High Court very soon. He said that Malakand division had been affected by militancy, military operation, earthquakes and floods, so the government should declare it a tax-free zone till 2035. He said the federal government could not impose any tax without the permission of the provincial assembly so the people of Malakand would never accept any tax in the region.
The JI chief said that his party was fully supporting the employees of the educational boards as their demand for decentralization instead of centralization was genuine. He said the KP government had failed to maintain peace and order in the province as lawmakers were being attacked and letters for extortion were being sent to them. He said this time the people would never form ‘amn lashkar’ as it was the state responsibility to protect the public.
Responding to a query the JI chief said that both the PDM and PTI leadership looked toward the establishment. “They are fighting for the ‘feeder’ as they get it, they are pleased and as they lose it they begin to weep,” Siraj told in a light mood.