ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said as nation marked the Defence Day, the similar spirit of sacrifice and resilience was required to cope with the current grave challenges in the wake of floods.
In his initial remarks while chairing the meeting of the federal cabinet, he said as the country grappled with unprecedented floods and other challenges, there was a need to recall the spirit of 1965. The prime minister termed unity as the greatest strength of the Pakistani nation to deal with the challenges effectively.
He said over 30 million people were facing the brunt of flash floods in the shape of loss of lives, infrastructure and crops. PM Sharif paid tribute to the martyrs of 1965 war who laid down their lives for the safety and security of the country. Shehbaz said together, the armed forces and the people had thwarted the Indian machinations to undermine the national integrity. In view of the heavy losses due to floods, he said, the government had decided to observe the Defence Day with simplicity. However, he said, the resting places of the martyrs would be adorned with the wreaths and prayers would be offered for their souls.
The Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also emphasized devising a comprehensive strategy jointly chalked out by the federal and provincial governments for the restoration of infrastructure in flood-affected areas. The prime minister said it was time for all not to indulge in politicking, but to serve the masses. The prime minister mentioned that the flood-hit areas faced numerous issues related to water drainage, infrastructure breakdown, and connectivity.
He said besides public departments, several private entities including chambers of commerce and industries had expressed their desire to contribute to the relief and rehabilitation process. PM Sharif said the government had increased the financial assistance for flood-affected people under Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) from Rs 28 billion to Rs 70 billion.
He said the government had provided Rs 5 billion to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for dispensation of compensation money in first phase, while additional Rs 3 billion would also be provided. He mentioned that the floods had resulted in a gross loss of lives, infrastructure, livestock, and crops. The prime minister said work was in full swing in the flood-affected areas for relief and rehabilitation.
He said several friendly countries were sending relief goods to Pakistan in the wake of heavy damage incurred by recent flash floods. He thanked the cabinet members, ministries, public departments, and national media for highlighting the issue of floods at the international level and making their best efforts to mitigate the sufferings of flood victims.