ISLAMABAD (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Thursday said with the country facing severe challenges, including the worst flooding in history, there was a need for all to join hands to pay heed to the miseries of flood-hit masses by leaving the politicking and political differences aside.
“Millions of people are sitting under the open sky and waiting for some Masiha (saviour) to come to their help. If we have to save the people of Pakistan and its future, we have to work together with courage, brotherhood and harmony. Let’s resolve to be together in this hour of need,” the prime minister told media-persons from the print and electronic mediums.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who informed the newsmen about the huge human and material losses caused by the floods, observed that at a time when the nation was facing the severe floods’ situation, those who talked about Riasat-e-Madina, were busy in the activities, contrary to their claims. “Is it the politics?” he questioned without naming any party.
The prime minister also urged the media-persons to play their role in uniting the nation to face the challenges. Shehbaz Sharif said with the Sindh province hit the most by the current floods, which were worst in the country’s history – much bigger than the 2010 floods in terms of their spread and devastation.
“Over 1,300 deaths and many more injured due to the floods; thousands of villages in Sindh inundated; rice, cotton and date-palm crops on millions of acres were destroyed and the human life had come to a standstill,” he added. The prime minister said with the houses of poor destroyed and around 700,000 cattle and livestock lost in the floods, over 33 million people had been affected.
After Sindh, Balochistan was the most affected province followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Southern Punjab and some parts of Gilgit-Baltistan, he added. The prime minister said as rescue and relief efforts were continuing in the flood affected areas through effective coordination among the NDMA, the PDMAs and the NFRCC, the federal and provincial governments were doing their best to help the flood-hit people.
Besides, he said, the personnel of Pakistan Army, Navy and Air Force were also busy in carrying out rescue and relief operations round the clock by using their resources, including boats and helicopters. The prime minister said the federal government, which had earlier allocated Rs 28 billion for the flood affected area across the country as per initial assessment of damages, had now enhanced that amount to Rs 70 billion after the latest assessment of losses.
As the Federal Government had announced the financial assistance of Rs 25,000 per affected family in the flood-hit areas, an amount of Rs 20 billion had already been distributed among the victim families through a transparent process under the BISP, he added. Shehbaz Sharif further said that Rs one million each was also being paid to the heirs of over 1,300 people, who lost their lives in the floods. Rs 70 billion allocated by the Federal Government did not include any foreign funding, he added. He also mentioned with praise the generous relief goods being dispatched through an air-bridge created by the friendly countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Australia and others.
US solidarity, assistance crucial for rehab: PM
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday while calling the rehabilitation and reconstruction of flood-hit areas formidable challenges, said that the continued support, solidarity and assistance from the United States was crucial for the purpose.
The prime minister, in a meeting with Senior Policy Advisor to the US Secretary of State Derek Chollet, who called on him, said the government was fully engaged in the rescue and relief efforts. He thanked Derek Chollet for visiting Pakistan at a critical moment when the country had been adversely affected by the most devastating flood in its history, with millions affected and displaced.
The prime minister told the foreign dignitary that over 33 million had been affected; more than 1,300 lives lost; and immeasurable damage was caused to agriculture, livestock, property, and critical infrastructure. He also cautioned about the likely outbreak of water-borne diseases. Prime Minister Sharif underlined that Pakistan was committed to deepen and widen its ties, especially in the areas of security, health, climate change, trade and investment. He emphasized the need for a constructive and sustained engagement between the two countries, based on the principles of mutual trust, respect and understanding.
While highlighting the devastating impacts of climate change on the planet, the prime minister called for stepping up international efforts to meet climate goals, including mobilizing climate finance to better cope with this challenge. In the regional context, he stressed the importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, and called for unfreezing of the Afghan assets. He also emphasized the need for enhanced engagement with the Afghan authorities.
Underlining Pakistan’s commitment to promote peace in the region, including with India, the prime minister highlighted the need for resolution of long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute, as per the UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Derek Chollet expressed heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the government and people of Pakistan at the precious lives, resulting from the riverine floods in Pakistan. On behalf of the Biden Administration, he affirmed that the US would stand by Pakistan in the wake of this immense challenge, extend vital support, and help affected people rebuild their lives and communities.
US announces to operate massive 10-day humanitarian air bridge to Pakistan: The United States will operate a massive humanitarian air bridge to Pakistan over the next 10 days to provide relief supplies to the flood-affected people, Counselor of the US State Department Derek Chollet said on Thursday.
Derek Chollet, the special aide to US State Secretary Antony Blinken, told media that the US remained steadfast in its support for affected communities across Pakistan through additional humanitarian assistance besides the already announced $30 million relief package. Twenty US C-17 military aircraft will land in Pakistan carrying the food and shelter material worth $2.2 million as critical humanitarian assistance for flood response.
Counselor Chollet, who led a US interagency delegation to Pakistan, earlier in the day met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Asked about the US announcement to work with the United Nations to raise $160 million for flood victims, Chollet said the US was approaching other countries and allies to meet the appeal of the UN Secretary-General.
He said the US was committed to doing its part with its partners in the international community to help Pakistan respond to the terrible disaster. “The US wants to lead by example by helping the communities in Pakistan during difficult times,” he said.
The US through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will coordinate with the local aid agencies for the distribution of relief goods and assistance. Derek Chollet said the US wanted to strengthen defence relationship with Pakistan and also had a good partnership on counter-terrorism.
On the State Department’s decision regarding sustainment of F-16 military aircraft, he termed it “an important step in the military relationship with Pakistan.” He said the Pak-US relationship was “broader and richer” encompassing trade, civil society and people-to-people relationship, flood relief, and reconstruction, and the largest Fulbright scholarship for students besides the bilateral and security ties.
On energy cooperation, he said the US was helping Pakistan with the production of clean and green energy considering it a valuable future commodity for the globe. He mentioned that as the U.S also suffered the brunt of climate change like wildfires, super storms, and drought, therefore it was committed to helping the countries like Pakistan to prevent such flood-like incidents happen again.
In commemoration of 75 years of diplomatic relations wth Pakistan, Counselor Chollet said his meetings with the Pakistani leadership and senior officials discussed a wide range of issues including improving trade and investment ties, defence ties, cooperation to mitigate the climate crisis, and expanding people-to-people connections.