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Accept Indian aid, no role for politics in disaster: US to Pak

Source: PTI
August 19, 2010 09:46 IST
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Asserting that there is no role for politics in disaster response, the Obama administration has said it expects Pakistan to accept the $ 5 million aid offer from India for its flood relief work.

"In terms of responding to a disaster, politics should play no role. You have a country (India) that's willing to help (Pakistan), and we expect that Pakistan will accept," State Department spokesman P J Crowley said.

Last week, Minister of External Affairs S M Krishna had called on his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi and offered $ 5 million in aid for flood relief work.

Pakistan, so far, had not accepted the offer while at the same time its leaders have been sending SOS to the international community for more and more aid so as to meet the immediate needs of its millions of flood-affected people.

Nearly one-fifth of Pakistan is now reported to be badly hit by the devastating flood; the worst for the country in 80 years.

Crowley, given the changed circumstance, said the US has began to think about what it would do with that long-term security assistance provided under Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill and that could require the US shifting it from what it thought was a priority three weeks ago to what is a priority today.

"I think what we'll have to wait and see is what are the mid- to long-term economic needs of Pakistan that we could use that funding to address. I guess we would also consider more immediate needs as they arise," he said.

Frank Ruggiero, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan also asked Pakistan to accept India's aid.

"I think the priority is to use offers of assistance to help the Pakistani people, so we would encourage Government of Pakistan to accept that (Indian) offer," he said.

Ruggiero said that the US would continue to call on the international community to provide the people of Pakistan with the support it needs at this dire time, as the scale of this flood was so dramatic.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has arrived in New York to attend the special meeting of United Nations General Assembly on the flood relief work, where he is expected to ask the member states to help Pakistan with more international aid.

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would also address the UNGA's special session on Pakistan. She is expected to announce more US aid for Pakistan. The US so far has provided $ 90 million worth of aid.

Mark Ward, Acting Director for USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance said Pakistan floods was one of the greatest challenges as 17 million Pakistani people were affected; six million of those needing urgent attention.

Acknowledging that donor fatigue was an issue and has reflected in the international response to the disaster assistance for the flood relief work, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz said "but I think it's not an issue for the US.I think other governments around the world continue to make relief response a very high priority."

"The international community will need to provide even more additional assistance, that the need is extreme at this point, and that the international community and the United States will have to provide support to the Pakistani Government to deal with it," said Ruggiero.

Meanwhile, leading rights activist of Pakistan Ansar Burney has also exhorted the government to accept India's offer.

"This is the first time Indian government has shown a very positive attitude towards Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks and government of Pakistan should respond positively to the kind gesture of love of the Indian Government for the sake of flood victims and also for the sake of peace in the region," Burney said in a statement.

Burney said the "hypocrite government," President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, on one hand beg with the world for help and accept all donations and on the other hand they are not accepting a donation of 'love and peace from India.'

The chairman of the Ansar Burney Trust International and former federal minister for human rights said a vast area of Pakistan has been affected by flood and hundreds of thousands of people have been dislocated from their homes.

"This is the time we should get all help we can so as to repatriate these victims of flood to their homes. This is not the time to bring bad memories from the past or to scratch old wounds," he added.

He said Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has brought forward a friendly hand by announcing five million dollars in flood aid and Pakistan should hold this hand with the same friendly spirit.

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