Shehbaz Sharif says US solidarity, assistance crucial for rehabilitation, reconstruction of flood-hit areas n US will stand by Pakistan in the wake of immense challenge: Derek Chollet n Oldest heritage site Moenjodaro badly damaged by flooding n 35 more die in Sindh.

 

 

ISLAMABAD    -   Prime Minister Sheh­baz Sharif Thursday called for forging unity in wake of the devastation caused by floods in the country. Talking to rep­resentatives of print and electronic media in Is­lamabad on Thursday, he said it is time to put wel­fare of flood victims at center of our priorities.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan is facing an unprecedented situ­ation. Highlighting the welfare program intro­duced by federal gov­ernment for flood vic­tims, he said total amount of cash assis­tance program has been increased from 28 bil­lion to seventy billion rupees. He said BISP has already disbursed over twenty billion ru pees in a transparent way. Shehbaz Sharif said transparency in utilization of all funds be ensured at any cost. Ex­pressing gratitude to the internation­al donors, he said UAE, Qatar, Turkey, United States and United Kingdom have donated generously.

Prime Minister 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 National Di­saster Management Authority (NDMA), the Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs) and the National Flood Response and Coordination Cen­ter (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 Benazir Income Support Program (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 ASSISTANCE CRUCIAL FOR REHABILITATION, RECONSTRUCTION’

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 Adviser 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 popula­tion had been affected; more than 1,300 lives lost; and immeasurable damage was caused to agriculture, livestock, property and 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 U.S. would stand by Pakistan in the wake of this im­mense challenge, extend vital support, and help affected people rebuild their lives and communities.

Meanwhile, the unprecedented torren­tial monsoon rains across the country on Thursday inflicted further lives and prop­erty losses as the 36 more people died in past 24 hours, taking the total death count in various incidents to 1,391 and 12,722 individuals got injured since the onset of the rainy season. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) issued a 24-hour situation report re­leased on routine basis that accounted overall life, property and infrastructure losses incurred by the heavy rains lashing out various parts of the country.

While flooding receded in some parts of the country in recent days, landslides and floods continue to result in wide­spread devastation, generating signif­icant humanitarian needs. More than 80 districts are designated as “calami­ty hit” nationwide. According to the Na­tional Disaster Management Authority, more than 33 million people have been affected by flooding and heavy rainfall. Additionally, around 637,000 people in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan are living in relief camps, while many more are displaced. Limit­ed access to health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services increases the risk of disease transmission among affected populations.

The heavy rains and flash floods caused maximum deaths of 35 individ­uals in Sindh province including eight men, four women and nine children in Jamshoro, three men, a woman and child in Shaheed Benazirabad, two men in Noushero Feroze, a man and two chil­dren died due to electrocution in Badin, a woman died due to collapse of house in Ghotki, two children drowned in pond and a child died due to snake bite in Tan­do Muhammad Khan.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the pro­vincial disaster management authori­ty (PDMA KP) updated its data from Au­gust 17 to 27. However, in past 24 hours a man died in Dera Ismail Khan.

There was no incident or loss to report in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Gilg­it Baltistan (GB), Punjab, Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). In Ba­lochistan, M-8 (100-140 km) was blocked due to land sliding in 24 kilometers (km) section of Wangu hills whereas 2 kms area was cleared and restoration work in process. In KP, N-95 Madyan was blocked between Behrain-Ashrait (23 km) and Laikot-Kalam section (8 km) was blocked due to debris whereas Frontier Works Or­ganization (FWO) was creating diversion at these locations. In Sindh, N-55 from Meher Johi Canal to Khairpur Nathan Shah was submerged and the road would open after drainage of water.

‘NATIONAL FLOOD RESPONSE COORDINATION CENTRE’

Deputy Chairman of the National Flood Response Coordination Centre (NFRCC) Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday requested the civil administration of all the federating units to accelerate the relief efforts in flood-affected areas.

While chairing a session of the NFRCC, Iqbal directed officials to focus on the rehabilitation of flood victims and re­quested them to ensure that the affect­ees’ return to their normal daily life. The session of the Flood Response Centre was co-chaired by national coordinator NFRCC Major General Muhammad Zafar Iqbal. Discussing relief efforts, the min­ister of communication and Railways in­formed the forum regarding the infra­structure and Railways rehabilitation plan as well as the latest meteorological and flood situation.