He hoped that the plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly on flood situation in Pakistan scheduled for August 19 would serve as a catalyst for the mobilization of much needed international support for the affected areas in Pakistan.
The Prime Minister was talking to Mr Ban Ki – Moon, UN Secretary General who called on him at the Prime Minister’s House here on Sunday. And thanked the UN Secretary General for his personal interest in expediting relief assistance and termed his visit as a source of great encouragement for the government and people of Pakistan particularly for the flood victims in these trying times.
The Prime Minister apprised the Secretary General of the colossal devastation caused by this unprecedented natural calamity and identified four areas of immediate requirements i.e. provision of tents, food stuff, medical supplies and water filtration plants for the affected people.
The Prime Minister stated that while his government has mobilized all its national resources to provide rescue and relief in the flood affected areas but the scale and magnitude of the challenge was much beyond the capacity of a developing country like Pakistan or perhaps even a developed country. He highlighted the fact that in order to ensure complete transparency in the disbursement of funds as well as relief goods, an independent Commission comprising of eminent people of impeccable integrity was being established in consultation with the leaders of major opposition parties in the country to oversee the relief efforts.
While underscoring the damage caused to the basic services and infrastructure in the affected areas, the Prime Minister stated that reconstruction phase is likely to take years but Pakistan needed help to immediately repair and reconstruct some of the important bridges on priority basis to gain access to certain areas which have been cut off from the rest of the country and where the stranded population needed immediate relief. Noting that second and third waves of floods might turn out to be more dangerous for already affected areas, he appealed to the international community for provision of helicopters, boats and hovercrafts on urgent basis to help his government in the rescue operations and provision of supplies to the affected population in the coming weeks.
The UN Secretary General stated that he considered it his duty to visit Pakistan to observe the situation by himself and to express strong solidarity and sympathies with the flood affected people. He assured the Prime Minister that UN would undertake every measure possible to expedite the relief assistance and accelerate the pace for its delivery to the affected people.
He noted that UN so far had already committed $ 27 million out of its Central Emergency Response Fund and had launched an appeal for Pakistan’s flood affectees on August 11 for US $ 459 million.
Mr Ban Ki-Moon said that a review of this appeal and response to it would be made within a month after the assessment of Pakistan’s requirements to cope with this situation. The UN Secretary General stated that after visiting the flood affected areas of Pakistan today, he would submit a report to the UN General Assembly on August 19 and would try to mobilize international community through a special plenary session for Pakistan flood affectees, FoDP meeting in Brussels in October and in the forthcoming annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Washington DC.
He stated that areas of concern of the government of Pakistan for providing immediate relief are exactly the same as of UN and the UN is already focusing its relief efforts in those areas. He also assured the Prime Minister that all the efforts undertaken by the UN and its related agencies for the flood victims in Pakistan will be in coordination and under the leadership of government of Pakistan.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, Secretaries Foreign Affairs, Defence, Chairman NDMA, Mr Abdullah Hussain Haroon Pakistan Permanent Representative to UN and senior officers were also present in the meeting.