UNITED NATIONS: Amid global concerns that terrorists may take advantage of the devastating floods in Pakistan, its Foreign Minister, Mr Shah Mahmood Qureshi has assured the international community that Islamabad will not allow this to happen.
“We are not going to allow them to take advantage or exploit this natural disaster,” Mr Qureshi, who was here for a special meeting on the flood situation in Pakistan, said underlining the need for immediate “international assistance”.
“The gains we have made against the terrorists are substantial, yet we remain exposed. If we fail it would undermine the hard won gains made by the government in our difficult and painful war against terrorism…We cannot allow this catastrophe to become an opportunity for the terrorists,” he said speaking at the UN General Assembly.
His comments assume significance in the wake of the international community expressing concern that funds meant for the victims could be diverted to extremist groups.
Mr John Kerry, the chairperson of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee who visited flood-hit regions yesterday, warned that terrorists may take advantage of the worst floods in Pakistan in 80 years to increase their weight.
Groups like the Falah-e-Insaniyat, a front for the Jamaat-ud-Dawah that has been blamed by India for having links to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, have set up relief camps in flood-affected areas in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The US yesterday announced an additional USD 60 million to Pakistan, bringing their total contribution to the flood relief efforts to more than USD 150 billion.
“We will be with you as rivers rise and fall, we will be with you as you replant your fields and repair your roads,” the US Secretary of State, Ms Hillary Clinton said, addressing the meeting at the General Assembly after Mr Qureshi.
The UN chief, Mr Ban Ki-moon called on member states to step up response to provide aid for more than six million people who need urgent assistance, which include 3.5 million children.
Mr Ban noted that nations should not fall prey to what has been described in the media as “donor fatigue” in providing money to Pakistan. The total number of people impacted by the flood is approximately 20 million. “That is more than the entire population hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Kashmir earthquake, Cyclone Nargis and the earthquake in Haiti, combined,” the UN chief said.
The latest figures indicate that the UN has now received contributions worth USD 252 million, or 55 per cent of its initial appeal of USD 460 million for the first three months.
UN member states also unanimously passed a General Assembly resolution to provide emergency relief to Pakistan.