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

Accept Indian aid, no role for politics in disaster: US to Pak
Washington:  Asserting that there is no role for politics in disaster response, the Obama Administration has said it expects Pakistan to accept the USD 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 USD 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's Foreign Minister has arrived in New York to attend the special meeting of UN 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 USD 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. 
Story First Published: August 19, 2010 08:43 IST

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