New York: Pakistan has finally accepted India's offer of 5 million US dollars as aid for the devastating floods that have hit the country. And has thanked India. Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Friday sent five boxes of mangoes to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a gesture of gratitude.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is in New York to drum up funding from the international community, confirmed to NDTV's Sarah Jacob that the government of Pakistan had agreed to accept the Indian offer and appreciates the gesture.
The decision came after days of a diplomatic logjam. Yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had called up Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. He offered his condolences and reminded him of the Indian government's offer, saying India was ready to do more.
There was also a stern message from the US on Thursday. Asserting that there was no role for politics in disaster response, the Obama Administration said it expected Pakistan to accept the 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.
And within 24 hours of that, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said Pakistan had agreed to accept the Indian offer and that his government appreciated India's gesture.
Here's more on what Shah Mahmood Qureshi said:
NDTV: Here you have travelled all the way to the US to ask the international community to loosen its purse strings. India has offered aid but Pakistan has not accepted this offer as yet. Surely this is not the time for politics when people are dying.
Qureshi: No, we are playing no politics. To begin with let me acknowledge the fact that Minister for External Affairs Mr. Krishna called me in Islamabad and he expressed sympathy and he condoled with me on the loss of life and offered assistance to Pakistan. According to Pakistan's priorities, I want to take advantage of this connection to thank him and the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for this very positive gesture. It is highly appreciated in Pakistan and we have recognised it. PM Manmohan Singh called up Prime Minister Gilani and they have also exchanged views on the evolving flood situation in Pakistan. He reiterated the offer made by Foreign Minister Krishna and I can share with you that the government of Pakistan has agreed to accept the Indian offer.
NDTV: So you are confirming that Pakistan has agreed to accept the Indian offer?
NDTV: Another worry for the international community and India and US is that Islamic extremist groups might take advantage of this opportunity to win over hearts and minds. Is this a worry for your government too?
Qureshi: I think we saw today that the UN will not permit them to take advantage of the situation. I think the international community is now forthcoming and respondent and they are responding quickly and we will not allow them to exploit the situation.
NDTV: Lastly sir, Indo-Pak ties reached an all-time low after the Mumbai terror attacks. Is this acceptance of Indian aid and the offer from India a new chapter perhaps?
Qureshi: I think the ball was set rolling in Thimpu when the two prime ministers met and they agreed to resume the dialogue. And the meeting that we had in Islamabad was a step forward in that direction. I think this initiative of India is a very welcome initiative and I am looking forward to further engagements with my counterpart to improve the environment and build confidence and to bridge the trust deficit between the two countries.
Flood: Pak devastated but dogmatic?