Gilani defends Zardari`s UK visit despite floods at home
Last Updated: Thursday, August 05, 2010, 20:47
  
Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today defended President Asif Ali Zardari's decision to go ahead with a visit to Britain despite the onset of Pakistan's worst floods in decades, saying he was present in the country to oversee relief operations.

"Since the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers, who are chief executives of the country and the provinces in a parliamentary democracy, are in the country, there should be no concern on the visit of the President," Gilani told reporters on the sidelines of an official function.

"If the Prime Minister or any of the Chief Ministers would have been outside the country in this situation, then it would have been a matter of concern," he said.

Gilani was responding to a question about opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif's criticism of Zardari's visit to Britain against the backdrop of British Prime Minister David Cameron's remarks about Pakistan promoting the export of terror as well as the worst floods to hit the country in 80 years.

The premier said he appreciated Sharif's struggle and efforts for restoration of democracy and a recent landmark constitutional amendment but added that there was no reason for concern over Zardari's visit.

He remarked that even if Zardari had not gone abroad, his detractors would have "created other issues." Gilani said his government is currently fighting on three fronts ? targeted killings in Karachi, terrorism and floods, and first priority is being given to rescue and relief efforts in flood-hit areas.

"Around 250,000 to 300,000 food packets have already been provided to the flood-affected people in various parts of country, and the government is striving to ensure the supply of food items, tents, medicines and relief goods," he said.

The government will announce compensation for the relatives of those who lost their lives in the devastating floods after an assessment of losses is made by international institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, he said.

Besides talking to Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN, Abdullah Haroon, and Pakistan's Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani about the flood situation, he had directed the Foreign Minister and the Minister of State for Economic Affairs to brief Islamabad-based diplomats about the devastation caused by torrential rains and flash floods.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, August 05, 2010, 20:47


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