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