Indo-Pak precedent of help during natural disasters: Qureshi

Pakistan`s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said that New Delhi and Islamabad had a past record of providing assistance to each other when faced with natural disasters.

New York: Following the acceptance of
India`s USD 5 million for flood relief efforts, Pakistan`s
foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said that New
Delhi and Islamabad had a past record of providing assistance
to each other when faced with natural disasters.

Qureshi visited New York, this week, to urge the
international community to give more aid and funds to the 20
million people hit by the worst floods the country has

"Well, we have been helping each other in the past.
India has helped Pakistan during the 2005 earthquake. We
responded to them when they had natural disasters," Qureshi
told PBS News Hour.

"So, there is a precedent, and we are neighbours.
So, this was a very welcome gesture on their part. And we in
Pakistan appreciate this gesture," he added.

Qureshi avoided the question on why it took so long to
accept the aid, but when asked whether there were political
sensitivities involved in accepting the aid he said, " No, as
I said, there are past precedents.

And, you know, they have helped us, and we have
helped them."

Speaking on Friday at the United Nations, India
expressed heartfelt sympathy towards the losses suffered by
its neighbor and pledged full support in helping with relief

"We are willing to do all that is in our power to
assist Pakistan in facing the consequences of floods," Hardeep
Singh Puri, India`s envoy to the UN, told the General Assembly
on the second day of an emergency session on Pakistan`s

Pakistan has been hit by unprecedented floods, which
have drowned one fifth of its land, killed around 2,000 people
and impacted an estimated 20 million people with around 6
million in need of emergency aid, which includes 3,5 million
children. The US had also urged to accept India`s offer for

"In terms of responding to a disaster, politics
should play no role. You have a country that`s willing to help
and...we expect that Pakistan will accept," P J Crowley, State
Department spokesperson, said earlier this week.

Crowley also rejected reports in the Pakistan media
that India and US were responsible for the floods.

"It was the United States and India that conspired to
have the monsoons come to Pakistan. I don`t find that

Meanwhile, the UN has launched a flash appeal for 460
million out of which USD 263 million has been received, which
is approximately 57 per cent.

Despite a slow start, the contributions picked up
after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the flooded areas,
last week, and said that it was the worst natural disaster he
had witnessed, while describing the conditions as "heart

The US has contributed the largest amount of aid with
USD 150 million out of which USD 92 million goes towards the
UN flash appeal.

Following the emergency relief response, Pakistan,
which has lost a high volume of infrastructure and
agriculture, is probably going to need aid worth billions of
dollar as it moves into the recovery and rehabilitation phase.

Puri underlined that New Delhi would help Islamabad as
it moved into these different phases of rebuilding.

"As in when Pakistan is able articulate its
requirements for medium to long-term recovery, we will, within
our abilities and in accordance with the needs of Pakistan, be
privileged to of assistance," Puri said.

The Indian ambassador also noted that in addition to
the USD 5 million, New Delhi had also offered relief supplies.

"Given our geographical proximity, provision of
relief supplies from India would save precious time and
provide much need relief to the flood victims at the
earliest," Puri said.

"It is our expectation that relief supplies would
start moving soon. Our prime minister has also said that the
Government of India is ready to do more to assist in the
relief effort," he continued.

"He (PM) has also underscored that all of South Asia
to rise to the occasion and extend every possible help to the
people of Pakistan affected by the tragedy."

Singh also highlighted that Indians could sympathise
with Pakistanis because they shared the same topography, which
was prone to natural disasters.

"We share the pain and agony and fully understand the
trauma and suffering that our Pakistani brethren are living
through," he said.


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