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Not one bridge left standing in flood-hit Swat valley: Qureshi

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 18:13

New York: The catastrophic floods in
Pakistan, which displaced 20 million people, have destroyed
all bridges in the picturesque Swat valley, once a hotbed of
Taliban militants.

"Much of our crops have been destroyed. The
infrastructure has been ravaged in all of our provinces. In
the scenic Swat valley, there is not one bridge left
standing," Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi
told the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based
think-tank, yesterday.
Swat, known as the `Switzerland of Pakistan`, is a valley
and administrative district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of
Pakistan. In December 2008, most of the area was captured by
the Taliban and was considered dangerous for tourism.

Pakistan, under the US pressure, in late May 2009 began a
military offensive to regain control of the region. Swat is
now reportedly cleared of Taliban.

Qureshi said the scale of the flood tragedy was immense.
He noted that the UN Secretary General has described the
destruction as greater than Tsunami, the 2005 earthquake and
the recent earthquake in Haiti put together.

"Through the length and breadth of Pakistan, across the
course of the Indus River, the deluge has uprooted 20 million
people," he said, adding that the floods have washed away
livestock, crops and livelihoods, inundated town after town,
acre upon acre of fertile farmland.
During his address, Qureshi also acknowledged that
Pakistan is conscious of the need to ensure complete
transparency and accountability in aid disbursal.

"We are working through the UN System; and in close
collaboration with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank
to prepare a credible Damage Needs Assessment," he said,
addressing concerns in the West that aid given to combat
floods in Pakistan could be misused.

The reluctance of the global community to respond to the
UN`s initial appeal of USD 459 million has been attributed
to concerns that the foreign governments have about corruption
that may lead to misuse of the aid in Pakistan.

Qureshi said that Pakistan government has put in place
an Oversight Mechanism that will address donor requirements
and ensure transparent and effective utilisation of
international assistance.


First Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 18:13

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