Pak dismisses concerns on flood aid diverted to jihadi groups

Pakistan on Thursday dismissed world community`s concerns about aid for flood victims being diverted to extremist groups, saying the government appreciated the work being done for survivors by all NGOs.

Updated: Aug 19, 2010, 20:59 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday dismissed world
community`s concerns about aid for flood victims being
diverted to extremist groups, saying the government
appreciated the work being done for survivors by all NGOs,
including those related to religious groups.

The UN has said Pakistan`s "image deficit" has been
affecting efforts to mobilise aid for the 20 million people
affected by the worst floods in the country`s history.
Several banned groups like the Lashker-e-Taiba and
Jaish-e-Mohammed have filled gaps in the government`s
lacklustre relief operations by despatching hundreds of
volunteers to flood-hit areas.

Asked about relief efforts being conducted by NGOs
with links to jehadi groups during the weekly news briefing,
Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said: "As far as we are
concerned, NGOs are working in the field and they are
providing useful assistance (and) complementing the
government`s efforts and that is appreciated."

He said it was "very easy to term any particular NGO
as a jehadi organisation" and added that he did not know how
an NGO could be defined as a jehadi organisation.

"I think NGOs related to political parties (and)
religious-political parties, they are all doing a commendable
job in complementing the government`s efforts and we should
appreciate (them) rather than attaching nomenclatures which
are not in sync with the ground reality," Basit said.
Groups like the Falah-e-Insaniyat, a front for the
Jamaat-ud-Dawah that has been blamed by India for having links
to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, have set up relief camps in
flood-affected areas in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Witnesses have said they had seen the JuD flag flying
at some of these camps.

The Falah-e-Insaniyat has also set up camps in cities
like Islamabad and Lahore to gather funds for the flood
victims.

The international community has expressed concern that
funds meant for the victims could be diverted to extremist
groups.

However, Basit dismissed the world community`s
concerns about "trust deficit" and fears that funds would go
to extremist groups.

"I do not think that is really a concern because at
the end of the day, it is the government of Pakistan which has
the space, the mandate and the responsibility to provide
assistance and relief to the affected people," he said.
"I do not see any trust deficit as far as the
international response is concerned," he added.

Basit acknowledged that the world community`s initial
response to the floods was slow but said this could not be
attributed to any particular aspect or factor.

"The situation is now gaining momentum and we are now
getting the international community behind us in this very
difficult time for us," he said.

PTI