Pak minister promises flood-money will be "well spent"

Foreign minister says Pak would also use its own resources to meet crisis.

New York: Pakistan`s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has assured donor nations that the money sent for its flood victims will not be wasted, saying the aid would be "well spent" in a "transparent manner".

"I want to assure the international community that every dollar being contributed will be well spent in a transparent manner and we have today in place an oversight mechanism, which is comprising of people with a lot of eminence and integrity," Qureshi said.

The country would also use its own resources to meet the crisis as it did not expect the "world to foot the entire bill", he said.

"We the people of Pakistan intend to mobilise our national resources to overcome this challenge," he added. "We cannot expect the world to foot the entire bill... We don`t expect that."

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 also stressed that concerns about an existing "trust deficit" should not be overblown. "Let`s not exaggerate the trust deficit.. We owe it to every contributor national and international to make sure that the money that is being given to us is being utilised efficiently."

He was speaking yesterday following a high-level ministerial meeting on Pakistan floods held at the UN on the sidelines of the opening week of the General Assembly.

The `Friends of Pakistan` had called for the meeting, which was attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on the flood situation. Qureshi also met Hillary for a short bilateral session.

During the meeting, several countries pledged additional money including the UK, which has decided to give Pakistan an additional USD 110 million to provide flood-relief for an estimated 21 million flood-affected people. London has previously given Islamabad USD 100 million and USD 80 million in private donations.

The overall figure of the pledges was not immediately available.

Last week, India handed over USD 20 million to the United Nations for flood-relief efforts in Pakistan. On Friday, the UN launched the largest ever natural disaster appeal of over USD 2 billion to boost the aid efforts in Pakistan, which has lost large sweeps of infrastructure and agriculture.

The new amount includes the initial August appeal of USD 459 million, which is now 80 percent funded, but leaves a shortfall of about USD 1.6 billion.

The majority of those affected by the floods are farmers, many of whom have lost their crops and will not able to plant their fields by November, and are likely to be dependent on aid until 2012, according to the UN.

Lack of soap and water is leading to the rise of skin diseases and millions of people remain vulnerable to cholera and diarrhoea. Out of the 21 million flood-affected people, 12 million are in desperate condition with no access to clean drinking water or health facilities, the world body had said.

PTI

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