Pak yet to choose modalities of India`s flood aid

The Indian govt has not yet been formally asked to start supplying the aid.

Updated: Aug 26, 2010, 14:01 PM IST

Islamabad: The Pakistan government is yet to decide on modalities for India`s offer to provide USD five million to help victims of the country`s worst floods though Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had last week announced the acceptance of the aid.

The Indian government has not yet been formally asked to start supplying the aid and the Foreign Office spokesman said the matter is still being discussed.

"We are working on it and the decision will soon be made public," spokesman Abdul Basit said. Basit indicated that modalities for accepting the aid from India will be finalised after international bodies completed a damage and needs assessment.

"We will come to that point after ascertaining what is needed and what the Indians can provide," he told the Dawn newspaper.

Foreign Minister Qureshi had on August 20 announced the acceptance of the Indian aid during a visit to the US to drum up funds for the 20 million people affected by the floods.

Observers had said the move could help improve the frosty relations between India and Pakistan and bridge the trust deficit between the two countries.

Reports had even suggested that Pakistan had accepted the aid due to pressure from the US but Qureshi and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani defended the government`s decision, saying the matter should not be politicised.

Some media reports have suggested that Pakistan may accept the Indian aid only if it is routed through the United Nations though there was no official word on this issue.

During a phone conversation with Gilani on August 19, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had reiterated an earlier offer to provide USD five million and said India was willing to do more to help Pakistan.

Gilani later sent five boxes of mangoes to Singh as a gesture of gratitude. India has also offered to mobilise support from other South Asian countries to help Pakistan.

An official of the Indian High Commission said preparations had been made to provide goods for flood-affected people on the basis of requirements posted on the website of Pakistan`s National Disaster Management Authority.

It is yet to be decided if the goods will be flown into Pakistan or can be transported by land, the official said.

The goods will be delivered to the Pakistan government directly and not to any other agency.

India and Israel are the only two countries whose nationals are not being granted special three-month visas to join relief operations in Pakistan.

The Interior Ministry has instructed Pakistani missions to provide the special visas to aid workers. It has also instructed authorities to issue visas on arrival to workers of well-known aid agencies and foreign institutions.