Rain havoc in Sindh is wakeup call: President

Karachi: President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the havoc caused by floods during the last two years were a wakeup call to everyone to search for permanent solutions to natural disasters rooted in climate change. He also called upon the national and international experts and the UN agencies to devise doable and practicable plans for countering the vagaries of climate change.

The President was addressing representatives of various UN agencies engaged in relief and rehabilitation work in Sindh, in Bilawal House Karachi Friday.

Spokesman to President Farhatullah Babar said that the representatives of UN agencies and donors that attended the meeting included UNICEF, WHO, FAO, UNHCR, USAID, WFP and UN Habitat among others. Speaker National Assembly Dr. Fehmida Mirza, provincial ministers, Secretary General Salman Farooqui and senior federal and provincial government officials also attended the meeting.

The President said that food, shelter, water and sanitation, health and logistics were critical clusters and called upon the relevant UN agencies and donors to coordinate with Disaster Management Authority and relevant government departments for carrying out humanitarian assistance.

He said that all relevant state institutions including the army and navy had been geared to play their role in the relief work. The Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) and the Baitul Mal had also been mobilized to provide assistance and relief in cash and in kind.

The NADRA had started distribution of special ‘Pakistan Cards’ among the victims to ensure transparent distribution of relief goods among the needy. Over five thousand ‘Pakistan Cards’ had already been issued in Badin in first two days and the process was further being stepped up, he said.

The President thanked the UN Secretary General for launching an urgent international appeal for humanitarian assistance despite the donor’s fatigue due to so many hotspots in the world requiring urgent attention and assistance.

The President said that Badin and Thatta were needed to be given special attention in view of a huge body of stagnant water accumulated in Badin that had jeopardized life, livestock and agriculture on a massive scale.

The President said that he had also called upon experts to study the prospects of diverting the flood waters to natural storage reservoirs for use in the future.

He said that during the past few years the people of Pakistan had endured unspeakable hardships caused by huge calamities like earthquake, floods, rains and internal dislocation of millions of people (IDPs) besides the crippling blows of militancy and extremism.

“Pakistanis are a courageous and resilient people and have withstood all tribulations with hope and determination”, the President said and added that he was confident that they will overcome the present ordeal as well.

President Zardari thanked the representatives of UN agencies and donors for their support and said the government will extend all help in their task to provide relief and rehabilitation to the flood victims.

Farhatullah Babar said that the President then met heads of leading banks of the country to discuss the role banks could play in mitigating the sufferings of the people.

The meeting was attended by the head and representatives of State Bank of Pakistan, National Bank of Pakistan , MCB, Zari Tariqiati Bank, HBL, ABL, UBL, Meezan Bank, Askari Bank, Soneri Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Bank Al-Habib and NIB bank among others.

Farhatullah Babar quoted the President as saying “over ninety percent of land in Sindh is owned by small farmers and the banks need to devise plans to provide financial relief to them”.

The President asked the State Bank of Pakistan to work with the commercial banks for urgently devising an appropriate plan to assist the farmers who had “lost not only their standing crops but their capacity to grow in the future”.

The meeting with the bankers was followed by a similar meeting with the businessmen, traders and representatives of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Addressing the meeting the President asked the businessmen and pharmaceutical companies to sit together and prepare a plan for combating the issue of spurious drugs and pesticides which had been raised by people in some flood affected areas.

He said that this issue could not be handled by the bureaucracy alone and it needed the support of business community “who knew both the holes and how to plug them”.

Governor Sindh Dr. Ishratul Ibad Khan also present in the meeting that was attended among others by the heads and representatives of FPCCI, KCCI, Pakistan Business Council, Overseas Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Karachi Stock Exchange and a large number of prominent businessmen.

The businessmen assured the President of the all out support of the business community in reaching out to the flood victims and help rehabilitate them with material and financial assistance.

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