Home Latest News Complete Rehabilitation from Floods May Take Years: Army chief

Complete Rehabilitation from Floods May Take Years: Army chief

P.M. Sharif announces aid for flood-hit people while urging philanthropists to donate generously

by Staff Report

Army chief Gen. Bajwa visits flood-hit victims in Sindh. Photo courtesy ISPR

Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa visited flood relief camps in Sindh’s Jilani, Khairpur and Kambar Shahdad Kot villages on Sunday, according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), and reviewed relief activities, stressing it was now time to commence rehabilitation work.

The military’s media wing said flood victims at Khairpur and Kambar Shahdad Kot had thanked the Army chief for visiting them and offering support, adding he had also meet troops deployed for rescue efforts and appreciated their efforts to provide comfort to the affected populations.

“Helping the people of Pakistan in need is a noble cause and we must take pride to serve them to best of our abilities,” he was quoted as saying.

In a speech released by the ISPR, the Army chief went on to warn that while rescue operations in flood-affected areas were nearing completion, the real work of rehabilitation process must now begin and it could take years to complete. “Yesterday I was in Balochistan’s area of Uthal and Bela and today I am here in Khaipur, Sindh, and the devastations here are massive,” he said, adding the federal and provincial governments, as well as the Pakistan Army, Navy, Air Force, and various welfare organizations were working non-stop to aid victims.

“However, the magnitude of these floods is massive and reconstruction and rehabilitation would take time,” he stressed, appealing to rich people to step forward and contribute for the welfare of flood-hit population. “Come forward and help us in whatever manner you can—financially or through the material—so that we can rehabilitate those affected,” he said, adding he was sure the country’s expatriate community would not let down their Pakistani brothers in this time of need.

P.M.’s visit

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, meanwhile, visited the flood-hit areas of Nasirabad, meeting flood-hit people and assuring them of government’s support to overcome the prevailing crisis. Announcing a grant of Rs. 10 billion for Balochistan, he said he had never witnessed destruction on this scale before. “The devastation caused by floods and persistent rains is horrifying,” he lamented, stressing that this calamity could not be overcome through sloganeering, statements and trading blame. Earlier, the premier had announced Rs. 15 billion for Sindh.

Underlining the need for hard work to overcome the current devastation, he regretted that “false statements” by certain political figures were still trying to mislead the nation. Similar to the Army chief, he called upon philanthropists to support the flood-affected people with generous donations.

“In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, downpours have led to swollen rivers and water channels in Swat and Kalam, sweeping away hotels and homes within the blink of an eye,” he said, regretting hundreds of people had lost their lives and thousands of crops had been damaged.

The prime minister said the government would provide Rs. 25,000 to each flood-affected family, adding Rs. 38 billion had been allocated for this through the NDMA and Benazir Income Support Program.

Sharif said he had directed the federal energy minister to expedite the restoration of power supply in the affected areas, adding he would preside over a meeting in Islamabad to review the situation and take further decisions.

More calls for aid

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in a video statement, called for national unity to overcome the current calamity, as he urged all political parties to postpone their bickering and focus all efforts on ensuring relief and rehabilitation of the millions impacted by the floods.

Noting the devastation had been caused by a natural phenomenon, the PMLN leader said it was nonetheless a chance to rethink national policies and question if “our actions and mistakes” had also been responsible for the nation’s sufferings. “We cannot rule out these things,” he said, as he also urged on all Pakistanis to extend their help for people in need of rehabilitation.

Separately, President Arif Alvi echoed calls for international assistance and relief to support the flood-affected people. Former prime minister Imran Khan has already announced he would host a fundraising telethon tonight (Monday) to invite Pakistanis to donate for flood relief operations.

In a press conference, Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman warned the number of people affected by floods had risen to 33 million—or 1 in 7 Pakistanis—adding large parts of the country had been inundated because relentless rains had struck the country’s south, while the north had been flooded by excess flows in the Indus River.

She said the Economic Affairs Division and other ministries were working with 35 multilateral and bilateral donors to assess needs and bridge gaps in relief efforts. “The Benazir Income Support Program has started rolling out Rs. 25,000 [for each affected family],” she said, adding the government was also providing Rs. 1 million compensation to the next of kin who had died and Rs. 250,000 to all injured. The government, she said, would also provide Rs. 500,000 for fully destroyed houses and Rs. 250,000 for partially destroyed houses.

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