Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited Badin, one of the worst affected areas in the wake of fresh floods, on Saturday with 36 truck-loads of food rations and relief goods.
“I have been sent here on [PML-N chief] Nawaz Sharif’s orders. We understand what the people of Badin are going through right now as we faced a similar situation in Punjab last year,” he said. “I have visited each and every village in Punjab and know what people require the most in their time of need.”
The chief minister added that he would send more relief goods to Badin and other rain-affected districts of Sindh. “I come here with a caravan of peace,” he said and added: “Let us pray that the bloodshed in Karachi comes to an end,” he said.
Sharif arrived in the district as a guest of former provincial minister Ismail Rahu. However, PPP MNA and National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza and her husband Zulfiqar Mirza, both who hail from Badin, were not present to receive him. No official from the Sindh government has so far responded to the Punjab chief minister’s visit.
Mirza in Badin
Dr Fehmida Mirza underlined the need for coordinated efforts by the district government, philanthropists and general public for providing relief to the flood affected people of Badin.
A statement issued by the National Assembly stated that the speaker had also asked Pakistan Air Force to provide support to air lift the stranded people and distribute relief goods in inaccessible areas.
While talking to the flood victims, Mirza said that the government was taking appropriate steps to provide them with shelter, clothes, and medicines and assured them of early rehabilitation after the water recedes.
Later in the day, the speaker chaired a meeting at the Darbar Hall, Badin in connection with relief operations, where she directed proper healthcare services and supply of quality medicine to the flood victims.
‘No international aid needed’
Meanwhile, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Zafar Qadir said on Saturday that they would not seek any international assistance for floods in Sindh. The NDMA was efficiently managing the relief work and were facing no difficulties so far, he added.
Qadir, who visited the affected areas to take stock of the situation, said that the NDMA’s teams were actively engaged in flood relief and rescue operations. He said that if international non-governmental bodies’ want to visit flood affected areas, they would have to get approval from the NDMA. “We want to keep a complete check on international NGOs before clearing them for any relief work,” said the chairman.
Additional reporting by Qamar Zaman in Islamabad
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2011.