Bilawal alleges barriers in flood relief inflow

PPP chairman defends Sindh’s strategy to cope with rehabilitation task


Hafeez Tunio October 07, 2022
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI:

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari defended on Thursday the government strategy to manage the recent unprecedented floods in Sindh but agreed that the provincial government could not reach out to “each and every” affected person.

Addressing a press conference at the Chief Minister House, Bilawal, also the foreign minister of the country, regretted that some politicians were hatching conspiracies and giving irresponsible statements to impede the flow of the international assistance for the affected people.

“One-third of the country has been inundated but some politicians, instead of coming over to help the affected people, were playing politics, demanding elections, and trying to subvert the government's efforts to rescue and rehabilitate the affected population,” he told reporters.

He appreciated the efforts of the Sindh government to deal with floods, stressing that the so-called nationalists were misguiding people. “We did not flood anyone or any area. It was the natural flow of water that inundated the areas in its natural path,” he added.

Bilawal said that the international community was ready to help but deplored that some politicians were hatching conspiracies and giving irresponsible statements to subvert the government’s relief efforts and trying to prevent aid from reaching the affected people.

Responding to a question, he agreed that the government had not reached to each and every affected person mainly because the “catastrophe is so huge”. However, he added that he thanked Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif who “has owned each and every person affected by floods”.

The foreign minister said that 33 million people or one in every seven people had been affected by unprecedented rains and floods, adding that the cumulative losses of properties and infrastructure had been estimated at $30 billion.

Updating on the flood situation, Bilawal said that 50% of the flooded area had been cleared but added that flow of floodwater from Balochistan still continued. He said that various towns and settlements in Sindh, Balochistan, Southern Punjab, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) were still under water.

“This was not a riverine flood. It was the result of a heavy downpour that displaced 33 million people – equivalent to the population of the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. “Our towns Khairput Nathan Shah and Kotdiji were giving a look of ocean.”

Now, the stagnant water had started receding, Bilawal said, water-borne diseases had broken out and despite an extensive damage to the health infrastructure, the Singh government provided medical treatment to more than 3.8 million people through special medical camps.

The PPP chairman vowed to help every flood victim across the country without any discrimination. “I am not thinking about who will vote for us or not. We have to help everyone and rehabilitate him,” he said. “We will not give up… we will pass through these testing times.”

When asked about the international aid, Bilawal said that the Sindh government was reaching out to the donor agencies and convincing them for a solid support. He added that more development work was still needed, but nobody could deny the services delivered the Sindh government.

Responding to another question about the allegation levelled by Pakistan Threek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, against the PPP leadership, Bilawal while citing a UK newspaper report, said that Imran stole “funds of his hospital, Imran himself is the biggest thief.”

Foreign relations

The minister said that Pakistan’s relations with all the countries, including the United States, had improved. “He [Imran Khan], during his tenure as prime minister, had damaged the relationship of Pakistan with various countries but we have engaged proactively with all the countries.

The countries which were even not ready to shake hands with us are now our friends. We have restored the cordial relationship with all the countries which were sabotaged by the PTI chairman during his tenure as prime minister,” he said.

Those present at the press conference, included Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, PPP Sindh President Nisar Khuhro, Information Minister Sharjeel Memon, Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro, Saeed Ghani, Murtaza Wahab, Rasool Bux Chandio and others.

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