Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has said that the government can go ahead with the Kalabagh Dam if there is political consensus on the issue.
“If there is consensus, then the government can go ahead with the construction of the dam as it could have averted the massive death and destruction caused by the recent floods,” said Gilani, responding to a question during his visit to Multan on Monday.
Gilani said that the Pakistani nation stands united and is capable of confronting any challenges that it might face. “Pakistan belongs to every Pakistani and they are the owners of its resources and assets. August 1947 is remembered for giving us a separate country and August 2010 should be remembered for showing us as a rising nation,” he said.
The prime minister said that the floods had spiralled out of the government’s control and appealed to the international community and donors to act immediately as thousands across Pakistan were still marooned. “The loss caused by the floods is irrecoverable and the country has been pushed back many years. The magnitude of this devastation is more than the nation’s resources,” he said, but assured that all resources will be utilised to rehabilitate those who had lost their homes and families in the disaster. “It is the people’s government and whatever we can do for them, we are. But, the losses are far too stupendous.”
Gilani said that it was difficult to estimate losses for the time being due to continuous rain. “The amount of water flow upstream is increasing and the second spell of monsoon rains has also begun. Thus, more and more water is pouring in and the number of affectees can end up in many, many millions. Once the flood subsides, we will ask the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to assess the losses and share it with the world,” he said.
He said that in his telephonic conversation with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he told her that the country had suffered tremendous losses and added that Japan and Nato had promised to enhance aid to Pakistan. “What we immediately need is food, water, medicines and camps for which federal government is doing everything possible. We have made arrangements for food and tents are being dispatched,” he said, adding that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is coordinating and distributing foreign aid equally among the affected areas.
Later, the prime minister visited the Circuit House in Multan where he dispelled the impression that there were differences between the center and Punjab regarding rehabilitation aid for flood survivors. “Punjab is demanding Rs10 billion, which is peanuts considering the enormity of the damage caused by the floods,” he said.
He reiterated that the federal government will cooperate with all provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan to implement a unanimous strategy to cope with the post-flood situation. “Punjab is my province and rehabilitation needs far more than just cooperation. But resources will be provided to all provinces according to their relief and rehabilitation needs,” he said.
He said that political parties had risen above their ideologies and petty differences to help those in need. “As the senior vice chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), I have asked party workers to help affected people in their respective areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2010.