Panel to oversee flood aid spending

Published: August 15, 2010
Gilani, Nawaz agree to set up body to supervise rehabilitation efforts . PHOTO :  PPI

Gilani, Nawaz agree to set up body to supervise rehabilitation efforts . PHOTO : PPI

ISLAMABAD: As the worst floods in history continue to haunt lives and properties for the third week running, Pakistan’s top political leadership has announced the constitution of a national commission of “highly respectable and credible countrymen” to ensure transparency in spending aid money for relief activities.

The decision was agreed upon during a meeting between Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif here on Saturday.

Both leaders told the media at a joint news conference that the commission is being set up to ensure the money people of Pakistan and foreign governments contribute for the rehabilitation of flood victims is spent transparently.

The agreement — intended as an assurance to both the national and international donors — comes amid reports the  world community is ‘reluctant’ to contribute to the government, because of Pakistan’s allegedly ‘tainted’ past of spending foreign aid for disaster-stricken people.

Also, local donors are shying away from the official agencies and instead opting to  channel their funds through charities associated with religious groups such as Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).

Gilani said that the still-to-be-formed body would not only supervise the rehabilitation efforts by the government but also help raise funds.

According to media reports, there haven’t been any significant deposits in funds that Gilani and other government functionaries such National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza had established for flood victims in a show of ‘mistrust’ between the people and the political leadership.

Gilani said that former Supreme Court judges Rana Bhagwandas, Fakhruddin G Ibrahim and Nasir Aslam Zahid were being considered for the National Relief Commission’s top post.

Top urologist and humanitarian worker Dr Adeeb Rizvi, prominent lawyer Ali Ahmed Kurd, Justice (retired) Taqi Usmani, Justice (retired) Shafi-ur-Rehman, ex-bureaucrat and ambassador Rustam Shah Mohmand and Pakhtun nationalist leader Mahmood Khan Achakzai are likely to be named commission members.

The two leaders expressed the resolve to work together for the rehabilitation of the flood-stricken people.

Gilani said he also telephoned Asfandyar Wali, the chief of Awami National Party (ANP) and would continue to contact other leaders to gain their support for a national cause.

Of late, there has been a lot of criticism in the news media, with television anchors blaming “laxity on the part of politicians” to reach hundreds of thousands of survivors.

The country’s military, on the other hand, has been at the forefront of relief efforts in what observers see as a cautious and calculated attempt to revive its image.

“The calamity demands that all political parties rise above their differences and jointly cope with the disaster,” Gilani said.

He said the government has decided to set up a body to transparently collect and disburse funds amongst the provinces judiciously as per the damage assessment.

Nawaz Sharif said he had witnessed the “unprecedented devastation” caused by the floods. There was a need to unite the nation without indulging in any point-scoring, he added.

Sharif announced that he and Gilani would tour the entire country to raise funds locally without inviting assistance from abroad. “We will not beg the world to help us. If any country wishes to extend help, it may do so, but we have the ability to handle the calamity on our own.”

Prime Minister Gilani said the federal and the provincial governments would have to drastically cut down their expenditures to raise funds.

Regarding operation of foreign agencies and military personnel in the affected areas, Gilani said these were working with the permission of the government in specific areas.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • mussarat ahmedzeb swat
    Aug 15, 2010 - 8:23AM

    show us the contribution the leaders have donated from there own coffers.Recommend

  • muhammed ashraf gandhi
    Aug 15, 2010 - 9:52AM

    an exercize in vain the trust deficit would contonue toignore any effort by the govt. and socalled opposition. both will make money out of iyRecommend

  • cmsarwar
    Aug 16, 2010 - 12:10AM

    Pakistan’s top political leadership has come up with an impracticable solution to the current crisis of floods and how to collect and manage aid.It is a fancy idea but how will it work? The national commission composed of highly respectable and credible countrymen is,to begin with,an official and formal confession tnat we are indeed very corrupt and unreliable.(The only silver lining is that both the government and the main opposition are now ready to confess.)Further,it is a devious attempt to shift responsibility,both by the government and the opposition,to a third entity which will be difficult to constitute and impossible to become effectively functional due to a number of cogent reasons.Mainly,what are the details of infrastructure we propose to provide to the Commission in order to execute the gigantic task it will be executing? By implication we have conceded that the available government machinery is incompetent and corrupt.The immediate gain of this commission to our top political leadership will be that it will lessen their sense of guilt and the quantum of personal responsibility.Please notice that the brilliant suggestion has come from Nawaz Sharif who has a track record of a very smart businessman rather than an upright and intelligent leader.The Prime Minister ,in his usual uniter’s role,felt relieved to go along with the noble idea because he is generally averse to confronting complexities of his office.
    The ravages of floods,and the resultant misery,is unique.The nation is faced with the basic issue of survival.I am not sure how our leaders are going to face this challenge.But I would like to make a humble suggestion on the analogy of what is happening in America,a nation not enjoying the blessings of an Islamic republic,a nation of infidels as we love to believe.A good number of billionaires in America have signed a pledge that they will give away 50% of their total wealth to a fund being created for projects aimed at tackling the problems of poverty,disease,environment,education etc,etc.To make a noble start Nawaz Sharif can announce that he will nominate a highly respectable and credible countryman to run only four,not all,of his industrial units for a period of 2 years and manage all the income entirely,to be spent on the rehablitation of flood-ravaged people.Our good President can designate 25% of his total holdings,spread all over the globe,to be sold and spent on the suffering fellow citizens,to be followed by other known and unknown billionaires of this blighted country.It is time our leaders stop these wasteful visits to flooded areas and publicising pictures of distributing food packets to the misery-stricken populace.Can this practice be a good substitute for a functional,well-structured disaster management infrastructure which does not require crazy running around by Shahbaz Sharif,so warmly eulogized by our media?What we need right now is integrity,sacrifice and commitment,not these hypocritical pranks.Recommend

  • shazia ahmad
    Aug 16, 2010 - 2:54AM

    could you bring unity in politics for the country.Recommend

  • Fayyaz Muhammad Mian
    Aug 21, 2010 - 12:13PM

    Mr Prime Minister, you seem slow to react to a calamity of intense nature. You are still considering names of incorruptible people to surveil the foreign and locally genarated aid. You also seem to accommodate people from all provinces and other walks of life due to some political or social pressure. But your reluctance suggests that there is a dearth of people who would meet the defined criteria. I have a suggestion to forward: monitor all the selected people of the ‘national commission for rehabilitation’s personnel as well as official accounts in order to make the disbursement transparent. Otherwise, no body is going to trust you and your commission. We should also bear in mind that no body is innocent, incorruptible. Pick people like Imran Khan who is known for his impeccable reputation. The government should also try to extort loans written off during your regime and spend them on the rehabilitation. We have seen that billionnaire like Nawaz Sharif has contributed PKR ten millions only to philanthrophize the affectees. No big deal. Ask all MPA’s and MNA’s to open their wallets as well for ‘a day’s salary’ does n’t suffice for the emoluments they get during their tenure.Recommend

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