Interior secretary on flood relief notice

LHC issued notice to the interior secretary in a petition seeking early constitution of a ‘credible’ commission.


Express August 20, 2010

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice on Thursday issued notice to the interior secretary in a petition seeking early constitution of a ‘credible’ commission for rehabilitation of the flood effected.

Deputy Attorney General M Ashraf Khan, present in the court on a petition in this regard by Muhammad Ashraf Gondal, was directed to obtain a report and para-wise comments from the secretary by August 26. The petitioner had named the interior secretary, the Punjab chief secretary, the Punjab home secretary, and the National Disaster Management Authority chairman as respondents.

The petitioner submitted that following heavy rains a large area of the country had been devastated by calamitous floods. He said millions of people had been rendered homeless. He said that those affected were in urgent need of assistance from the government for their rehabilitation but, except the Pakistan Army and some voluntary workers nobody had hastened to their help.

He mentioned that during United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s visit to the country, Elizabeth Yakir, one of his entourage, had remarked that: “A big difficulty in the way of agencies for getting funds is bad repute of Pakistan”.

The petitioner said the Pakistan Muslim League leader Nawaz Sharif had approached the prime minister and proposed that a credible flood relief commission consisting of eminent persons of known integrity be constituted to oversee the relief and rehabilitation efforts. He said the prime minister had agreed to form such a commission but no action had followed. Meanwhile, he said, millions of people continued to suffer from malnutrition and were vulnerable to water borne diseases. The petitioner said the constitution required the government to ensure provision of basic necessities like foods, clothing, housing, education and medicine to citizens irrespective of their sex, caste, creed or race. He alleged that the respondents were ignoring their constitutional responsibility.

He said the failure of the National Disaster Management Authority to assure the donors about the way the funds made available for the rehabilitation of the 2005 earthquake victims were utilised had made international donors reluctant to donate this time.

Given the situation, he argued, it was necessary that the respondents move quickly to notify a ‘credible’ flood relief commission. He prayed that the court summon the respondents and direct them to constitute a credible, independent, flood relief commission forthwith.

He also prayed for a direction to the commission to publish a detailed report on utilisation of the funds put at its disposal.

He also called for a similar report on rehabilitation of the 2005 earthquake victims.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2010.

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