ISLAMABAD: Pakistan would accept $5 million aid offered by India for flood victims only through the United Nations, officials said on Saturday.
The development came a day after Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi announced in New York that Pakistan had accepted the Indian aid.
However, officials in the Foreign Office revealed that the final decision was yet to be taken. “We have seen the foreign minister’s statement but there is no formal decision yet,” a foreign ministry official told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity. The official said Pakistan was unlikely to accept the Indian aid directly due to strained relations between the neighbours.
Last month, foreign ministers from the two countries met in Islamabad but failed to agree on a roadmap to resume the peace process suspended by New Delhi following the Mumbai attacks of November 2008.
“We have told the Indians that Pakistan has no problem in accepting the aid but it should come through the United Nations,” the official added.
Pakistan has been under pressure from the US to accept the Indian aid, a gesture that can help two rivals overcome differences. Pakistan had accepted Indian aid directly after the 2005 earthquake that had killed over 80,000 people.
However, Pak-India relations at that time were improving as they had launched, what they called, “irreversible” composite dialogue process in early 2004.
It has been learnt that the government has also sought Pakistan Army’s input on whether or not to accept the Indian offer. Military spokesperson Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told The Express Tribune that it was up to the government to accept or reject the Indian aid.
But officials disclosed that the military establishment was of the opinion that Indian financial assistance should come through the United Nations.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2010.