PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has demanded that the federal government immediately pay up Rs100,000 each to flood victims, and warned that an attempt by the centre to bypass provinces by directly handing out assistance to survivors could have serious consequences. “The world will give aid to only that government which it believes will use the funds in a transparent way. When corruption scandals are pending in courts, no one will come forward to hand you assistance,” he told a press conference after chairing a high-level meeting at the Chief Minister’s secretariat.
He said the government’s insensitivity towards flood victims has come to the fore during the relief effort.
Nawaz expressed dissatisfaction over the handling of relief work by the centre and said provinces should not be ignored in the distribution of aid. The sidelining of the provinces, he said, has widened the trust deficit between the Punjab and the federal governments.
He said a judicial commission should probe allegations of dyke breaches during the flood because the people responsible for such acts deserve no leniency.
He said the Punjab government has decided to give Rs20,000 to the flood victims as immediate financial assistance. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, meanwhile, has written a letter to the prime minister demanding the immediate convening of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to discuss apportioning of foreign aid among provinces.
He said he had not seen in his life such devastation as wrought by the current floods. The challenge is to first provide relief to survivors, relocate them to safe destinations and then rehabilitate them.
Nawaz said that, soon after the disaster struck, he held a meeting with the prime minister, but it was a pity that he did not agree to the suggestion of creating a national flood commission.
A collective effort, claimed Nawaz, would have given a positive message across the world and billions of rupees could have been generated. But Gilani, according to Nawaz, shot down the idea saying that the provinces were not ready to mount such endeavours.
He said joblessness, terrorism, subversion of the Constitution, attack on the judiciary, sacking of judges and the issue of missing persons were all “gifts” given by martial laws. “Does Altaf Hussain want all this to come back to haunt us?” he asked.
In the first place, martial law will not be imposed. If perchance it came, the MQM ministers who are part of the current civilian setup will also be the part of the martial law cabinet, Nawaz Sharif said.
He said if they wanted to invite martial law, they should have parted ways with the government first.
The PML-N chief said damage assessment should be done in a transparent manner so that the concerns of the victims are accommodated. To this end, he said, the federal government must ensure the participation of local representatives in rehabilitation efforts.
Nawaz also spoke against political point-scoring and photo ops, saying that the affectees needed all the help they could get. He also said the federal government should give at least Rs100,000 to each affected family before Eid.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also said that the federal government should take the provinces into confidence regarding international aid and the provinces should be given a proportionate share from foreign donations. Any sort of delay, he warned, could adversely affect people stuck in flooded waters.
The chief minister also said that reclaiming submerged lands and making them cultivable is his government’s top priority.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2010.
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