QUETTA: US Ambassador in Pakistan, Anne W Patterson has said that an American consulate will be set up in Quetta to oversee the development activities carried out by the Americans in Balochistan.
“The consulate will be set up to monitor the development activities being carried out by the US in Balochistan. It will also ensure a close liaison between the Baloch people and the US, and would provide visa facility to the people of Balochistan,” she said, while refuting the allegation that the consulate was intended to monitor activities in Iran and Afghanistan at a press conference here on Wednesday.
Patterson, accompanied by the American Consul General Karachi William Martin, also denied former prime minister Mir Zaffarullah Khan Jamali’s allegation that the floodwaters were diverted to Naseerabad in Balochistan to save the Shabaz airbase.
“It is mere fabrication and untrue,” she remarked, adding that the US government, in accordance with the senior Pakistani officials had already denied it.
She also took an aerial view of the flood-ravaged areas in Jaffarabad and was accompanied by Minister Rahila Durrani, who happens to be a focal person for Balochistan’s flood relief. She remarked that the floods have caused massive devastation in Balochistan, and in the other parts of Pakistan.
While commenting on US flood relief efforts, she said that their government was the first entity to respond to Pakistan’s flood devastation, and was the largest donor with S200 million pledged. She said that the donation was being spent through United Nations’ agencies like the World Food Program, World Health Organisation and Unicef to ensure that it reaches the right people.
“All possible steps should be taken to maintain transparency in distribution of relief goods and other necessities of life to the flood victims,” she maintained.
She further said that 15 US military helicopters were currently involved in the rescue and relief activities to help the flood survivors, adding that 10,000 people had so far been rescued. She said that many C-130 aircraft were moved from Afghanistan in connection with the relief activities and the number of US helicopters and aircraft would increase in the coming days.
Dispelling the impression of the trust deficit, she said that they had provided $1 million to the Benazir Income Support Programme, and were already coordinating with different organisations in the Pakistani government.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2010.