Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Friday all-out help would be provided to the people displaced as a result of a military operation against terrorists in North Waziristan.
“We stand by internally displaced persons (IDPs) in their hour of need,” the chief minister told a meeting that reviewed arrangements made to provide relief to IDPs.
He said the government had decided to provide cash assistance to IDPs and a plan had been finalised in that regard.
The chief minister approved the launch of a “vigorous” fund-raising campaign with the help of overseas Pakistanis, industrialists, traders and chambers of commerce and industry.
The chief minister also formed a committee, headed by Punjab Assembly member Manshaullah Butt, to contact overseas Pakistanis for fundraising.
He said the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for IDPs had been set up and the government had contributed Rs500 million to the fund. He said assembly members from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had donated a month’s salary for the fund.
The chief minister urged philanthropists to contribute generously to the fund. He said every donated penny would reach the deserving people.
“Helping IDPs is our national, religious and moral obligation,” he said.
Sharif said the provincial government had sent 70 truckloads of relief items for IDPs.
National Assembly member Hamza Shahbaz said initially Rs1 billion would be raised in donation from across the Punjab.
Separately, Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan reiterated the government’s resolve to address the issue of terrorism and focus on the rehabilitation of IDPs.
He was speaking at a ceremony at Alhamra Arts Council to mark the formation of the Shahbaz Sharif Volunteer Force for IDPs.
Khan said the participants of Punjab Youth Festival would join the force. They would be tasked with raising funds for the campaign.
Four charity cricket matches, featuring the national cricket team, are planned fundraisers.
These matches will take place in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad.
He said the volunteer force would also organise a walk to collect funds for the IDPs on August 14.
Khan said though the government gave militants the option of holding talks, the way they proceeded showed that an operation was inevitable.
“Our attempts at peace talks were not taken seriously,” he said, “This is a defining moment for Pakistan. It has becomes a question of survival.”
The education minister commended the education sector for responding to the chief minister’s call for donations for IDPs.
He said that terrorist groups had been using the IDPs as a human shield. “While the government wants to remove all terrorists, it also wants to support and rehabilitate all civilians affected in the course of the military operation.”
Several educational institutions and departments under the Ministry for Education donated Rs110 million for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for Internally Displaced Persons at the ceremony.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2014.
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