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In a snub, Pakistan asks India to send aid through UN
Islamabad/Washington, Aug 28 (IANS):
Published on 28 Aug. 2010 11:40 PM IST
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Pakistan has declined an Indian offer of $5 million aid for flood victims directly and wants it to be routed through the United Nations, Dunya TV reported here Saturday.
“We have conveyed to India that they can send their aid to us through UN,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told Dunya TV by via telephone. He said the UN was the flagship organisation for all foreign aid pouring into the country from different parts of the world for flood-hit people.
India offered the aid to assist the rehabilitation of over 20 million displaced people in Pakistan following flash floods that started July 28 and continue to rock the infrastructure across the country. More than 1,600 people have died this month. Pakistan had earlier shown reluctance to accept the Indian offer.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani Aug 19 to reiterate the offer. Finally, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi confirmed to media in New York, on the sidelines of UN General Assembly’s special session, Aug 20 that Pakistan has decided to accept the offer.
The gesture was widely welcomed. Later the Pakistani prime minister sent five boxes of mangoes to Manmohan Singh to say thanks. Despite the lapse of more than a week since accepting the offer, Pakistan and India could not agree on the modalities for transporting the aid material. Finally, Pakistan decided against accepting the Indian offer directly Saturday and the same was conveyed to the government of India.
“We have asked them to hand over this assistance package to the UN organisations who are working in India as well,” Abdul Basit said. He, though, expressed reluctance to give any reason for this diplomatic snub. “We have appreciated the offer but it’ll not be appropriate to publicly discuss the reasons involved in deciding to route it through UN,” he said.
USAID chief makes hasty exit from Pak
USAID chief Rajiv Shah who was in Pakistan to oversee flood relief had to make a hasty exit from the country following a terrorist threat, a media report said Saturday. Shah was asked to immediately leave a relief camp in Pakistan’s Sukkur city Wednesday by his security staff as he faced an “imminent threat” from militants, Dawn reported on its website.
“Within a few minutes of being there, our diplomatic security informed me that there were some suspicious individuals in the area and we needed to leave. So we tried to make as graceful and appropriate an exit as possible,” Shah told reporters after returning to Washington.
Shah, who is administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said he had been speaking to flood victims who told him they had lost all their belongings, including shoes and their children were “malnourished and ill”.
“I really did want to listen to people standing in line and learn about how we, together with our partners, can mount the most effective response on their behalf,” Shah said.
Shah believed the militants went to the camp because he was there. He said it was “deeply saddening that others would choose to use these environments to propagate themselves”.
But he insisted the US was committed to a “strong and effective response in cooperation with the people of Pakistan”, including helping with reconstruction once floodwaters recede.
Shortly after Shah’s visit, a group linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group said in a statement that it was in charge of the camp and hence Shah was endorsing its activities.
Shah, however, denied the claim and said it is run by UN World Food Programme.
US officials have warned of threats by extremists against foreign workers helping in flood relief. Some 17 million Pakistanis are affected in the floods.
The US has mobilised over $200 million for flood relief, hoping its helping hand will dent anti-US sentiments in the country.

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