Gandhi’s grandson pitches in for Pakistan flood aid

Saturday, September 4, 2010

UNITED NATIONS - Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, has asked people for more help in flood relief efforts in Pakistan, saying humanitarian needs should transcend international rift.

“Let us praise and honour the stoic bravery of the victims of Pakistan’s floods,” Gandhi said.

The floods in Pakistan have affected over 18 million people. The UN had appealed for at least $459.7 million for Pakistan, but only 63.4 percent of the amount has been raised, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Friday.

“These millions of Pakistanis are life-loving, not death-loving millions,” Xinhua quoted Gandhi as saying at the UN headquarters here Friday.

Gandhi is a research professor at the Centre for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois, US. He is a former member of the Rajya Sabha and has written many books.

For the rehabilitation of the flood-hit people much more help is needed from the whole international community, either through the UN or private donations, he said.

“The UN has helped, the US has helped, this aid has been priceless, but so much more is needed,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi said India’s sympathy for the Pakistanis could be an opportunity for the “removal of the wall of enmity and mistrust” between the two countries.

“It is a possibility, and it really depends on so many of us in India and Pakistan if we are to take advantage of this,” Gandhi said.

Meanwhile, Abduallah Hussain Haroon, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, said he greatly appreciated donations from “people of all races, all colours and all religions”, including the people and government of India.

Disease, displacement and economic problems are certain to linger long beyond the initial recovery stage, he said, adding “This is the tip of the iceberg, the worst is yet to happen”.

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