Millions of flood victims in Pakistan join Eid festivitiesBy Awais Saleem, IANS
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
ISLAMABAD - Millions of Pakistanis Wednesday celebrated Eid-ul-Azha without any shelter or food despite over three months having lapsed since the floods in the country washed away their homes and placed them at the mercy of the authorities concerned.
There are several areas in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces where the people are still living in the open without any proper help having reached them.
The approaching winters are making their lives even more miserable as they try to pick up the pieces of their devastated life.
The political and ruling elite made an attempt to spend the Eid day with the flood stricken people in a bid to give them hope for a better tomorrow.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik spent the day in the Pakistani-administered Kashmir’s Bagh city and served the flood-victims with Eid gifts and sweets.
These are our people and we’ll not leave them in this bad condition for long, he said, while agreeing that the pace of progress in some areas may be slow”.
It is only because of the magnitude of problems and we are trying to expedite the efforts to bring everything back on track as early as possible, he stressed.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the pledges made by the foreign donors and friends of Pakistan have started materializing.
I am very hopeful that our demands will be met and we’ll be able to implement the rehabilitation plan as per the initial vision, he observed.
Senior minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Bashir Bilour said that the people of northwestern province are celebrating Eid in a subdued manner because the province was worst-hit by floods and terrorism.
We are very optimistic that we’ll see the day when we will be able to get rid of these issues and celebrate this festive occasion in true letter and spirit, he added.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif spent the day in a village on the border of Punjab and Sindh. He assured the affected people that model villages will be built to provide them with shelter, and necessary funds have already been allocated for this purpose.
Flash floods in Pakistan in July and August left more than 20 million people homeless, while more than 1,800 people died.
Most of the affected people were already living under subsistence level and their lives and properties have been ruined by the worst floods in the region.
The World Bank has estimated that around $9.7 billion would be required only for the rehabilitation of infrastructure.
The Pakistan Development Forum at a meeting in Islamabad last week, attended by foreign envoys and representatives of financial institutions, also highlighted the gravity of the situation and generous pledges were made by several participants.
(Awais Saleem can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)