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KARACHI         - 021 LAHORE          - 042 ISLAMABAD    - 051 FAISALABAD   - 041 MULTAN          - 061 PESHAWAR    - 0521 CANADA          - 1 KUWAIT           - 965 INDIA               - 91 IRAN                - 98 U.K                   - 44 U.A.E                - 971 U.S.A                - 1

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  PM TRACKER

From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Islamabad
Oct 24 - 30, 2005

PM PLEDGES TO BULID MODEL CITIES ON RUINED AREAS

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has assured the nation that the cities damaged by the Oct 8 earthquake of unprecedented magnitude would be rebuilt on modern lines making them shockproof with the help of Pakistani manpower and international community. An Earthquake Rehabilitation and Construction Authority headed by Lt. Gen Zubair, Engineer-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army, has been set up to undertake and supervise this task.

The Prime Minister remained extremely busy during the last week as he visited almost every area hit by the earthquake in Azad Kashmir, NWFP and Islamabad by air or by road, supervised and coordinated the relief operations, attended emergency meetings of the cabinet, called on the President three times besides attending the meeting of the National Security Council. He attended two meetings of the ruling party to organize relief operations by party leaders throughout the country, besides meeting some foreign dignitaries including the US Secretary of State Ms. Condoleeza Rice who called on him at the PM House.

Addressing a press conference at NWFP Governor House after visiting the worst hit areas in the province, the Prime Minster declared his government's resolve to build model cities with all essential civic amenities in place. "We are exploring all possibilities. As a short term measure, the government was striving to set up tented cities as soon as possible to provide shelter to the affected people where inhabitants would be provided food, health care and other facilities to ease their lives," he said adding that in the second phase model cities would be built up for their permanent rehabilitation.

Talking to newsmen at the PML House after attending the meeting of the extensive committee to review the relief measures taken by the party, the Prime Minster said that Pakistan has suffered about five billion dollars losses in private and public sector infrastructure from the massive earthquake. International community has so far pledged $ 500 million, while about Rs. 5 billion have been received in donation from Pakistani community. We are expecting more assistance from the world at large and friendly countries in particular as the United Nations experts have estimated that more $10 billion would be needed to replace the destroyed infrastructure. "The UN expert has said that it will take 10 years to rebuild but we think we can do it earlier," Shaukat Aziz said. Replying to a question about complaints of relief goods not reaching in certain areas, the Prime Minister said that relief and rehabilitation work is being expedited and maximum efforts are being made to prove food and shelter to remote areas affected by the earthquake. However, frequent rains and hailstorm have obstructed the operations in remote and isolated areas, he added.

The National Security Council (NSC) that met on Wednesday with President General Pervez Musharraf in the chair decided to set up a National Disaster Management Authority, (NDMA) to respond to any natural calamity in an effective and organized manner in the future. The Authority would directly operate under supervision of the Prime Minister. The formal announcement for NDMA would be made in a week or so.

It was an extraordinary NSC meeting, with one point agenda to assess the scale of devastation and review relief efforts in the aftermath of Oct 8 deadly earthquake. The meeting examined the pace of ongoing relief operations and steps needed to undertake the mammoth task of large scale rebuilding and rehabilitation of the affected people. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and other members of the council, including the Chief Minister of NWFP, attended the meeting. Azad Jammu and Kashmir President and Prime Minister also attended the meeting on special invitation. President Musharraf especially welcomed NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani and said that his participation in NSC meeting was a "correct decision".

The President emphasized that besides ongoing relief activities, rehabilitation of the victims and reconstruction of infrastructure should be carried out in such a way that in the future the areas incur minimum loss in case of such calamities. He appreciated the spirit of the nation and the manner in which the people, especially the youth of the country, responded to the challenge from the natural disaster.

The federal cabinet, in its emergency meeting presided over by the Prime Minister, decided to set up the Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority this week to immediately start construction of houses for earthquake victims and to rehabilitate the devastated infrastructure in Azad Kashmir and Hazara Division of NWFP as severe winter is round the corner. General Zubair of Pakistan Army has been appointed Chairman of the newly constituted Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority. General Zubair has vast experience of building roads and other infrastructure in the hilly areas as he headed Frontier Works Organization.

After the meeting the Prime Minister told newsmen that our immediate focus is on providing food, medicines and shelter (tents with winter blankets) to the affected people. This is the second stage after the rescue operation that has almost been completed. The third stage would be reconstruction, which is both tough and costly. God willing we shall also complete this task earlier than normally estimated.

Prime Minister said he has constituted a monitoring committee to ensure transparency in management of funds and donations for earthquake victims coming from Pakistan and abroad. "The government will devise a mechanism to be monitored by Prime Minister's office and the head of Prime Minister's Inspection Team Major General Farooq Ahmed would be heading the committee," he added. He said he also plans to appoint a Board of Public Representatives with independent auditors to oversee the management of the funds.

Talking to newsmen at PM House, Shaukat Aziz said, two divisions of Pakistan Army - one each in Azad Kashmir and Mansehra - have been deployed to accelerate the pace of rescue and relief activities in the quake-hit areas.

"In addition, several brigades are deployed in affected areas to carry out relief work and provide food and other support to the people,". He said the purpose of the major redeployment of troops is to spread them in each and every affected area including remote villages. He said that 100 or so troops would be stationed after every 10 kilometers to reach out all the affected people.

Talking to newsmen after meeting the Prime Minister, the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice expressed sorrow and grief over the tragic loss of lives in the earthquake and assured full support and long term US help and cooperation in this regard. She said, "we will be with you in hour of need and not just today but also tomorrow". She said, "The United States has, as many parts of the world, been through natural disasters" and "this is one of epic proportions". Rice said, "I want the people of Pakistan to know that our thoughts are with you". Condoleeza Rice said Pakistan and US military are working together in the earthquake-hit areas in the rescue and relief operation.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister has constituted four cabinet committees to supervise the rescue, relief and rehabilitation work being carried out by the government for the earthquake affectees in different parts of the country including Azad Kashmir. The Foreign Aid Committee will consist of Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adviser for Finance and Minister of State for Economic Affairs. The local Resources Mobilization Committee will consist of Minister for Privatisation, Minister for Commerce and Minister of State for Finance. The Committee for AJK will consist of Minister for Kashmir Affairs, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Minister for Law and Minister for Population Welfare, whereas the Committee for NWFP will include Minister for Industries, Minister for Tourism and Minister of State for Railways. The committees on AJK and NWFP will set up their camp offices at Mansehra and Muzaffarabad to supervise the relief operation and ensure that the relief goods reach the victims speedily.

The Prime Minister, accompanied by his wife twice visited the hospitals in Rawalpindi and Islamabad during the last week to meet and inquire about the health of earthquake victims from Azad Kashmir, NWFP and Islamabad. The couple specially inquired about the health of injured children and women and distributed toys and gifts amongst them.

Talking to newsmen after a visit to Federal Government Services Hospital, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and National Institute of Education in Islamabad, the Prime Minister said that there were over 1,000 injured children under treatment in Rawalpindi/Islamabad hospitals. He said the injured children in the hospitals of the federal capital are from Azad Kashmir, Manshera and other affected areas. The army rescued most of the children while NGOs and local population rescued many others. He said that most of the children are with their parents or relatives but some of them are without any relative. He, however, said adoption of these children is completely banned and the government has already issued clear instructions in this regard. He said the government would first make sincere efforts to find the parents or relatives of the children who are here in the hospitals and if no one would be found, then the government would take their responsibility. He said all the hospitals had been directed that the children should not be adopted by anyone, as they are the asset of the country.

 
 

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