Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has urged government officials to rise above political affiliations and draft a strategy to address the aftermath of the massive flooding that has affected a huge part of the Asian country’s population. Gilani made the call before a meeting of the country’s Council of Common Interest, which was attended by Pakistan’s four chief ministers, various federal ministers and senior government officials, the Dawn reports. The prime minister stressed the importance of drafting a strategy that includes immediate relief measures and a sustainable reconstruction and rehabilitation plan.
The strategy should be made in a transparent and fair manner through an institutional oversight body that conforms to national standards, Gilani said. He added that the CCI was the best forum for tackling the issue.
“We need to make a collective plan for our distressed brothers and sisters, without a consideration for political gains, party affiliation or regional preferences,” Gilani said as quoted by the Dawn.
On the distribution of relief funds, Gilani assured that there will be no “discrimination in the distribution of the available resources.”
“I have instructed the concerned agencies that there will be zero tolerance for misuse of authority,” he added, according to the Dawn.
Gilani’s remarks come amidst reports that several donors are wary of donating flood relief funds through the Pakistani government because of its record of corruption. There are also allegations that some Pakistani politicians and landlords have been diverting relief goods.
“Pakistanis are scandalized and embarrassed that their politicians, bureaucrats and generals have fostered so much corruption for so long that nobody trusts them to deal fairly with the victims of this summer’s historic floods,” Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist and author, notes in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post.
Rashid said it is time for the Pakistani government to get its act together and work to restore public trust.
“Pakistan’s civilian government needs a trust fund along the lines of the one funding the Afghan government, army and police. Such a fund would not only monitor donated cash but help the government put together a nonpolitical reconstruction effort. It could give a voice to the competent Pakistani technocrats, NGO workers and economists that the government has so far ignored,” Rashid writes.
He says the fund could be manged by the World Bank and other similar agencies and should be overseen by an independent group of Pakistani economists.
“Pakistan’s bureaucracy and army, who would be implementing the plans, could have seats at the table, but they should not have veto power over how the money comes in or is spent,” he adds.
Concerns over extremism
International and local aid agencies are struggling to reach as many flood-affected people as possible. But, in some areas, groups believed to have ties with Islamic extremists are filling the void, the Voice of America says.
“A month after flood waters inundated vast areas of Pakistan, millions of people are still awaiting some sort of help from their government. This is creating an opening for at least one Islamic group with possible extremist ties,” the news agency notes.