US sets up new fund to help Pakistan
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Dawn on Thursday that the United States has set up a new fund for Pakistan’s flood victims, besides contributing $150 million more to relief efforts.
In an exclusive interview in her office, the top US diplomat also said that she understood that the Pakistani military had to divert its resources from the war on terror to attend to the flood victims and while it might hurt the war, it was necessary to do so.
“The Department of State has established the Pakistan Relief Fund for all Americans to join in this tremendous relief, recovery and reconstruction effort,” she said.
“The pictures we see coming out of Pakistan are painful images of human suffering at its worst. In surveying the lives and landscape affected by this disaster, we see brothers and sisters; mothers and fathers; daughters and sons,” she added.
“We see 20 million members of the human family in desperate need of help. This is a defining moment – not only for Pakistan, but for all of us,” she said. “And now is a time for our shared humanity to move us to help.”
Obviously moved and saddened by the suffering of the Pakistani flood victims, Secretary Clinton angrily rejected the suggestion that America was helping Pakistan to boost its image in a key allied nation in the war against terror.
“It is an unfortunate characterisation,” she said. “Americans have always been the most generous responder to natural disasters anywhere in the world.”
Addressing the American nation, the secretary said: “I call on you to do what you can. Every dollar makes a difference. $5 can buy 50 high energy bars providing much, needed nutrition; $10 can provide a child or mother with a blanket; and about $40 can buy material to shelter a family of four.”
She urged Americans to go to the Department of State’s Pakistan Relief Fund and send $20 through their mobile phones by texting the word FLOOD, F-L-O-O-D, to 27722.
“If we come together now, we can meet this challenge and ensure that future generations in Pakistan have a chance to have the bright future they deserve and fulfil their own God-given potential,” she said.
“No, I don’t think so,” said Secretary Clinton when asked if perceived or real corruption in Pakistan was preventing the international community from contributing generously to flood relief funds.
“The extent of this disaster is overwhelming, how you know how and where and when to deliver resources when the disaster is ongoing. It hasn’t stopped,” she said.
“Why the US makes corruption a big issue in Afghanistan and not in Pakistan?” she was asked.
“Corruption is a cancer that eats away the body politic, and unfortunately it diverts resources from where they were intended,” she said.
“I have been very straightforward in my visits to Pakistan and in my interviews in saying that we want to see the democratic government of Pakistan to do better, really deliver services to people.”
“So what would say to those in the media who portray corruption as a major reason for the world’s reluctance to help Pakistan?” she was asked.
“I would say save lives. Save property. Do what we can. Corruption, unfortunately, has been with us, is with us and always be with us. It must be attacked and it must be rooted out but I don’t think it does a service to the people who are suffering to have some diversionary side conversation about corruption,” she said.
“Let us get as much done and as quickly as possible. Let us be sure that the funds flow where they are intended to.”
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