President Asif Ali Zardari and Senator John F. Kerry on Thursday had an aerial view of the flood-hit Jampur.President Zardari was accompanied by US Senator John Kerry who arrived in Pakistan Wednesday night to personally review the damage caused by devastating floods.Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, US Ambassador to Islamabad Anne Patterson, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Washington Hussain Haqqani also accompanied President Zardari during the visit.
US Senator John Kerry has said catastrophe caused by floods is an enormous international challenge which requires the collective response by the world. US Senator John Kerry said there had been strong and effective cooperation between civil and military administrations in the relief work being carried out in the flood affected ares of Pakistan with international help and support. He acknowledged the close coordination of the army with the country’s democratic government in this relief operation.
Senator Kerry said the main objective of his visit to the flood affected areas was to witness the magnitude of the losses.
Replying to a question about credibility of politicians in this relief work, Senator Kerry said the helicopters provided by the US for the relief measures are not flying to the houses of any politicians, but providing food to flood victims across the board.
“We want long term commitment with Pakistan and will ensure it through more help and assistance to the flood affected people.”, he said.
Answering a question about the international community’s slow response to provide aid to Pakistan he said, he was impressed by the assistance in pipeline. He said the UN General Assembly is meeting today on Pakistan’s request and expressed the hope that more assistance would come after this meeting. He said the majority of funds from the KLB (Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009) would also be spent on rehabilitation work in the flood affected areas, providing food, education and medical aid.
He was addressing a joint news conference with President Asif Ali Zardari at Chaklala airbase, Rawalpindi after visiting the flood-hit areas in Southern Punjab. Senator Kerry said the United States would lead the international efforts to help Pakistan cope with biggest challenge, as President Barack Obama is taking special interest in the relief efforts. President Asif Ali Zardari told the media that the devastation is so vast that it’s not a one or one country job. He said slowly and gradually the world has realized the magnitude of the devastations and now the international community is helping Pakistan.
After seeing what he described as “miles upon miles” of devastation, the US Senator John Kerry on Thursday joined hands with President Asif Ali Zardari seeking swift aid for preventing militants from exploiting the unprecedented flood situation.
“We need to address that, all of us rapidly, to avoid their impatience boiling over or some people exploiting that impatience,” President Zardari said.
“The world is slowly and gradually realising that it is not a one-day job, it is not a one-country issue, it is a huge problem and it is a huge catastrophe,” he added. “I think the world is standing with us,” he believed.
“None of us wants to see this crisis to provide an opportunity or an excuse for people who want to exploit the misfortune of others for political or ideological purposes,” said Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and co-authored a record 7.5-billion-dollar aid bill for Pakistan.
“It is important for all of us to work to provide the assistance that is necessary… I know that President Obama is determined to do that,” he added.
He is the first senior US policymaker, who visited Pakistan since the disaster struck affecting 20 million people. Kerry, who visited ravaged areas in Punjab, spoke of “miles upon miles” of destroyed homes, of people dislocated, of people in camps in great heat losing their possessions, growing frustrated, worried about the future.
President Zardari said, “We are giving them everything we’ve got. There is a possibility that some negative forces would exploit this situation,” he said. “I am sending an SOS on that. All this catastrophe gives strength to those forces that do not want a state structure,” he added.
Sen. John Kerry and President Zardari press conference