ISLAMABAD: The federal government, on the direction of Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, on Friday declared emergency in the country’s rain and flood affected areas.
The prime minister has also directed the Ministry of Finance to immediately release Rs. 5 billion to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), a press release issued by the PM Media Wing here said.
He was presiding over a meeting held here to review the flood situation, which was attended by federal ministers, advisors, members of parliament, chief secretaries of all provinces including Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, Chairman NDMA and Director General Met Office.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister was briefed in detail about the ongoing rescue and relief operations in the country.
Describing the rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the flood-hit people as a national obligation, he said, “We have to help masses beyond our political interests.”
The prime minister said that during his visit to the flood affected areas he talked about unity and national cohesion so that this big challenge could be tackled collectively.
The prime minister also constituted a high-level committee to ensure effective rescue and relief activities through coordination between NDMA and the Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs).
The committee will comprise Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Communication Maulana Asad Mahmood, Minister for Housing and Works Maulana Abdul Wasay, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Advisor to PM on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira, Chairman NDMA and Secretary Communication.
He said that the committee should hold its meeting today (Friday) and give suggestions for better coordination between federal and provincial institutions.
The prime minister said that in view of the climate change, there was a need to formulate medium-term and long-term policies.
He called upon the provincial governments to send authentic information and reports to the federal government so as to assess the damages caused by rains and flood at the earliest.
The prime minister said that in order to avoid rain and flood related losses in future, there was a need of converting all the development projects in line with the climate change priorities.
The committees comprising federal ministers, who visited the flood affected areas, briefed the meeting about the problems regarding rescue and relief.
In his televised remarks at the meeting, the prime minister said that his visits to the flood-hit areas were meant to identify the gaps and address the lack of coordination, if there was any, to tackle the challenge through collective efforts.
He said no doubt the flash floods had badly hit the Balochistan province where logistics the rehabilitation efforts was a challenge owing to widely scattered population.
He said the joint survey was inevitable to make the government assess the damages and pay compensation for the damaged structures and other losses.
He said after disbursement of the funds under National Finance Commission to the provinces, the federal government was left with meagre resources to pay debts and meet other expenditures. However, the resources would have to be generated to cope with the challenge, he added.
Reiterating his call for collective efforts, the prime minister asked the NDMA and PDMA as well as the communications ministry to carry out the repair and rehabilitation works of emergency nature without indulging into the matter debate of jurisdiction as the expenses could later be adjusted mutually between the respective provinces or authorities.
“It is not about you and me. It is about us. All provinces will have to work collectively. It is an urgent matter. This is national and noble cause. We will have to set aside our political ambitions. We will be doing politics but at later stage,” he commented.
He said the people would be praying for their political leaders if they paid due attention to their relief and rehabilitation otherwise the situation would deteriorate if they (politicians) indulged in criticizing each other.