New Delhi: India on Tuesday announced an additional $20 million assistance to Pakistan which is grappling with the worst floods in recent history of the region.
The announcement by external affairs minister S M Krishna in the Lok Sabha comes in the wake of Pakistan’s readiness to accept India’s initial aid offer of $5 million which is to be routed through the United Nations.
“As a more concrete assessment of the damage inflicted by this natural disaster and the urgent needs of the people of Pakistan emerges, government has decided to increase its assistance to Pakistan from $5 million, announced earlier, to $25 million,” he said in a suo motu statement.
Of the total aid, $20 million would be contributed to the ‘Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan’ launched by the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian efforts, he said.
The balance $5 million would be contributed to the World Food Programme for its relief efforts in Pakistan, Krishna said.
He noted that India had offered $5 million aid to Pakistan during his telephonic talks with Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on 13 August.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a conversation with Pakistan Premier Yusuf Raza Gilani on 19 August, had conveyed that India was ready to do more to assist the neighbouring country which is facing the worst floods in the past 80 years.
Pakistan was reluctant to accept the aid and agreed only after a nudge from the US. However, last week Pakistan conveyed to India to route the aid through the UN.
“We cannot remain unconcerned with this grave humanitarian crisis of enormous magnitude in our immediate neighbourhood,” Krishna said.
He noted that the recent floods have been described as the worst in that part of the region in the last 80 years.
According to the latest UN figures, 17.2 million people have been affected by the floods which have left 1,600 people dead.
More than 1.2 million houses have been damaged or destroyed besides widespread damage to infrastructure, Krishna said.
“All the four provinces of Pakistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir have suffered the consequences,” he said.