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Refusal would’ve affected resumption of talks
Gilani defends India’s aid

Lahore, August 22
Pakistan, which agreed to accept USD 5 million Indian aid for flood victims following prod by the US, has claimed that the move has enhanced its diplomatic image since refusal would have gone against its insistence on the resumption of dialogue.

After dilly-dallying for several days, Pakistan recently accepted India's offer to provide USD 5 million for the millions of victims of the devastating floods that have swept the country.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that the move to accept the assistance has enhanced Pakistan's diplomatic image and asked those opposed to taking aid from India to give reasons for their stand.

"I would like to ask the critics of Indian aid on what ground we should refuse it. It will be a narrow approach if we refuse aid from India," Gilani told reporters at his residence here. But, the move has been criticised by some politicians.

"The government has accepted the Indian aid offer on the US call," said Senator Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, chairman of PML-N party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. "It was earlier reported in the media but the Foreign Minister (SM Qureshi) made it public on Friday. The US had urged Pakistan to accept the Indian aid offer," Haq was quoted as saying by the 'Jang' newspaper.

Former Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar was quoted as saying that "it is beyond understanding that the government accepted the offer after a few days."

However, Gilani said: "Would it not be a contrast if we refused the aid? On one hand we are stressing on the resumption of dialogue with India and on the other, we refuse its aid. We should come out of this approach and give a strong image to Pakistan.” He said he was chairing a high-level meeting when he was informed about India’s offer to provide aid. “I told my Foreign Minister to thank his Indian counterpart for the aid,” he said.

Gilani noted that both Pakistanis and Indians had collected funds for the flood-affected people. Pakistan has received a tremendous response from the world community in response to its call for aid for the flood victims and the government has proposed an independent council to oversee the transparent spending of funds, he said.

“The international community trusted us and that is why such huge aid is pouring in,” he said. The UN has launched a flash appeal for USD 460 million, out of which USD 263 million has been received. The worst deluge in Pakistan’s history has killed nearly 2,000 and affected 3.6 million others. — PTI





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