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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Pakistanis in US urged to help battle floods


Pakistan reached out to the Pakistani-American community urging its members to donate generously to help the rain and flood victims across the country.

“I urge you to step forward to help communities in distress in Pakistan in this difficult hour, to relieve their suffering and meet their needs for shelter, food, healthcare and rehabilitation,” the Dawn newspaper quoted US Ambassador Masood Khan as saying in an open letter to the community.

A statement from the ambassador’s office pointed out that 66 districts in south Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan have been declared calamity hit. The rainfall in coming days was likely to wreak havoc in other areas as well.

Sindh and Balochistan are witnessing the heaviest rainfall this year since 1961.

“There has been tragic loss of life and livestock as well as serious damage to the infrastructure and properties in Pakistan. Livelihoods have been disrupted; crops destroyed; and entire neighborhoods inundated. The magnitude of the calamity is too big; the losses enormous,” Ambassador Khan wrote.

The Dawn quoted community leaders as warning that an appeal to donate to the Prime Minister’s Fund may not be very effective as an overwhelming majority in the Pakistani-American community supports former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The leaders, however, urged the community to rise above party politics and focus on helping the flood victims.

Dr Khalid Abdullah, who heads the Washington chapter of an international organisation called Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), suggested focusing on immediate relief and on “increasing our capacity to deal with such disasters”.

“Monsoons are not new, nor are the floods. Such things have a regular pattern. By now, we should have been ready to absorb excessive water and even use it to our benefit,” he said.

Dr Talha Siddiqui, who is associated with the largest group of Pakistani physicians called APPNA, advised sending “money, tents and medicines”. He also alerted the authorities in Pakistan to prepare for the post-flood infectious diseases “that often do more damage than the flood itself”.

Johnny Bashir, who heads the Washington, Virginia chapter of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), said he plans to hold “a meeting of all groups and factions” at Brookfield Plaza, Virginia, to “promote unity”.

Naveed Akhtar, PML-N’s chief organiser for Virginia, added: “We should work as Pakistanis, putting aside politics. We should get together to see what is needed there.”

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