Govt determined for vibrant Pakistan despite challenges: Gilani

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday said the government is determined to build back a better and more vibrant Pakistan despite the challenges like devastating floods last year. At the inauguration ceremony of OIC Model Village to be constructed in Dera Ghazi Khan district and designation of Abrarul Haq as Humanitarian Ambassador of OIC here, he said the OIC is an important organization that is dedicated to promoting Islamic solidarity, upholding all Islamic causes and promoting comprehensive cooperation among its member states. As a founding member, Pakistan continues to attach high importance to the work of OIC, he said and thanked OIC Secretary General Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu for his initiative of constructing model villages in flood affected areas in cooperation with NDMA and the Youth Parliament of Pakistan.He recalled the initiative of OIC to organize a meeting of the leading Islamic relief organizations in Islamabad in August last year.  “This was a time when the flood waters were mercilessly ravaging towns, villages and dwellings in various parts of the country,” he said adding, “We greatly appreciate this gesture of support and solidarity by our brethren in Muslim countries.”

Gilani said the flood that hit Pakistan last year was an experience of once in a century calamity. It affected more than 20 million people, caused loss of 1.9 million houses and destroyed three million acres of standing crops.Roads, power transmission lines, telecommunication networks and industrial infrastructure also suffered severly, he said adding the damage needs assessment, carried out by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank estimated a total loss of more than US$ 10 billion. It includes US$ five billion loss to agriculture, US$ two billion to houses and US$ three billion to infrastructure.He said 20 percent area of the country was ravaged by flood waters and one in eight Pakistanis was affected; and one in 20 has been rendered destitute.While the majority of people have returned to their devastated houses and started rebuilding their lives from scratch, almost one million continue to live in temporary camps, he said adding the government has decided to give Rs. 100,000 per household to help people rebuild their homes and start new life.“It is also aimed at kickstarting economic activity in affected areas. The government has already disbursed an amount of Rs. 27 billion to 1.4 million families, through Watan cards in a transparent manner,” he informed.

Gilani said the construction of six model villages of hundred houses each by the OIC would convince other philanthropists and humanitarian organizations to follow suit.“We appreciate very much this grand gesture of Islamic fraternity and solidarity by the OIC with the people of Pakistan. We are also grateful to Islamic charitable organizations for their support,” he added.He expressed happiness over designation of Abrarul Haq as Humanitarian Ambassador of OIC.He said, “Abrarul Haq has been a moving force behind the creation of Youth Parliament of Pakistan. These young minds are working for the dignity and self-esteem of millions of ordinary Pakistanis in an effort to bring them into the national mainstream.”“Abrarul Haq is not only a popular singer, his Sahara Trust is also working for the welfare of under-privileged people in the country. The Sahara Hospital in Narowal is a living testimony of his commitment to the social uplift and welfare of fellow Pakistanis – APP