President asks artists, players, NGOs to back govt’s relief effort

KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari has called upon artists, players and NGOs to support the government in its efforts to provide relief and rehabilitate  the flood affectees in Sindh.He was addressing leading Pakistani players, artists and heads of various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at Bilawal House  here Tuesday to show their support to government in fund raising.Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Information Minister Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf MNA, Nazar Mohammad Gondal MNA, provincial ministers and senior government officers were present on the occasion.He said that the magnitude of  devastation was huge and the government alone cannot accomplish the relief and rehabilitation work.

Talking to artists, the President said that Sindh was facing a huge devastation due to flooding and the government cannot handle such a catastrophe single handedly. “We need your support and we will give you our support in your efforts to raise funds for your affected brethren.”He said that artists can draw attention of people in and outside Pakistan towards the wide range of destruction across Sindh.“From the core of my heart and on behalf of the people of Pakistan, I seek the cooperation of young artists in this gigantic task. I ask you to lead and the government will follow,” President Asif Zardari said.

He said that artists can chalk out their plans for holding concerts for fund raising and the government will provide the logistic support and Pakistani missions will be asked to extend their support to them for their shows overseas.He said that the nation was passing through a test of time and the government with the support of civil society will overcome this challenge.President Asif Zardari pointed out that the government wants to do work on the basis of self- help. “We have saved a large quantity of wheat and its seeds and we will give it to growers of those areas in Sindh and Balochistan which were not affected due to heavy rains so that we can have enough grain to feed our nation.”

Federal Information Minister Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said that she will lead the team of artists in their efforts to raise funds for flood victims. The Ministry of Information will provide an umbrella to all these efforts, she added.Speaking on the occasion, leading artists suggested for holding musical concerts in leading cities of Pakistan and folk heritage shows in leading capitals of different countries where overseas Pakistanis are residing, to raise funds.

They also suggested motivating wealthy Pakistanis to adopt  the affected families on “one rich man one affected family basis.”Prominent drama writer Fatima Suraiyya Bajya, Shakeel, Javed Shaikh,President Arts Council of Pakistan, Qazi Wajid, Behroze  Sabzwari, Abid Ali, Abdullah Kadwani, Ayub Khosa, Zeba Bakhtiar, Fazila Qazi, Shazia Khusk, Faakhir were present on the occasion.

Addressing star players and athletes, President Asif Zardari said Pakistani star players should extend their support to the government’s efforts to mobile people and raise funds for the affectees. He suggested for raising funds by holding a big T20 cricket match between the two teams of leading Pakistani cricketers. This will mobilise  and unite the nation for this cause, he observed.The President  also asked Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board Ejaz Butt to examine the possibility of moving T20 match from Lahore to Karachi keeping in view the spread of dengue virus.

Leading cricketing legends including Javed Miandad, Sadiq Mohammad, Wasim Bari, Sikandar Bakht, Mohsin Hasan Khan, Shahid Afridi, hockey legends Samiullah, Hassan Sardar, fastest Asian woman Naseem Hameed, Nazo Tahir were present on the occasion.In his interaction with the heads of leading NGOs, the President underlined the need for their capacity building in reaching out to the affected people in marooned areas. He asked the NGOs to give suggestions as to how the government can help them in relief work in the affected areas.“We need to enhance our capacity to deal with such catastrophes without depending on others. We must enhance our indigenous capacity in a way that we should lessen our  dependence on outside world, President Asif Zardari said.

President said that he will stay in Sindh for some time and try to evolve a capacity building system and streamline it so as to meet such a calamity. We must evolve a system together for this purpose.He said  “Pakistanis are a resilient nation and we will convert all the challenges into opportunities. We will immunise children, register women and issue them cards to give them cash and kind.

”The President asked NGOs to support the government by picking districts for relief work in the affected areas.On a suggestion, the President said that NDMA will open its office in Sindh.The President pointed out that the government has approached South Korea for the supply of mosquito nets in large quantity for the flood affectees.Leading social workers Abdus Sattar Edhi, Ramzan Chhipa, Yousuf Lakhani, Zia Awan, Sadiqa Salahuddin, Dr. Azra were also present on the occasion. – APP