‘Trade not aid’ is slogan of government: Zardari

President Asif Ali Zardari said on Friday that all details regarding the inflow of foreign aid for flood victims, its utilisation and distribution should be placed on the web-site to ensure a greater transparency. He was talking to leading anchorpersons and editors of newspapers at Bilawal House here.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, Chief Minister’s Advisor on Information Jameel Soomro, President’s Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar, Press Secretary to the President, Taimur Azmat were also present on the occasion. “In my opinion all the information should be open to you on web-site so that you can see it. My daughter Bakhtawar had raised Rs 130 million and the detail of this amount and its utilisation is on the web-site,” he added.

He said that the government should utilise modern technology to bring in a total transparency in the use of foreign aid. President Asif Zardari lauded the role of Pakistan’s armed forces in rescue and flood relief efforts and said it is a collective effort of the government and the armed forces of Pakistan. “Armed forces are part and parcel of the government and they have done a tremendous job in rescue and flood relief,” he noted.

President Zardari said this joint effort coupled with precautionary measures have helped in reducing human casualties in such a vast devastation in the presence of meagre resources. The government’s first priority was to save peoples lives and we have done it, he observed. He said 50 percent of Pakistan has been destroyed by the tragedy as right bank of Indus in Punjab and left bank in Sindh has been inundated by the floods.

He pointed out that the Allah Almighty has given this government a chance to make a better Pakistan after the floods. The President said that he has been using his office to convince the world to help Pakistan in this hour of tragedy and China, Turkey, USA, IMF, World Bank have come forward in a big way. Responding to question, he said that IMF is aware of the colossal losses Pakistan has sustained in this flood and they will hopefully reschedule the loans.

He said that “Trade not aid” is the slogan of the government, which is seeking market access for our exports. We will press forward with this slogan and take our case to the world. He said that people need reconstruction of their damaged houses and the government will do it in a better way with the help of modern technology. We will be importing modern plants to produce 2.5 million high quality bricks per annum for building houses.

The government will decide on this, he added. Responding to a query about Indus Basin Treaty, the President said that Pakistan’s representative was currently consulting with lawyers on the possibilities of going into arbitration on this issue. We need to get better understanding of the issue so that nobody takes anybody’s right.

To a question on the formation of commission on floods, he said he has no objection to this proposal neither has the government. What will be the parameters and who will be arbitrators has to be decided by the government, he added.

Responding to another question on the construction of dams, the President said that the dams will be constructed only after achieving consensus among provinces. He said that China has agreed to build dams in Pakistan. Referring to 18th Amendment, he said that 80 percent of PPP’s manifesto has been fulfilled after its passage into a law. This is a political highway of future, he observed.