With Pakistan unsure about taking $5 million in flood aid from India, the U.S. has said politics should have no role in disaster response and it “expects” Islamabad to accept the assistance.
“In terms of responding to a disaster, politics should play no role. You have a country (India) that’s willing to help (Pakistan), and we expect that Pakistan will accept,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.
Last week, Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna had called on his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi and offered USD 5 million in aid for flood relief work.
Nearly one-fifth of Pakistan is now reported to be badly hit by the devastating flood; the worst for the country in 80 years.
Three weeks of unusually heavy monsoon rains triggered flash floods in Khyber-Paktunkhwa, Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh provinces of Pakistan, affecting 20 million people.
Over 1,700 people have died and the UN says more than 650,000 people are without basic shelter while six million desperately need emergency aid. Tens of thousands of villages are still under water.
Pakistan has yet to accept the Indian offer.
Mr. Crowley said given the changed circumstances, the U.S. has began to think about what it would do with the long-term security assistance provided to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill and that could require the U.S. shifting it from what it thought was a priority three weeks ago to what is a priority today.
“I think what we’ll have to wait and see what are the mid to long-term economic needs of Pakistan that we could use that funding to address. I guess we would also consider more immediate needs as they arise,” he said.
Frank Ruggiero, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan also asked Pakistan to accept India’s aid.
“I think the priority is to use offers of assistance to help the Pakistani people, so we would encourage Government of Pakistan to accept that (Indian) offer,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister has arrived in New York to attend the special meeting of UN General Assembly on the flood relief work, where he is expected to ask the member states to help Pakistan with more international aid.