Faced with criticism from some quarters for accepting India's offer of flood assistance — particularly after “American intervention” — Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi this weekend wanted to know from the naysayers on what ground the gesture could have been refused.
In turn, Mr. Gilani was quoted as stating in Lahore on Saturday that accepting India's offer had actually enhanced Pakistan's diplomatic image. “I would like to ask the critics of Indian aid on what ground it should have been refused. It will be a narrow approach to refuse aid from India,” he said, adding that refusal of the offer would have contradicted Pakistan's advocacy for resumption of dialogue between the two countries.
Though Mr. Qureshi, a week ago, attributed Pakistan's indecisiveness on the Indian offer — made on August 13 and accepted on August 20 — to the sensitivities endemic to India-Pakistan relations, on Sunday he maintained that New Delhi's gesture was a positive one and “we should have no hesitation or remorse in accepting it.”
“Let's be realistic”
Asked if accepting the Indian offer was not tantamount to giving up Pakistan's honour, Mr. Qureshi said: “Let's be realistic. We are appealing to the world to help us… India has also come out and offered assistance. They have done it in the past and we have also done it. God forbid, if they face a natural calamity, we will stand by them.''
On whether the Indian offer would be accepted as a bilateral arrangement or routed through the United Nations, the Minister maintained that New Delhi had said it was for Islamabad to prioritise and the modalities were being worked out and would be conveyed to India soon. However, officials maintained that there was still no clarity on how the $5 million would be routed.
The United Nations Financial Tracking System has listed the Indian offer as a bilateral arrangement.