- Out of which $170 million converted to firm commitments
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs was informed that following the UN Flash appeal, Pakistan has received $3.4 billion for flood relief operations and reconstruction.
The meeting of the committee, chaired by its chairman Mohsin Dawar, discussed Pakistan’s international treaties, international assistance for flood relief operations, mechanisms for transfer/repatriation of prisoners abroad, tracing and recovery of a Pakistani doctor Saqib Raza who is illegally detained in Syrian Kurdistan and appointment of Honorary Counsellors in Pakistan.
The committee was given briefing by senior officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the pledges and disbursements following the UN flash appeal for the international community to assist Pakistan’s flood victims.
“The committee was informed that in response to UN Flash appeal, pledges worth $270 million have been made. Of these pledges, $170 million has been converted to firm commitments. On members’ queries regarding cumulative assistance received, it was informed that Pakistan has received $3.4 billion for flood relief operations and reconstruction,” said a press release issued by the office of the chairman of NA Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.
In the summary presented to the committee, it was told that in response to UN Flash Appeal for USD 816 million, pledges worth USD 304.4 million have been made. Of these pledges, USD 174 million has been converted to firm commitments (donors concluded agreements with UN Agency/INGO for the disbursement of funds).
The international friends/partners have committed financial aid worth USD 277 million (mostly for in-kind relief goods) which are not part of UN Flash Appeal.
It was further informed that the multilateral financial institutions have also allocated funds/loans for the flood relief assistance.
The World Bank has repurposed a loan worth USD 281 while AIIB has offered a USD 500 million loan. ADB has repurposed USD 475 million loans as well as granted a 3 million new funding.
The committee was informed that the total multilateral lending amounts to USD 1259 million.
It was further told that the sum of all pledges under UN Flash Appeal, bilateral and multilateral assistance amounts to USD 1807.4 million.
Pakistan has received 140 planeloads, 13 trainloads and 6 shiploads of relief goods from our international friends and partners like Turkey, China, the USA, KSA, the UAE, Qatar, the EU etc.
Till date, the International Assistance received by NDMA includes 25187 tents, 2205 tarpaulins, 16, 352 blankets, 1493 sleeping mats, nearly 8000 kitchen sets, 54826 food packs and 182 ration, 1030 units of baby food, 31 tons of medicine, 4722 hygiene kits, 87 water pumps and 58 boats.
The panel was told that assistance is also being received from Pakistani citizens and diaspora through various mechanisms such as directly to the PM Flood Relief Fund, to NGOs, relatives, individuals, etc. To date, an amount of 3,925 million Pak Rupees (equivalent to USD 18 million) has been received in the PM Flood Relief Accounts, including PKR 1942 million (8.93 million USD) donations from overseas, according to a summary shared with the panel.
In response to the members’ concerns whether the Flash Appeal was successful in meeting the desired targets, it was observed that the appeal was “mildly successful” against the ambitious target set; however, given the international community’s shift in attention to Ukraine, Flash Appeal was a success.
It was also outlined that Pakistan played a lead role in the international consensus for the establishment of Loss and Damage Fund in the COP27. The MoFA officials said that this was a major breakthrough to establish institutional arrangements to address climate-induced disasters, particularly in the developing world.
The members, however, noted that compared to the scale of disaster, the response of the international community was not commensurate with the scale of support rendered in the 2010 floods and the 2005 earthquake. They outlined that declining international interest in the region and don’t fatigue were key obstacles to Pakistan’s appeal.
The committee was also briefed about Pakistan’s various international treaties. The panel recommended that the government of Pakistan should ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, affirm the International Convention for Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families respectively.
The committee also examined the matter pertaining to tracing and recovery of Dr Saqib Raza, a Pakistani maxillofacial surgeon illegally in Syrian Kurdistan. The mother of the detained doctor Saqib Raza was invited to the meeting.
The officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained that Pakistani mission in Damascus engaged the ICRC, UNHCR and UNICEF to trace Pakistani nationals detained in Syrian Kurdistan. However, repatriation of such detainees requires policy formulation from the Ministry of Interior.
The committee noted with concern and regretted that such a policy was not devised in four years since the case was reported. The committee directed to call the officials of Ministry of Interior to the next meeting on the same subject and urged the Foreign Office to consider the case on a priority basis.
The officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the panel that the Pakistani missions provide comprehensive assistance to Pakistani prisoners abroad. However, the transfer of prisoners and offenders requires bilateral treaties with various countries and that such agreements were concluded and ratified with the concurrence of both sides to the agreements.
The members raised concerns as to why such arrangements were still not in place as Pakistani prisoners languish in foreign jails. The committee also underlined the need for a clear political direction regarding Transfer of Prisoners Treaties with various countries and directed to call senior officials of the Ministry of Interior at the next meeting of the Committee.
In the next meeting, the committee would call the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to brief the participants on treaties for transfer of prisoners and offenders with various countries and the report of the inquiry Commission about Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif’s death in Kenya.
The meeting was attended by Mohsin Dawar, Muhammad Khan Daha, Ramesh Kumar, Muhammad Abubakar, Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur, and Syed Abrar Ali Shah.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022