Delay in the relief operations by the army was primarily because of its flaws in the command structure, and General Pervez Musharraf instead of accepting the mistake, was trying to establish the supremacy of the army, said President Muttahida Majlas-e-Amal and Jama’at-e-Islami Punjab MNA Liaqat Baloch, while addressing a Press conference at a local restaurant on Sunday.
Liaqat Baloch, who is also chairman Al-Khidmat Foundation, maintained that the parliament and the civilian administration should have been given priority in the relief, rescue and rehabilitation efforts. "If army alone initiated the rehabilitation operation, as Pervez Musharraf has envisaged, then it will have to face severe criticism. Therefore, to make the entire process transparent, the rehabilitation plan be launched jointly and coordinated in collaboration with the parliamentarians, civil administration and civil society," he added. He was of the considered opinion that the army should be acting as an ‘assisting force’.
While answering a question about the Israeli aid, and arrival of the NATO forces in the quake-hit areas, Baloch said the Government of Pakistan should not accept Israel assistance for the earthquake affectees and the NATO troops should only be accepted under the UN charter. "We should never accept Israeli assistance for the rehabilitation of earthquake affectees of Azad Jammu Kashmir and NWFP. On the other hand, the NATO helicopters should also be allowed to work under the purview of the UN Charter," he stated.
The MMA leader appreciated the local media for properly projecting and covering the quake-hit areas, but lamented that the foreign media, especially ‘Newsweek’ and ‘Time’ magazines, which were printing stories about the Jehadi outfits and involvement of the Al-Qaeda in the relief efforts. "They (media) were pressurising the Government of Pakistan through the negative portrayal of the Jehadi forces busy in relief activities in the quake-hit areas," he added. Baloch also appreciated the nation for pouring in donations generously.
To a question, he replied that India had already rejected Pakistani proposal of opening the Line of Control (LoC) and had categorically declined any relief activity in the Occupied Kashmir by any external organisation.
Liaqat Baloch said he visited various quake-hit areas in AJK and NWFP, and almost 80 percent population was badly affected, causing more than one lac deaths and hundred and thousands were living in precarious condition. "60 percent houses, public and private buildings have collapsed or severely damaged, while remaining 40 percent cannot house people. Whereas 35 to40 percent area is still out of reach for any material aid and assistance. Loss of infrastructure is more than $ 12 to 15 billion," he said.
While talking about the relief activities of the JI's sister organisation Al-Khidmat Foundation, he said its more than 5000 workers were working day and night at far-flung area, and were providing medical treatment to injured patients at its different medical camps, where 310 doctors, 178 dispensers and 710 paramedics were working.
Baloch said the JI had despatched huge consignments, including 410 truckloads of ration, medicines and miscellaneous items, 5 trucks of mineral water, one lakh blankets and 20,000 tents to the quake-affected areas. "Different organisations from 32 countries are collaborating in the relief activities with their teams. However, still it required lot of donations and assistance to accomplish the task," he added and urged the philanthropists to contribute generously.
MNA Fareed Paracha, Ameer-ul-Azeem and Azhar Iqbal Hassan also accompanied him.
October 23, 2005