Monday, September 13
Punjab sticks to its flood stats; offers for scrutiny
The Punjab government, while offering itself for the scrutiny of its claims regarding the flood devastation, will present its case for procuring relief in cash and kind from the Centre in the upcoming Council for Common Interests meeting to be held on Monday (tomorrow).
It is expected that in the meeting, the provinces would demand direct access to information about the arrival and disbursement of relief assistance, besides discreetly asking for transparent and balanced distribution of international monetary assistance.
In the CCI meeting, the demand from the Centre would be of uniformity rather than preference, while asking for share to meet the tabled-requirements of all the provinces sans getting into others-are-wrong-and-I-am-right fuss.
Earlier, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday had said the meeting of the CCI would prepare a national strategy for rehabilitating the affected people in consultation with the provinces, and as per sources, the Council would also devise the mechanism for the disbursement of the relief among the provinces.
However, despite this, scepticism has been voiced by political elements about who would get the largest piece of the relief pie besides suspicions are being substantiated about inflated figures of provinces for procuring maximum relief from the federal government.
The wary political elements believe that Sindh and Punjab, by using their political and bureaucratic influences respectively, would get bigger share, while other provinces would lose even their rightful one.
It has been stated that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government would try to prove that figures of Punjab and Sindh were not based on reality and contradicted their claims. So far the pointed out stats show that in Punjab, 8.2 million had been affected, but relief goods distributed were between 300,000 to 400,000 tons, whereas Sindh claimed that 1.4 million houses had been affected. This is being deemed contradictory to the latest UN figures and of Premier Gilani’s, which is 1.2m houses damaged or destroyed in the country. If average size of family is 7 persons, then the total number of affected Sindhis comes to 9.8m.
Hence, the total number of affectees in Punjab and Sindh reaches 18m, which is one million more than the UN figure of 17m Pakistanis affected.
On the other hand, the Sindh government has calculated 3.7m affected people, whereas the UN has the figure of 470,910 houses damaged or destroyed in Sindh.
While not specifically pinpointing any province for attempting at maligning Punjab’s image for getting lion’s share from the yet-to-be-announced relief, provincial government’s spokesperson Senator Pervaiz Rasheed averred that the Punjab considered the flood havoc as a national crisis, not of one province only. He maintained that the Punjab was not asking for nothing extra but what was required since all was known to everyone concerned. “The Centre can have a commission for evaluating damages, and our suggestion for non-partisan commission will have done away with such suspicions,” he said, while asserting that the dissenting elements could evolve their agreed mechanism, and the Punjab was ready for scrutiny applicable to all. “Despite damage, Punjab is still sending relief trucks to KP and Sindh because to us, the flood is a national crisis,” he added.
He also pointed out that the Centre was yet to actualise its promises. “So far neither we have got kind nor cash from the federal government. We wanted to disburse Rs 20,000 to affected families before Eid, as promised during the meeting with PM, but nothing done so far,” he contended.
On the other hand, Punjab Finance Minister Tanvir Ashraf Kaira was yet to be informed about the CCI meeting, though he was of the view that relief would be as per damage.