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Indo-Pak precedent of help during natural disasters: Qureshi

world Updated: Aug 22, 2010 00:02 IST

PTI
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Following the acceptance of India's USD 5 million for flood relief efforts, Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said that New Delhi and Islamabad had a past record of providing assistance to each other when faced with natural disasters.

Qureshi visited New York, this week, to urge the international community to give more aid and funds to the 20 million people hit by the worst floods the country has witnessed.

"Well, we have been helping each other in the past. India has helped Pakistan during the 2005 earthquake. We responded to them when they had natural disasters," Qureshi said.

"So, there is a precedent, and we are neighbours. So, this was a very welcome gesture on their part. And we in Pakistan appreciate this gesture," he added.

Qureshi avoided the question on why it took so long to accept the aid, but when asked whether there were political sensitivities involved in accepting the aid he said, " No, as I said, there are past precedents.

And, you know, they have helped us, and we have helped them."

Speaking on Friday at the United Nations, India expressed heartfelt sympathy towards the losses suffered by its neighbor and pledged full support in helping with relief efforts.

"We are willing to do all that is in our power to assist Pakistan in facing the consequences of floods," Hardeep Singh Puri, India's envoy to the UN, told the General Assembly on the second day of an emergency session on Pakistan's floods.

Pakistan has been hit by unprecedented floods, which have drowned one fifth of its land, killed around 2,000 people and impacted an estimated 20 million people with around 6 million in need of emergency aid, which includes 3,5 million children. The US had also urged to accept India's offer for Pakistan.

"In terms of responding to a disaster, politics should play no role. You have a country that's willing to help and...we expect that Pakistan will accept," P J Crowley, State Department spokesperson, said earlier this week.

Crowley also rejected reports in the Pakistan media that India and US were responsible for the floods.

"It was the United States and India that conspired to have the monsoons come to Pakistan? I don't find that credible."

Meanwhile, the UN has launched a flash appeal for 460 million out of which USD 263 million has been received, which is approximately 57 per cent.