Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Sky Scrapers are under Construction in Islamabad

Islamabad the Green and Beautiful city and Capital of Pakistan has lots of construction activities in these days. There are some new Sky Scrapers will be ready very soon. Work on Centaurus is going on very fast track and three towers are near to completion in coming months and now we can see them from anywhere in the city.

 Telecom tower is also near to completion it will be fully functional in coming months. This Sky Scraper is also an great edition in the Islamabad Beauty.

National Insurance Corporation (NIC Tower) is now fully operational and its internal civil work is almost finished.

Islamabad - A Beautiful Green Valley

Islamabad is the most beautiful green valley which must be seen after moon soon Rainy season. Because after that you will see lush green area around you.

Here are some Latest pictures from Islamabad.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pakistan floods affect up to 2.5 million

Fear of water-borne diseases -- such as cholera and malaria -- growing due to lack of clean water.

Fears were growing about outbreaks of disease among 2.5 million people affected by Pakistan's worst floods in 80 years after monsoon rains killed many hundreds of people. 

Islamist charities, some with suspected ties to militants, stepped in Monday to provide aid, piling pressure on a government criticized for its response to the disaster. 

Unprecedented rains triggered floods and landslides, sweeping away thousands of homes and devastating farmland in one of Pakistan's most impoverished regions, already hard hit by years of Talibanand al-Qaida-linked violence. 

Pakistani officials warn that a lack of drinking water is spreading disease, including cholera and malaria, and say they are working to move people from affected areas such as Swat, the scene last year of an offensive against the Taliban.

The official death toll stood at 1,500 people Monday, but many devastated areas are cut off by destroyed roads and bridges.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said that up to 2.5 million people across Pakistan had been affected by the flooding and said the death toll could end up in the thousands.

"In the worst-affected areas, entire villages were washed away without warning by walls of flood water," it said, noting that thousands of people "have lost everything."
It said the coming disease could make this a disaster to rival the 2005 earthquake that hit Pakistani Kashmir, killing an estimated 75,000 people 

"There are 774 deaths registered with us, but the total number killed in the flood is 1,200 to 1,500," Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister for northwest province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told a news conference in Peshawar. 

Hussain said the floods had displaced 500,000 people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and put the figure of people affected by the floods at more than 1.5 million.

Syed Zahir Ali Shah, health minister for the province, said about 100,000 people, mostly children, were already suffering from illnesses. 

"They don't have drinking water or food. They said there have been some visible signs of water-borne diseases," said Muhammad Ali, a spokesman for the charity World Vision.

"We are getting patients with trauma, gastroenteritis, skin diseases and dehydration," doctor Shoaib Mohammad said at a small 20-bed mobile clinic in Nowshehra. 

Fifty-year-old Ajmair Shah went into shock after the floods destroyed his home in Nowshehra. He lay motionless in his hospital bed, staring into the air.

"My house was swept away by the flood, nothing is left there. I have lost everything," he said and started weeping.
People at the camp said there were no proper latrines or bathrooms and that the only respite from the crushing heat was plastic hand fans. Most of them fled in the clothes they were wearing, and many children roamed around naked.
The floods are testing an administration heavily dependent on foreign aid and which has a poor record in crisis management -- whether fighting Taliban insurgents or easing chronic power cuts.
Rescuers are struggling to distribute relief to tens of thousands of people trapped in submerged areas where destroyed roads and bridges make access difficult.
Islamist charities believed to have ties with militants may gain support if their relief efforts pay off, as they did after the Kashmir temblor. 

"They throw food at us as if we are animals and not humans," one man, Ilyas Khan, said, complaining there was no proper system of distribution.

Flood victims condemned authorities over sluggish relief, shouting "give us aid sent by foreign countries" and "death to the corrupt government." 

Many in the path of the floods scrambled to save their livestock. One man swam across heavy currents with his chicken tied around his neck. In one town, there were more than 100 bloated buffalo carcasses, raising the spectre of disease.

Salman Shahid, spokesman for the Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (Foundation for the Welfare of Humanity), said the Islamist group had set up 13 relief and six medical camps, and a dozen ambulances were providing emergency treatment. Several other Islamist groups are also helping out with the relief effort.
Falah-i-Insaniat is believed to have ties to Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity, which the UN Security Council banned last December for its alleged links with Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed for the 2008 attack on the Indian city of Mumbai.
Some analysts expressed doubts that Islamist groups and their militant wings could capitalize on the disaster because army offensives have weakened them. Others said the Islamists' camps had set a dangerous precedent.
"It is very likely that they will exploit the governance vacuum, in the wake of this tragedy, to fuel their own recruitment," said columnist Huma Yusuf.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledged aid of up to $10 million dollars for those affected. The U.S. government announced a $10-million aid pledge and has rushed helicopters and boats to Pakistan. China has also promised $1.5 million. Britain pledged $8 million Monday to help provide safe drinking water and sanitation.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Amir Haider Hoti said the floods were "unprecedented" and warned it could take up to 10 days to assess the overall number of dead and displaced.
"The entire infrastructure we built in the last 50 years has been destroyed," said Adnan Khan, spokesman for the Disaster Management Authority in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistan's meteorological service said much more rain is expected across the northwest in the next few weeks.
The National Disaster Management Authority said troops had rescued more than 28,000 people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by helicopter and boat.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fever and diarrhea are spreading among victims of the worst flooding in Pakistan

Fever and diarrhea are spreading among victims of the worst flooding in Pakistan in decades, officials said Friday amid warnings that storm waters were again surging south along swollen rivers, threatening more destruction.
The floods have affected 14 million people and about a quarter of the country, overwhelming an already weak government coping with crushing economic conditions and attacks by al-Qaida and Taliban militants. Around 1,500 people have been killed since the torrents began more than two weeks ago.
"The crisis facing Pakistan is not only enormous, it's still unfolding," U.N. refugee agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said. "There continues to be massive destruction as the bloated rivers flow southwards across the plains and the crisis in our view will not be over when the flooding recedes."

Pakistan_flood_58Pakistani villagers who fled their flood-affected areas arrive in Jaffarabad, Pakistan on Friday, Aug. 13, 2010. Fever, stomach problems and skin diseases are spreading among Pakistani flood victims, officials said Friday, adding another dimension of danger to a crisis that could get even worse, with the U.N. warning that dams in the south may burst. (AP Photo/Fida Hussain)
Pakistani flood affected villagers sit in the rubble of their houses in Aza Kheil, Pakistan on Friday, Aug. 13, 2010. International aid for Pakistani flood victims is coming in slowly compared to other recent disasters despite the massive number of people affected and the potential for dire economic consequences in a country key to Western hopes in the fight against Islamist extremists. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

Pakistani villagers wave to a Pakistan Navy helicopter approaching a flooded area of Ghaus Pur near Sukkur, in Pakistan's Sindh province, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

Villagers wade through flood waters after having evacuated their homes on August 10, 2010 in the village of Baseera near Muzaffargarh in Punjab, Pakistan. The rivers Indus and the Chenab are in fear of having their levies broken which would cause catastrophic flooding across Punjab and Sindh provinces. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

A Pakistani villager's house was submerged by flood water near Dera Ghazi Khan, Pakistan

A flood-affected man sits over the debris of his house collapsed by flooding in Nowshera, northwest Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

A Pakistani villager stands outside what is left of homes washed away by heavy floods in Charsadda, northwest Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)


Pakistani villagers chase to relief supplies dropped from an army helicopter in a heavy flood-hit area of Mithan Kot, in central Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)

Houses are half submerged in floodwater in Mithan Kot, in central Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)

This aerial view shows a flood-hit area of Kot Addu, Pakistan on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010. Floodwaters ravaged hundreds of villages in Pakistan's main province of Punjab, destroying homes, soaking crops, and threatening more lives. Aid workers warned that bloated rivers would soon surge into the country's south, prompting more evacuations. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)

A boy takes a moment to rest after salvaging belongings from his flood destroyed home on August 4, 2010 near Nowshera, Pakistan. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

A flood-stricken Pakistani family carries belongings retrieved from their home that was destroyed by heavy monsoon rains on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Saudi Arabia announces 300 mn Riyals more in Pak aid

The Custodian of Mosques Shah Abdullah has announced an extra aid of 300 million Saudi Riyals for the victims of unprecedented floods in Pakistan.

According to the spokesman of Saudi Embassy, Saudi King Shah Abdullah announced 300 million Saudi Riyals more for the brothers affected by the worst floods in Pakistan’s history.

He further said that Saudi people have not only gathered aid in cash but also in kind for their Pakistani brothers suffering from the flood disaster of enormous proportions. The assistance will be dispatched to Pakistan soon, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Aziz Ibrahim Saleh Al-Ghadeer added.

He said a separate amount has also been given in aid to United Nations for the victims of flood.

Source: TheNews

Floods kill 1,475; destroy 970520 houses in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Wednesday that credibility of the present democratic government was not an issue as several countries and international institutions have already donated substantial amounts for the flood victims.

While addressing a press conference to give an update about the flood rescue and relief operation here,he said that United States,United Kingdom,Saudi Arabia,United Nations, and several other countries and institutions have donated for flood victims and some other friendly countries were ready to do so.

“The impression being given by certain elements that the credibility of the government was a hurdle in international aid for flood affected people was totally baseless”, he said.
Citing example of IDPs of Swat,Malakand and FATA,he said that despite the doubts of certain elements the government successfully rehabilitated them within three months time.He said that the government had registered the Swat IDPs through a smart card issued by NADRA and the whole world gave funds for them with no complaints of misappropriation.

He said that the world has acknowledged this as the success story of the present democratic regime.Similarly,he added that through Benazir Income Support Programme the government has distributed Rs 1.25 billion among the poorest of the poor. He disclosed that many countries of the world were contemplating to replicate this model to fight poverty,which was not less then a compliment for us.

He made it clear that this time too, a transparent system of registration would be followed and the government would be responsible for every penny spent.

To a question,he said that main system of monsoon has passed and the rivers are coming back to their normal flow position.He hoped that soon the flood waters would recede and the relief activities would get further momentum and the people would be able to return home.

Kaira said that 50,000 tents are being imported and a ban has been imposed on their export as part of the efforts to meet needs of the people of flood-ravaged areas of the country.

He acknowledged that there was dire need of tents for the calamity-affected people and said the Federal and Provincial Governments had called a meeting of the manufacturing organisations to overcome the problem. 

Kaira said the estimates of losses and damage are preliminary and the real situation would become clear when survey is carried out. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has conveyed to the provinces the parameters of the proposed survey so as to make it comprehensive and all-encompassing.

The minister said the extent of damage was beyond imagination and the entire nation will have to be mobilized to meet the challenge.

He said that 1,475 persons have been killed, 2052 injured and 970,520 houses either destroyed or damaged due to floods. The disaster has also destroyed or affected the infrastructure, agriculture, livestock and industry.

The Minister said that 73 helicopters and 912 boats have been deployed to rescue the marooned people and to transport relief goods to the calamity-hit areas. He said so far 7,13,165 persons have been rescued.

He said that 178,635 blankets,153,166 tents and 71,719 tarpals have been distributed among the victims.

He informed the media that the Prime Minister has directed the NHA to expedite work for opening of the closed roads for traffic. 

The minister said that damage caused to National Highway Network in recent floods so far is estimated at more than Rs. 6 billion which can further escalate.

He said Great Trunk Road (N-5),is open for traffic throughout the country even Kot Sabzal- Khairpur Section where flood water is overflowing the road.

Kaira said that National Highway Authority (NHA) was striving to repair and restore the damaged portions of roads and bridges on short term measures so that rescue and relief operation could be expedited.

The minister said that all motorways are open for traffic,while several temporary bridges have been set up for opening of various roads bridges in Khyber Pukhtunkhaw and Gilgit Baltistan.

He informed the media that Pakistan Army,Frontier Works Organization and some other institutions were helping the NHA in repair of the roads.

He said that D.G.Khan-Muzaffargarh Road has been opened for traffic,while Sukkur-Jacobabad-Sibi-Quetta Highway is still not open for traffic and water was flowing at some places.He said that Nowshehra-Chitral road would be opened for traffic within few days.

About health sector,the minister said that plan for vaccination of 80,000 children is in place for prevention of water-borne diseases.

To a question,he said that medicines for 3 million people have been dispatched while medicines for 4 million more persons have been procured which would be handed over within next few days.

He said that doctors of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences have taken over a hospital in Charsadda to treat the patients. Moreover,he said,there was a proposal to hand over one district each to various teaching colleges of medicines and appoint jobless doctors in the flood-hit areas.

The minister said that fighting post-floods diseases was a gigantic task and the government was taking all possible steps in this regard.

He appealed to the media to play its role in creating awareness among the victims of flood about use of clean drinking water.He also appealed to the media that besides criticizing the government performance,which was its right,it should also highlight the performance of various government agencies in rescue and relief operation.

“Only by telecasting the footage of fights over food in the IDPs camps,it should also highlight the positive side.There is need to give hope to the people, as marketing misery would only add to despondency”,said the minister.

He said that several government institutions were working day and night and there was no harm if some footage of their hard work was shown to the viewers.

Kaira said that there was no shortage of resources and the Federal Government was providing all required funds for purchase of medicines.The provinces were also using their resources to mitigate the sufferings of the flood-hit people. 

To a question the Minister disagreed with the impression flood water direction has been diverted to protect the land of some ministers.

He said urged the media and political parties not to enter in blame game and focus on the relief work as people need help.

He said Disaster Management Commission meeting has been convened to devise strategy to meet the challenge presently being faced by the nation.The Minister said that all the Chief Ministers would participate and present their point of view in the meeting.

About the commission proposed by the Mian Nawaz Sharif he said the government has not drooped the idea but it would have to take all the provinces on board.

He further informed that medical teams from Turkey, Indonesia, Afghanistan Jordan have arrived and dispatched to different areas to provide medical assistance to flood affectees.
Replying to a question he said under the 18th Amendment, most of the resources have been transferred to provinces.

Kaira said that federal government was also providing finances to National High Authority and WAPDA for repair of damaged roads and grid stations in the flood-hit areas.

Source: TheNews

Angelina Jolie donates 100,000 dollars to aid Pakistan

PARIS: Hollywood star Angelina Jolie, in Europe to promote her spy thriller "Salt", has handed 100,000 dollars (78,000 euros) to help refugees from Pakistan's floods, UN sources said.

A crowd of 1,000 fans engulfed the 34-year-old actress, who is also a goodwill ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, when she stepped out of a limousine in Paris on Tuesday evening clad in a short shiny number with plunging neckline for the French premiere of the movie.

A UNHCR source attending the gala screening said she had donated the sum to help relieve Pakistan, where aid has been short and slow in coming.

In the film Jolie plays captivating CIA officer Evelyn Salt, who is accused of being a Russian spy and must prove her innocence while on the run.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pakistan Floods: Disaster is the WORST in the UN's history

The United Nations has rated the floods in Pakistan as the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent history with more people affected than the South-East Asian tsunami and the recent earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti combined.

Although the current 1,600 death toll in Pakistan represents a tiny fraction of the estimated 610,000 people killed in the three previous events, some two million more people - 13.8 million – have suffered loses requiring long or short-term help.

Maurizio Giuliano, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said: "This disaster is worse than the tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the Haiti earthquake."

The comparison illustrates the scale of the crisis facing Pakistan as its inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy battles to mitigate the effects of the flooding.

The disaster zone stretches from the Swat Valley in the north, where 600,000 people are in need of help, to Sindh in the south.

Billions of pounds will be needed to rebuild affected areas but western nations have pledged only tens of millions in aid. Radical Islamic groups are jockeying to fill the vacuum left by government incompetence and relative international indifference.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, formerly North-West Frontier Province and scene of a bloody Taliban insurgency, has been devasted by swollen rivers. The steel girder bridge over the Khyali River in Charsadda which built by the British at the height of the Raj is a jagged stump. It was a vital gateway to the region and its loss has hampered the aid effort.

"There are people here who are 80 and who will tell you that they have seen nothing like it in their lives," said Arif Jabbar Khan, leading the Oxfam team in the town. "This was a productive agricultural area with a big middle class who have now lost everything. The effect of that will be enormously destabilizing. There was a riot in town as people demanded food."

Beneath it, the brown waters of the swollen Khyali, three times its normal width, thundered southward over what had been homes and farms.
The problems here are being replicated across Pakistan. Of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's population of 1.7 million, some one million have been made destitute by the flooding. The government has managed to distribute 10,000 food packs in the 10 days since the disaster. They will feed just 80,000 people.

Flood victims stand around homeless, aimless, their clothes covered in sticky red mud. The river thunders on, oblivious.

"The reaction in the west to this crisis has been lukewarm so far," said Mr Khan. "The governments there need to understand what is going on."

Meanwhile Mr Khan must get on with the basics, pouring chlorine into wells to prevent the spread of e-coli and cholera, and organizing payments to families so that they can buy food in Charsadda's still-functioning market.
The nearby city of Peshawar relies on the area for much of its food, and prices are now rocketing in the markets there – as they are along the length of Pakistan.

Still more people are still dying in Pakistan's remote mountainous northern provinces, swept away in the torrent or buried in landslides.

The government in Islamabad has admitted that cannot cope with such a catastrophe, but the international response has been lukewarm.

Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's prime minister, left to deal with the crisis while his president, Asif Ali Zardari, toured Britain and France, said the floods would set Pakistan back years.

Jean-Maurice Ripert, the United Nations special envoy for the disaster, said the scale of funding for Pakistan's recovery could only escalate. He said: "The emergency phase will require hundreds of millions of dollars and the recovery and reconstruction part will require billions of dollars."

Angry survivors have attacked government officials in flood-hit areas. The government's fear of a backlash is believed to be behind the blocking of two independent TV channels, Geo and Ary, which have been critical of President Asif Ali Zardari for going ahead with a European tour as large parts of his country suffered inundation.

Source: Telegraph

Pakistan Floods Worsen, But Locals Resist Evacuation

As the flood waters in Pakistan continue to inundate large swaths of the country, some locals in areas at risk of the next wave of floods are reluctant to move to safer ground.

“We will not leave our possessions or our cattle to go to some camp. We need to stay here and protect our water buffalo, otherwise how will we live once the waters recede?” said Jamal Ahmed from Punjab Province, according to Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a news service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Stephanie Bunker, a spokeswoman for OCHA, told The Epoch Times that it is “extremely common for people in general to be unwilling to move, even when faced with possible disaster.”

The floods covering parts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces are spreading and are expected to become severe in the neighboring Sindh Province in a short while, Bunker said. Parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and federally administered tribal areas have also been moderately affected, she added.

OCHA reported Tuesday that the banks of the Indus River have breached in at least seven districts of Punjab, where 46 deaths have been confirmed so far. Over 1,100 people are estimated to have died in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Over 25,000 houses in Punjab have been destroyed, according to Reuters. In Nowshera, Charsadda, Mardan, and Peshawar, 80,000 homes have been destroyed, reported the World Food Program.

Food, clean drinking water, and medical services are needed in areas affected by the floods. There are also concerns about the spread of water-borne diseases.

According to ReliefWeb, these are the “worst floods to hit Pakistan since 1929,” and at least one million people are in need of emergency assistance.

Punjab resident Zahida Khatoon, however, is still determined not to leave her home. In keeping with her local culture, she has never spent a night outside her home and feels uncomfortable staying with strangers.

“Even death may be better than camp life for me,” she told IRIN. “On TV I have seen dozens of men and women lying in one space.”

Others are refusing to stay in the camps because they think conditions there are bad and people are not respected, social worker Khadim Muhamad told IRIN.

According to IRIN, local authorities may use force if residents continue to refuse to move.

“We will begin forced evacuations if necessary,” Adnan Khan, a spokesperson for the provincial disaster management authority, told IRIN.

The Express Tribune reported that the Sukkur district administration said it may cut off gas and power supply to force residents to move. OCHA could not confirm this, Bunker said. Approximately 350,000 people have evacuated from low lying areas in Sindh, she said.

Source: The Epoch Times 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

6 million flood victims need aid to survive - UN ready to call for help

The United Nations is launching an appeal to help 13.8 million people hit by one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters after floods paralysed parts of Pakistan and fanned fears of disease.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the disaster had eclipsed the scale of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan and the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti put together.
About 1.5 million people have been evacuated in the south and 1.5 million hectares of valuable farmland destroyed in central Punjab province while the worst hit has been the northwest, already struggling with Taliban violence.
“We will soon issue an... appeal for several hundred million dollars to respond to immediate needs,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon announced, stressing that medium- and long-term assistance “will be a major and protracted task.”
UN special envoy Jean-Maurice Ripert said hundreds of millions of dollars would be needed to address the urgent humanitarian needs and billions for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructure and livelihoods.
Parts of the northwestern Swat valley were still cut off Tuesday by road as were parts of the country’s breadbasket in Punjab and Sindh.
“This is a major disaster of enormous magnitude,” said UN emergency relief coordinator John Holmes, who is to launch the appeal in New York on Wednesday along with Pakistani officials for what is likely to be one of the biggest UN relief efforts in history.
UN officials were at pains to stress that aid would focus on six million people who need direct humanitarian assistance in order to survive.
Spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said the figure of 14 million was a broader measure given by Pakistani authorities that included the direct and indirect impact, extending from the homeless to longer-term damage such as crop losses.
She told AFP that the number of victims targeted by the appeal had yet to be finalised.
Byrs said about five million people were targeted by aid in the Indian Ocean tsunami, while the estimated 300,000 homes destroyed in Pakistan rivalled the numbers seen in Haiti’s devastating quake.

Religious workers win thanks from flood victims

ISA KHEL: Pakistani religious charities have been quick to step in to help after this month's devastating floods, winning hearts and minds as frustration with the US-backed government grows.

The worst floods in 80 years have killed more than 1,600 people and left two million homeless along a broad swathe of the Indus river basin, from the north of the country to the south.
The army was quick to respond with rescue efforts, saving many lives as the torrent struck. The government, overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, has been blasted as ineffective.
But as the authorities and international aid agencies marshal supplies and staff, it is often nimble Islamic charity workers who are first to arrive to help people pick up their lives as the worst of the surge begins to ebb.
They may not bring huge resources to bear but they establish a presence, with at least a canvas awning beside a road, with a banner appealing for donations and a table covered with bottles and jars of basic medicine.
“They were the first to come with tractors and vans to evacuate our people,” said Shafaatullah Khan who lives in a village near the Indus in Punjab province. “If they hadn't been many people would have died. They worked day and night to get people out and provide cooked food and water.”
Nearby, workers of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Islamic charity hovered around four huge pots, preparing food over a smoky fire while four women clad in burqas sat at a charity medical post.
The JuD is the charity arm of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group.
The LeT was behind a bloody attack on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 shortly after which the JuD was put on a UN blacklist for links to terrorism.
But such connections mean nothing to most Pakistanis.
“Everyone has a good impression of them,” land owner Mohammad Ali Khan said of the religious charity workers.
“They do their part,” Khan said in the village of Isa Khel, as diesel pumps clattered nearby, trying to suck water out of a row of shops over a muddy road and into water-logged fields.
This is not the first time they have mounted a high-profile response to a natural disaster in Pakistan.
In 2005, they established a reputation as a tireless relief group by helping many thousands of survivors after an earthquake struck the north of the country, killing 73,000 people. They have also helped people displaced by fighting against militants.
Many flood victims criticise the authorities for what they see as their failure to bring help quickly.
The support the religious workers gain from their relief work could further undermine confidence in a government already under suspicion for its alliance with the United States in the global campaign against militancy.
Many Pakistanis are deeply suspicious of the United States, largely because of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which are seen as attacks on Islam.
But the JuD dismisses any suggestion it is trying to win over the population to the cause of Islam.
“We don't have any political agenda,” said JuD spokesman, Yahya Mujahid, who declined to comment on links to LeT.
A squat, burly man with a thick black beard flowing half-way down his chest, Mujahid said his group would contest elections if it wanted to get involved in politics.
“Our work is totally humanitarian,” he said, adding that it helped everyone, regardless of religion.
Another JuD official said a government crackdown on the group's finances had created problems but Mujahid said hostility towards his group bolstered its standing in the eyes of many: “The propaganda against us actually works in our favour.”
Villagers in the saturated flood plains along the Indus are simply thankful for whatever help they get.
“For us they're angels,” retired policeman Gul Mohammad Khan said of the relief workers.
“We don't care who they are or what their agenda is. We were in crisis and they were the first to help. That's it.

Source: Dawn News

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pakistani Youngster Nominated for Global Ambassador

Bringing good news for his country at such a grim time, Waqas Nazar Tiwana from Khushab District has been nominated for the ‘Global Young Leaders Award.’ 

He is in top 10 amongst 50 young people selected from 120 countries from all over the world to receive the prestigious award and will also be conferred upon the title of ‘Global Ambassador.’ Waqas, who is also the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence of Youth Parliament of Pakistan, is the first Pakistani youth who has been nominated for this award. He is scheduled to receive the award at a ceremony in Singapore next week and will also be attending the opening ceremony of the International Youth Olympics on a special invitation from Singapore government. 

The award has been conferred to him and other 50 youth from around the world by Harvard Graduates International Presidential Scholars Council. During his stay in Singapore, Waqas Tiwana is expected to visit the Presidential Palace ‘The Istana’ and meet the Singaporean president.

While talking to media persons, Waqas said that he was apprised of this achievement at a time when he had just lost six of his fellow youth parliamentarians in the Margalla plane crash. “I wish my friends were with me in this moment of celebration.” He dedicated his award to the youth of Pakistan especially to the six Youth Parliament martyrs.

Waqas Tiwana is a graduate of Kingston University London, where he was a scholarship holder and a representative of the student body. He also serves as their Scholar Ambassador for South Asia and Middle East, specifically Pakistan. He has also been recently invited by the Under-Secretary General and Chief of Education Outreach of United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) to attend the Global Model UN Summit in Malaysia this month to represent Pakistan.

Waqas Nazar Tiwana belongs to Khushab District of Punjab Province, which he also represents in 48-member house of Youth Parliament of Pakistan. Waqas has been an active social worker and youth activist and is well known for his vision of youth empowerment and youth’s involvement in decision making at national level. He is considered a qualified trainer, an enthusiastic leader, and a good diplomat, having a very diverse and active social circle.

He has also been a part of the Pakistani delegation at Pakistan-India students dialogue and has attended many youth and leadership activities both locally and internationally including the Young Leaders Conference 2008, UN Youth Annual Conference 2009, strategy into practice UK and United Nations (UN) conference on Water, Conflict and Development at London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He was also participated in the Pakistan Young Leaders Conference 2010.