New Delhi: After dithering for a week, Pakistan on Friday accepted Indian aid of USD five million for flood victims, a decision welcomed by New Delhi which has offered more help to that country to handle the devastation caused by the deluge.
The acceptance of the aid was announced by Pakistan Foreign Minister S M Qureshi on the sidelines of the special session of the General Assembly on Pakistan at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Reacting to the development, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said the acceptance was conveyed by Qureshi and, "We welcome the decision of Pakistan to accept the aid offer."
He described the assistance as goodwill gesture made to express solidarity with the people of Pakistan, who have been hit by the worst floods in 80 years.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called up his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani yesterday and said India was willing to provide more assistance in handling flood relief, Prakash said. Nearly one-fifth of Pakistan is reported to be badly hit by the devastating floods.
Over 1,700 people have died and the UN says more than 6,50,000 people are without basic shelter while six million desperately need emergency aid. Last week, Minister of External Affairs S M Krishna had called his Pakistani counterpart and offered USD 5 million in aid for flood relief work.
With Pakistan dilly-dallying on taking Indian aid for flood relief, the US had yesterday said politics should have no role in disaster response and it "expects" Islamabad to accept the assistance.
"We believe India and Pakistan share a common destiny and also that it was in common interest of both our countries to work together for having cordial and cooperative relations," Prakash said. Yesterday, in his telephonic conversation, the Prime Minister had said India was willing to do more in this "hour of need", the spokesman said.
Qureshi, who is in New York to attend a special meeting of the United Nations on flood situation in his country, had said, "I can share with you that the Government of Pakistan has agreed to accept the Indian offer (of USD 5 million aid)." Qureshi thanked Singh, his government and Krishna for this "very positive" gesture of extending aid and said it was highly appreciated by Pakistan. PTI