Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi criticises media
By Baqir Sajjad Syed
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi took a potshot at the media on Monday expressing his horror over the fact that transparency in aid utilisation had become such an issue domestically.
“Everyone wants transparent use of the assistance. There can be no two views. But it is more under debate over here than it is with the international community,” said Mr Qureshi at a press briefing here.
The world, unlike the local media which is agitating over the transparency issue, realises the challenge facing the country and is sympathetic, he claimed. He also cautioned the media against being too critical of the government and its agencies.
“If you yourself raise doubts about your government and its agencies, you would weaken the world confidence.”
The foreign minister, who is scheduled to attend a UN plenary session on floods in Pakistan on Thursday (Aug 19), was responding to allegations that the flow of international aid to the country had been slow because of the world’s lack of confidence in the government over the fair and transparent use of aid.
The UN’s plenary session is being held to express solidarity and support with the country devastated by the worst flooding in its history.
The international aid has been scant. The $460 million appeal the UN launched a week ago has been barely 35 per cent covered. Besides, there is hardly anyone except for friends like Iran and Turkey, who are ready to assist Pakistan directly, the rest are channelling their aid through UN agencies, Red Cross and international NGOs.
The government has recently agreed to a demand by opposition for setting up an independent commission for overseeing the disbursement of funds as well as distribution of relief goods.
Mr Qureshi said: “We have no hesitation whatsoever to make things accountable and transparent.”
MUSLIM COUNTRIES: The assistance from Muslim countries has been particularly inadequate making the international relief efforts look further poor.
Though Mr Qureshi tried to downplay this impression by speaking about the aid given by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, UAE, Jordan and a couple of other countries, he conceded that he had written to each and every foreign minister of Muslim countries appealing for help.
The minister said he had requested the OIC secretariat to convene a special session of the organisation to discuss the flood situation.
INDIA: Asked about India’s $5 million offer for assistance, he said there were sensitivities involved in the issue because of “a different nature of relationship with it.”
He, nevertheless, kept the possibility of accepting Indian offer open.