| Updated at: 0302 PST, Friday, November 19, 2010|
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States has called for greater American public support for his country’s flood victims as he sought to raise awareness about human sufferings the worst natural disaster inflicted on around 20 million Pakistanis.
Ambassador Husain Haqqani faulted coverage of the tragedy in the American media, a factor which partly contributed to a tepid initial response to the catastrophe.
He pointed out that the media stories ignored the plight of flood victims and instead focused unduly on political and security implications of the floods that triggered an epic humanitarian crisis.
Haqqani was making an impassioned appeal to back recovery efforts for flood victims to a gathering of American citizens, Congressional staffers and Pakistani-Americans at an event the ambassador and his wife, MNA Farahnaz Ispahani, hosted at their residence.
“One fifth of Pakistan, an area of the size of Italy, an area of the size of the entire east coast of the United States all the way from Maine to Florida, was inundated...two large rivers basically merged into each other...ten years of rainfall occured in a space of seven days in the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa province.
“When 20 million people are in trouble the first priority is saving lives, making sure that there are no waterborne diseases (breakout), no epidemics and making sure that immunization of children remains on track and pregnant and lactating mothers in relief camps get the support they need and the people are enabled to return to their farms and homes,” he stated as a slideshow of images illustrated the extent of human suffering and infrastructure losses.
The international effort, where the United States has been clearly in the lead in providing relief assistance, has fallen short partly because governments alone cannot help assist the victims of such major tragedies.
The ambassador appreciated the fact that the U.S. government has allocated $ 493 million towards flood relief recovery and is in the process of directing $ 500 million from Kerry-Lugar funds, approved by Congress last year.
But, he underlined, Pakistani flood victims would still need a lot of support from individual donors and private charitable giving in the United States.