Posted by: Administrator | 29 August, 2006

President Address to the Nation

12 Oct 2005
My Dear Pakistani Brothers and Sisters,
Pakistan today is faced with a massive calamity. An earthquake of 7.6 magnitude and the resultant devastation is the worst tragedy in Pakistan’s history. As a result of this, nearly 23,000 have been killed and some 50,000 people are wounded. Millions of people have become homeless. Balakot and Muzaffarabad cities are the worst affected areas. Communication infrastructure, roads, power, water and telephone system all have been  destroyed.  This tragedy is much bigger than the capacity and capability of the government as a whole. We have to face this challenge. In this connection, I pray for all those who lost their lives in this tragedy. This is the blessed month of Ramadan. I therefore appeal to the nation to offer special prayers on Friday for the afflicted families that Allah Almighty may grant them courage to bear the loss.

And also pray, in these trying times, that Allay Almighty may guide the government and
the whole nation to overcome this calamity in an effective manner.
My dear countrymen, we have to face this catastrophe with courage, confidence and unity.
We have to confront this calamity as a courageous nation and a confident government. We
should not be cowed down by this disaster. We have to face it with determination and
transform this catastrophe into betterment of the people.
Those who died cannot come back, but it is in our hands to work for the better future of
the affected areas and their people. And, Inshallah, we will succeed.
I know it is the people of these affected areas who are facing all the problems and we have
to mitigate their sufferings.
I would like to say here that in such a situation, criticising others and indulging in mudslinging
is a sign of defeat and helplessness.
Pakistan, its people and the government are those who cannot be defeated. Therefore we
have to face this tragedy with courage, patience, determination and confidence.
Therefore, it has to be reflected in our media and in our actions that we are a confident
nation and facing this problem courageously.
I would like to, first of all, pay tributes to the people. I don’t have words to praise their
passion, determination, sympathy and solidarity that they have showed. The entire nation
has emerged as one.
Then, I would like to pay tributes to the army, specially the engineers and doctors who
acted promptly to restore the communication network and treated the wounded.
I would also like to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions by the NGOs, specially
the Edhi Trust, who immediately started the relief work.
I pay tributes to all the political parties, including the opposition, for their response and
attitude.
I would also like to express Pakistan’s gratitude for all the assistance that we are getting
from the international community. We have been given a lot of donations. We have been
assisted in relief and rescue operations and several medical teams and field hospitals have
been established by various countries.
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May I specifically mention the names of Turkey, UAE, the United States, the U.K, Saudi
Arabia, China, Germany, Russia, France, Japan, Switzerland, Spain, Iran, Azerbaijan,
Hungary and Bangladesh.
May I also say that Indian Prime Minister was very kind to ring me up and offered all
possible assistance. We express our gratitude to him and we have accepted Indian aid in
certain form and inform them.
I would also like to mention the number of telephone calls and the number of letters that I
have received from various heads of state. We express our deepest gratitude for all your
words of kindness, words of sympathy in our hour of need. Thank you very much.
My brothers and sisters,
Lets see where the problem lies and how it has to be dealt with. This tragedy has occurred
in two regions, especially in the Azad Kashmir region, Muzaffarabad, Bagh and Rawalakot
and beyond Muzaffarabad, in Neelam river valley and Jehlum river valley.
Secondly, in the Hazara division in the North-West Frontier Province. Here an access is
going from Mansehra towards Balakot and Kaghan. There has been lot of damage in these
areas. And the second access is Batal, Shangla and Batgram areas. In this area specially,
the damage and the loss is maximum.
Besides, a building collapsed in Islamabad and there is some damage in Lahore.
It is very important to understand what is the magnitude and the kind of damage.
First, all the communication infrastructure and roads have been destroyed. There are two
access roads to Muzaffarabad – one from Murree and the other from Abbottabad,
Mansehra. Both roads had been destroyed and no traffic was possible on these roads. And
beyond Muzaffarabad, roads to Neelam and Jehlum river valleys are closed.
Apart from roads, there are many villages which are located away from these roads in
valleys and in the mountains. These are not accessible even in the normal circumstances.
There has been a lot of damage in those areas. And we don’t have any precise estimate of
losses there.
As the roads were closed, helicopters were the only means to access these areas and
villages where roads are totally non-existent.
And Pakistan army does not have enough helicopters to deal with the situation.
As far as the army is concerned, it was already present in Azad Kashmir, in Muzaffarabad,
Bagh and Rawalakot. But they themselves suffered by the quake. Some 450 army men
were martyred and nearly 700 wounded. So they were also not in a position to help
others. There is no army in the area of Mansehra. Fresh troops had to be sent there.
I would like to say here that no country in the world is prepared to face catastrophe of this
magnitude. It has to react and efforts are to react and react quickly and help the people.
So this was the magnitude and the kind of the disaster we faced.
Now we look at the response. What we have to do, what we are doing and what we need
to do in future.
In my view, our response to this tragedy is in two phases. Immediate Response – relief
and rescue of the people – and second is the Longer-term (response) – rehabilitation and
reconstruction.
The government has to take action in these two phases.
3
First of all, take the immediate response – what we did immediately and what we have to
do. In the first 8 to 12 hours, we were only getting information and we did not have an
idea of the magnitude of the destruction.
So, immediately we reacted to the collapse of a building in Islamabad. And I would like to
pay tributes to the public, CDA, army and civil organizations for their swift response who
put their lives at stake to save others. Later the British rescue team joined these efforts
and they have shown excellent performance and I would also like to pay tributes to them.
Now we come to the Azad Kashmir, Mansehra and the adjoining areas.
First of all, the most important task was to clear the roads. Here, I would like to say that
within 48 hours, the six engineer’s battalions opened up Murree-Muzaffarabad and
Abbottabad-Mansehra roads. Now even heavy transport can ply on these roads. I also pay
tributes to these engineers.
Side by side, the second important operation to be taken immediately was to rescue
people, specially in Muzaffarabad and Balakot areas, who were buried under the rubble
and bury those who were killed and treatment and evacuation of those who survived or
wounded.
I know, there was a delay in it but it was due to the fact that roads were blocked, there
was no army and the administration itself was among the victims and, therefore, it took a
while to reach these areas.
After clearing roads, the immediate task was to evacuate the survivors from under the
wreckage and bury those who were killed. I would like to say that there had been some
delay as, because of lack of helicopters and dilapidated roads, it was impossible for the
army to reach there.
But now, the rescue and relief activities are in full swing as roads are now opened and
besides our army helicopters we have also got more helicopters, specially Chinooks and
Black Hawks helicopters from the United States.
Here, I would like to say that within 72 hours (three days), the entire army has been
mobilized. A full division from Gujranwala has been moved to Mansehra, after traveling
300 miles, and set up its divisional headquarters there. One brigade has been deployed in
Mansehra, one brigade has been dispatched to Batgram and two brigades are currently
present at Balakot.
A company – 100 to 150 army troops – is positioned at every 15 to 20 kilometers on the
road. It will cover either side of the road into mountains and villages and carry out relief
and rescue operation.
In Muzaffarabad area, a divisional headquarters under the command of a major general
has been established in Murree and a second division has been deployed in Rawalakot from
Mangla. They also had to travel hundreds of miles to reach there.
The army is there now and they have started the rescue and relief operation. This action
has been taken within 72 hours of the tragedy.
For me, it is not a slow movement but we have rather acted very promptly. People did
suffer in the first one or two days for which we, myself, the entire nation, the army, the
people and the government are sad about it.
But now as the roads are opened, army has reached there and we have plenty of
helicopters. I assure you the rescue operations will be conducted in a more effective
manner.
These were the main areas. But there are other villages in remote areas and in the
mountains and we are sending helicopters to assess the damage.
4
In this regard, we have arranged for the satellite photographs, which may have been
received by now. Through these satellite photos we want to analyze the extent of damage
in small remote areas so that we can access them and provide help.
Now, the most important goods to be transported are tents and blankets as specially in the
areas of Muzaffarabad and Balakot, people have no shelter. There has been delay here
also but again as I said earlier, roads were blocked and helicopters were scarce.
As the roads are opened, we have more helicopters and PAF’s C-130 are also flying, and I
am confident that tents and blankets are now reaching the people in large quantity.
I would like to mention here, that tents in Pakistan are manufactured in a very small
number and there is a shortage of tents all across the country and we are importing them.
This relief was immediately needed.
Besides, we had to send medical aid as it was also very important. I pay tributes to all
doctors, including army and foreign doctors.
When I visited Muzaffarabad within the first 24 hours, a Turkish medical team was already
there. There were also civilians doctors from all over the country, some of whom reached
there within 48 hours and I pay tributes to all of them.
When I went to Muzaffarabad, Rawalakot, Bagh in the first 24 hours, nearly 100 operations
had already been carried out on the field and nearly 1000 people had been evacuated to
hospitals.
Medicines from all over the world are reaching Chaklala base, where they are being sorted
out and sent to the affected areas by roads and helicopters.
Whereas there were many doctors, the problem was that there was no arrangement for
surgery in forward areas. So we sent mobile surgical teams, fields hospitals in Mansehra
area and Muzaffarabad so that medical treatment is immediately provided to the injured
on the spot.
Those requiring surgery are being brought to the field hospitals while more critically
wounded are being shifted to hospitals by air and roads.
There is also a need to provide foodstuffs in these areas which is being done. Food packets
containing atta, pulses, rice, ghee, tealeaf, milk powder and sugar are being prepared and
distributed among the affectees. There has been a delay in this regard but it was due to
time consumed in preparing these packets and delivering them in the affected areas.
I would like to pay tributes to the Utility Store departments for working day and night to
prepare these packages.
I would again like to appreciate public as thousands of people and organizations are
working to arrange these relief goods and deliver them to the affected people.
For all these activities, we are in dire need of financial aid. We have set up a President’s
Earthquake Relief Fund. I appeal to the nation to generously contribute to this fund. I
would specially appeal to the business community, traders and industrialists. Allah
Almighty has given you plenty and now is the time for you people to make maximum
contribution to help the people in these affected areas.
I appeal to the international community to donate funds, give financial assistance and
donate to President’s relief fund. I can assure you that this relief fund will be utilized in the
most transparent manner for the benefit and rehabilitation of the areas affected by this
earthquake.
I assure the nation that whatever donations you contribute, these will be maintained by
the Fund in a very transparent manner.
5
The amount collected by the fund would be announced daily in 9.00 p.m. news bulletin and
major donors would be identified. The nation will be given full details of the account of the
fund and I promise to the nation total transparency in managing this fund.
There has been a tremendous enthusiasm shown by the public, the government, army,
NGOs, Edhi Trust, Red Crescent and many other NGOs in this entire relief operation. And
there have been many volunteer groups working in the affected areas.
But, some of these efforts would go waste if we did not carry out this entire activity in an
organized and orderly manner.
So in my view an overall organization is imperative for the entire rescue and relief efforts.
Such an organization has been established at the Prime Minister Secretariat where Major
General Farooq has been appointed as the Federal Relief Commissioner.
All representatives looking after the entire assistance, coming from both within the country
and abroad, had been placed under him.
Besides, provincial relief commissioners have been established in the four provinces. I
have directed them to publicize their telephone contacts, fax and e-mail addresses through
newspapers and in the electronic media so that all people, NGOs and volunteers could
contact them first so that they should be guided about the specific needs of different
areas.
This is very important that we know and operate through these points men in all the
provinces and at the center. And those who are going to Muzaffarabad or Mansehra should
first contact army headquarters and they have been directed to help and guide you to the
affected areas.
As you are working so hard and showing great sympathy, I appeal to all volunteers that
there is a need of some organization in all these efforts to achieve optimum results.
I would like to mention stage two here. ‘Inshallah’ now this activity will be carried out in an
effective and organized manner but in my view we will be needing maximum financial
inputs for the rehabilitation and reconstruction.
The President’s Relief Fund and the government’s financial support would be fully utilized
for this purpose. We have announced compensation of Rs. 100,000 for each martyr and
Rs. 50,000 each for the wounded.
I hope provinces, district administration and the army will ensure that the compensation
reaches the most deserving people. Then, we have to clear debris in the areas of Balakot,
Muzaffarabad and other affected areas which in my view is a gigantic effort. This will follow
help in reconstruction of houses in these areas, specially for those poor people who live in
remote areas. This may take months and years but I am very confident that we have the

resources that we will use to change this calamity into betterment of the people.

The martyrs cannot come back and we will pray for them but it is in our hands to work for

the betterment of their families and those who survived. Inshallah, we will do this.

In the end, I assure all the affected people that I will always stand by them in their hour of

need and trial and will not sit in peace until I change this critical and difficult time into a

better future for you. Please support me. May Allah be with all of us.

Pakistan Paindabad.

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