Posted by: Administrator | 22 September, 2006

President at World Economic Forum 2006

Mr. Klaus Schwab the Executive Chairman of World Economic Forum and all the distinguished audience, ladies and gentlemen, it is a unique privilege for me to be here and to be addressing such an august gathering for the second time. I was here in 2004 and did address such a gathering then. I feel this is a forum which is so unique that Pakistan ought to be here to project whatever we are doing as a success story and to draw attention to itself and may be gain economically and politically from it. So it is indeed my unique privilege to be here.

The subject given to me is “The Leadership is the Wake of Natural Disaster”. The basic ingredient of a leader I personally feel is that he should never panic, should never get in tension, whatever the problems, whatever the circumstances. This is the basic ingredient of leadership in all circumstances facing any disaster, facing any challenge. But however I would confine myself to leadership in the wake of natural disasters.

The first comment I would like to make is that no nation in the world I think and no leader in the world can be expected to be fully prepared to meet major natural disasters and no leader can be expected to act spontaneously to meet such a challenge. Having said that, I would straight come to my some points on the responsibility of a leader in the wake of a natural disaster, a major natural disaster. Firstly he must take stock of the situation, assess the situation, assess the damage very calmly, very confidently and chart a course of action for himself without getting into panic, without getting into under tension. The second point I want to make on responsibility of a leader is to create an implementation organisation. Thirdly, select the right leaders to run that implementation organisation. Fourthly, formulate a strategy, an overarching strategy for meeting the challenge of that disaster. Than comes the important aspect of generating and placing adequate resources at the disposal of the organisations that have been set to meet this challenge, and finally monitoring the effects that are being achieved towards the strategy that has been enunciated. I think these are the broad steps, but I would like to come into practical realities as this was the theoretical part of it, and in the practical realities

I would obviously confine myself to the earthquake that we have suffered in Pakistan, of a massive scale. Massive to the extent that we had 73,000 causalities. This involves about 28,000 sq km area and I believe if one was to compare this to Switzerland I think it comes to two third or three fourth of Switzerland. There are about 3.5 million people affected. Four hundred to five hundred thousand houses have been destroyed. Education and medical centres or institutions have collapsed. Government institutions have also collapsed. This is the challenge that we face to rebuild and I said that to convert this challenge into an opportunity. I would like to now confine myself what we did and what I did, based on the theory that I just explained.

First of all the leader has to take stock and assess the situation, but within this one element that is essential is that the leader must act immediately for the sake of people, to show solidarity with the people, to infuse confidence and hope in the people. It may be just a flag showing, it may merely be optics but I think it is extremely important that the leader must not sit back while he is assessing and evaluating the situation. He must reach out to the people immediately and I personally did that. I immediately on the next day touched six points all over the area and saw for myself and gave some solace to the people that I am with them and we will meet the challenge and we will convert their lives to a better life in the future. I think this went a long way in giving hope to the people.

Strategising or assessing the situation I visualised four stages and I launched a President’s Reconstruction Initiative and in this we created two organisations. The four stages involved were rescue which lasted for a month, relief operation which is going on and will continue for another a year or two. Than is the main issue of reconstruction, reconstruction of the houses, reconstruction of the medical and educational institutions and reconstruction of government structure.

Lastly it is rehabilitation. I divided this into two and placed them under two organisations. The Federal Relief Commissioner looking after rescue and relief operations and an Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority looking after reconstruction and rehabilitation because they are two different aspects which could easily become partmented 2 under these two organisations. I selected the right leaders of course and placed them in charge of both. May I say as far as rescue is concerned we needed outside assistance because we didn’t have the technical know how and we asked for it and we got it, I must say. On the relief side we laid priority to medical assistance which was immediately required. The people were suffering with all kinds of injuries and followed by that or with that simultaneously food and water and provision of shelter before the onset of winters. Having decided this, another issue was inaccessibility of that area. This area was inaccessible mountainous area, few roads going inside and out of these few roads almost no roads going to the people who were living in the mountains. So therefore we thought of transportation and communication, how to reach out? First of all making of roads and acquiring the heli-lift capability, an aerial capability to deliver the relief goods to the people in inaccessible areas. One major decision that we took, which contributed in a very major way to alleviate the problem with the people, which we realized after two to three weeks was that the area was totally demonetized. People didn’t have a single penny in their pockets. People who were well off, their businesses collapsed with no money left in their pockets. People being treated in hospitals didn’t have money to go back to their place. So therefore we immediately thought let us monetize the area. Therefore we decided to give a certain amount of money to next of the kin or any one who has died, give a certain amount of money who is an amputee, a certain amount of money to any one who has lost a house and we did that through an organization in a very big and fast way.

 Within a short period of two months we monetized the area to an extent that business activity got generated, economic activity got generated and people started reconstructing their lost houses themselves to a large extent so this was a great action we took, we paid a lot of dividends then we came on to the strategy of reconstruction, how do we go about reconstructing houses, education and health facilities and government structure, we saw international structures, we saw international practices of Tsunami, Katrina etc discussed everything, I even discussed these matters with ex President Clinton and we saw that as far as housing is concerned we ought to follow an owner driven strategy, we could not impose a house, a modern house like a lot of people of the world are donating such as a lady from Sweden is kind enough to send us 1,000 wooden cabins but that is not the kind of house we would like to impose on people who have different ways of living and who are in the mountains so therefore we thought of owner driven strategy i.e. we give cash to the individuals, every individual, a reasonably good amount, let him build his house according to his environment but also give him guidance on how to make the house earthquake proof and also if the person is illiterate, send people volunteers and I involved the army into it. Reach out to the people and guide them how to make that house earthquake proof in accordance with the written script which is evolved by certain qualified eminent architects of Pakistan.

In addition to all this, we gave an incentive, a cash incentive to anyone who is following our guidance on making the house earthquake proof. This was the owner driven strategy for houses. As far as schooling or educational facilities and health are concerned, we thought we will follow a need base strategy that is these facilities which were limited in these remote areas in past. Lets give them much more than what they have, lets give them what they ought to be having so this is where I thought the challenge can be converted into opportunity, therefore we created, we went down, we exactly evaluated what is required in its totality primary, secondary, middle and secondary colleges and universities. Basic Health Units and hospitals at sub district levels and district levels.

On the rehabilitation side, we decided we ought to move very fast in support of destitute women especially and girls, orphan children and injured especially disabled amputees. Since there are all kinds of anti social element to fight against we evolved the strategy of government taking upon it self to look after destitute, orphans and disables. We decided not to hand over orphans to anybody even if anybody wants to adopt them because we do not know the credentials of anybody who was adopting a child. So government as a strategy took over responsibility of destitute women and orphans. That was the overall strategy we evolved and we also ensured transparency and accountability in that, we have created a website and all this data on district basis, sub district basis, village basis requirement of each, accommodations, schooling education and health is on that. Anyone who wants to donate to it, sponsoring and donation of any facilities, the person name or the organization’s name comes against exactly where what anyone is donating is located. If individual wants to see he could see it on ground that is the kind of transparency and 3 accountability we are going for. Anyone sitting anywhere in the world can reach out to the website and see for himself.

Now all this was good but one of the major constraints was generating resources, as we did not have the resources to meet this challenge so therefore I thought I must call a Donors Conference. I can proudly say with a lot of gratitude that 85 countries were represented at the Donors Conference. Damage Assessment with consensus by United Nation Organization, World Bank, Asia Development Bank and Government of Pakistan, was calculated to a total of $5.2 billion. I may express my gratitude to entire world community for coming forward and pledging $6.2 billion? Therefore resources did get generated.

So therefore Ladies and Gentlemen we assessed the problem, we strategiesed, we created organizations, we generated the resources and now we have to implement. We have successfully implemented relief part, we need to successfully implement reconstruction and rehabilitation and this I will keep on monitoring as the last part of my responsibility. As a leader I must know the effect, desire keep getting created at various time and various places and I will keep monitoring that and going down myself to make sure that these are being done.

Thank you very much for very patient hearing.


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