Posted by: Administrator | 22 October, 2006

President Address to the Nation 18 October 2005

18 October 2005

My dear Pakistani brothers and sisters, I addressed you a week ago and you must be wondering that why I need to address you again. In my view there are three reasons, First as also shown by the media, relief efforts are going on with full pace and with great enthusiasm and the entire nation is involved in it. However, in my view with some coordination these relief efforts could be further improved. Secondly, during my last address I had vowed to change this challenge into improvement and success. To accomplish this, I will have to take everybody along. In this regard, my involvement will always be there and I will continue to keep you informed with the developments. Thirdly, I wanted to share my planning, thinking and vision with you. First of all, I salute the entire nation for their unity and their spirited response to the challenge and to help the affected people.

Everybody is contributing in their own way and I do not have words to pay my gratitude to them. Initially there were some problems due to the gap in supply and demand because it was a massive catastrophe that rendered millions of people shelter less. Now the things are improving and the supply-demand gap is also reducing with the help from abroad and the general public. ‘Inshallah’, the conditions will continue to improve.

However, we specifically need tents and blankets and in this regard we are requesting the entire international community to provide us tents and blankets. The army has already given its entire stock of tents to the relief efforts. This was the kind of response and enthusiasm, I wanted to acknowledge and pay my tributes to. Now I come to some of the problems I see in the coordination of ongoing relief efforts. First of all, we need to understand that the entire relief efforts are being undertaken at two levels.

One is the formal channel that involves government efforts and external assistance involving both the donor agencies, some 32 friendly countries and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs). All these efforts are coming through a formal channel under which the relief goods arrive at Chaklala base or Dhamial camp, where they are sorted out and dispatched to six nodal points through transport helicopters for their onward delivery to the affected people.

The second level is the informal channel that involves the entire nation and volunteer groups. Millions of people are sending relief goods’ trucks to the affected areas and doctors are offering voluntary services. I pay my tributes to them. But we need coordination in our efforts at the informal level. Due to lack of coordination, there was an unequal distribution of relief goods, some areas getting more than the others. Likewise in some sectors, there were too many doctors at one place and very few at the others.

The things can be further improved through proper coordination. Millions of people were trying to contact these areas by telephone and coordinated efforts can greatly improve the situation and help you reach the right people and the right place. I would like to share with you how we can improve the overall relief efforts through proper coordination. We have to set up a simple and comprehensive network of organizations and 2 provide tele-communication links so that people could contact the right person for delivery of relief goods. Now I would like to explain in detail this network to coordinate relief efforts.

As you know, at the federal level, we have appointed Major General Muhammad Farooq Khan as Federal Relief Commissioner at the Prime Minister Secretariat and operating under the Prime Minister. I also continue to interact with him. Initially, due to lack of telephones, there were some problems to cope with the hundreds and thousands of telephone calls. Now a 12-member panel has been established who will work round the clock to receive your calls and guide you. All their telephone numbers are being advertised for the general public.

Now we come to the implementation level, how to execute, what is happening on the field, in Mansehra and in Azad Kashmir. First of all, you should all know that there are six points, three each in Mansehra and in Azad Kashmir, which you must remember and where the relief efforts are needed.

In the NWFP, the three nodal points are in Mansehra, Balakot and Batgram while in Azad Kashmir; these are in Muzaffarabad as the center along with Bagh and Rawlakot. A network of army is already on the ground. At the top level are the three divisions of the army troops. One division is headquartered at Mansehra under the command of Major General Shakeel; the second is at Muzaffarabad under the command of Major General Khalid; and third is headquartered at Bagh under the command of Major General Qasim.

First take Mansehra. There are six brigades, comprising some 15,000 to 20,000 troops working under Major General Shakeel. Each brigade comprises three to four thousand troops. These six brigades have been deployed in Mansehra, Balakot, Batal, Batgram, Shinkiari and Garhi Habibullah. There are 15 battalions working under these six brigades. Each battalion consists of 700 to 800 troops, commanded by a Lt. Colonel. There are two to three battalions under each brigade which are operating in the forward affected areas. Under these battalions are the companies, headed by a major, comprising upto 150 people, which have been positioned at every 10 kilometers distance.

Altogether, one divisional headquarters, six brigades and 15 battalions, make up 22 nodal or hub points in the army network on ground in the NWFP. All these hub points can be approached by telephones. If you know the area, you ring up the concerned Brigadier or the Lt. Colonel who will respond to help you.

Now we come to Muzaffarabad sector. Major General Khalid is the incharge of the division, under whom five brigades are operating. Of the five brigades, three are stationed in Muzaffarabad the most affected area and one each in Neelam River Valley (Jora) and in Jehlum Valley (at Chakothi). There are 14 battalions and their companies working under these five brigades, which spread over different affected areas. Here also, telephones are available up to the battalion level 20 hub points including 14 battalions, five brigades and one divisional headquarters. All their telephone numbers are being advertised through the press and electronic media.

The third division in Bagh is under the command of Major General Qasim. Of the five brigades, working under him, two are deployed in Rawlakot, and one each in Bagh, Arja and Chattar. Their 12 battalions are spread out in the forward areas. In total there are 45 hubs which are manned by the army officers who have landlines, satellite and mobile phones and their numbers are being advertised on television and in newspapers. You should know who is sitting where. And if you want to deliver relief goods or have some queries about your relatives, you talk to the right person who will properly guide you. 3

I urge you to take full advantage of these 45 hubs; you will be welcome on all these points and guided where your help is needed. This will help reduce unnecessary traffic jams on roads and effectively channelise delivery of goods. I hope now you are clear about all the administrative arrangements as whom to contact and where to go. It has been brought to my notice that some loaded trucks were returning from the affected areas without delivering. It always happens in such cases that relief goods are seen being sold in markets. The government will never allow this.

 I have directed the police and the military police not to allow any truck to return with relief goods. There is absolutely no reason that a truck filled with relief goods return without delivering them. The situation will be closely monitored to prevent such attempts. Now, I would like to tell you about the tiers of medical treatment to the affected people. There were some problems in the initial stages but things have now gradually improved. Medical treatment is being provided at three levels.

First is the field level, where doctors are available with the battalions and even with some companies. We are trying to provide doctors down to the company level which is commanded by a major. If companies are added, there will be altogether 150 hubs and we are trying to provide doctors at all these points. General Duty Medical Officers (GDMOs) are working in these areas but we need more doctors in some areas.

We need volunteer doctors; they should come forward and contact these hubs from where they will be guided to areas where their services are needed. Above the first tier is the second one the field hospitals. We are very grateful to all the friendly countries which are coming with the field hospitals. Along with these, the army has also set up field hospitals where operations and surgeries are being performed.

Here too, we need specialists and whoever wants to volunteer himself should contact us so that he could be sent to the required field hospital. Serious patients are being brought to these field hospitals while those critically wounded and requiring major surgeries are airlifted to Rawalpindi and other major hospitals. I would again request the volunteer doctors to either approach the Federal Relief Commissioner or directly contact the area’s brigade if you want to be deployed in any particular area. I would like to talk about the donations.

By the Grace of Allah Almighty donations are coming in a big way. As of today, Rs. 4 billion have been donated by Pakistanis from the country and abroad and I am thankful to them from the core of my heart. Besides, our friends and other Pakistanis have also donated 610 million dollars. As I said earlier, there will be complete transparency in its spendings and no dishonesty will be allowed. As I have guaranteed earlier, I will keep informing you about the donations as they come. There have been some talks that the government is not sharing details of its spendings.

Let me tell you, so far not a single penny has been spent from these donations. The donations will be spent on reconstruction and rehabilitation and I will keep you informed about the overheads and the balance. I assure you again that there will be a total transparency and no one will be able to misuse it. I again appeal to all Pakistanis, specially the overseas Pakistanis, to contribute generously to the President’s Relief Fund. These funds would be badly needed during the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase. I would like to appeal to the international community also.

First of all I would like to express my extreme gratitude for the donations that we have received from all the countries, which is to the tune of 610 million dollars. But May I tell you when we are working out the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, and we are going to initiate it now, I think the amount is going to far exceed this amount and it is going to be beyond the reach of Pakistan government.

Therefore, I appeal to all the donors across the world, I appeal to you to donate more to the President’s Relief Fund. This will go a long way to alleviate the sufferings of those hit by the earthquake and will strengthen our hands in reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. 4

Now I come to the telecommunication system in the affected areas. There are many people who want to talk to their relatives in the affected areas. Some 80 free Public Call Offices (PCOs) have been set up in these areas, equally divided between NWFP and Azad Kashmir. Similarly, nearly 110 satellite PCOs have also been established in the affected areas. So we have provided this telecommunication system to facilitate affected people and their relatives. This relief effort in my view is going very well and if you follow what I have stated, it will improve further more.

Now I would like to talk on a sensitive issue, being discussed in India and which is also appearing in the media. I am very thankful to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his offer of relief. There is an impression being created as if we have refused this offer. We have not refused anything. We have welcomed all their assistance and we are grateful to them. We accept whatever relief goods, medicines they want to send.

We accept everything but troops we cannot accept and they should understand that. It has its own sensitivity. We do not accept troops from across the Line of Control (LoC). India has offered helicopters. We have told them yesterday that if they give helicopters to be flown by our pilots then that is acceptable to us. The misunderstandings in this regard, should be removed.

I again say that we are grateful to India for all their assistance which is still coming in and which we are not refusing. Now let us talk about what we have to do in future with regard to reconstruction and rehabilitation.

First of all reconstruction and rehabilitation are two completely different issues. This is the most difficult and a long-term phase which will take months and even years. And this is the area where I have stated that I want to covert challenge into an opportunity. And this is my resolve that we will do it and I will make it possible, Inshallah.

First of all we have to form an organization for reconstruction and rehabilitation. We have already launched PRI or President’s Rehabilitation Initiative. And in this connection I have set up an institution ERRA Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority to be headed by General Zubair. I have specially selected him because he is very capable and have an expertise in this kind of work.

First take reconstruction that means construction of government buildings, schools, hospitals, colleges, police stations and construction of people’s houses which have collapsed. We have to undertake this reconstruction phase in a manner which improves the living conditions of the affected people and provide them modern facilities.

General Zubair will study housing systems and look into setting up pre-fabricated houses which can be constructed quickly and are fire and earthquake-proof. We are not talking of constructing houses which can take years. Today technologies are available that can construct a house in days. So we will “Inshallah” bring in technologies by which we could construct houses quickly. Factories for construction of such houses will be established in the affected areas which will also create job opportunities and ensure provision of low-cost material.

This is what I mean when I said that we will change this challenge into an opportunity. We want to set up modern villages and localities where people who live up on the mountains could live there. But we do not want to force anybody. If someone opts to stay in his own area, we will help him there.

General Zubair will chalk up a comprehensive plan and we will inform the entire nation about it. Now the problem that we are facing is that in many areas where these houses have collapsed, whether we should clear the rubble and build houses there or to construct model colonies elsewhere? Removing debris is a very huge task. We will do whatever is in the people’s interest and which can be done effectively and in a short span of time. 5 Lastly, I come to rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is a very big issue.

 Reconstruction is related to houses but rehabilitation concerns the affected people. First of all comes the rehabilitation of children, specially those who have become orphans or those whose parents are alive but untraceable. We will send such children to rehabilitation centers. Besides, there are many widows under treatment in hospitals and there are many others who have become disabled. The government will take care all of them.

And as has been stated by the Prime Minister, we will not allow adoption of these children as it entails many social problems.

There are also many unscrupulous elements operating here. So this is our endeavour to fully rehabilitate these children. Those children, who find their parents, will be sent to their respective areas; otherwise their upbringing will remain the responsibility of the government.

These rehabilitation centers, initially being opened in different cities, will ultimately be re-located to their own areas so that they can be brought up in their own environment. Besides, rehabilitation also includes re-starting of business and commercial and economic activities for which micro-financing and Khushali Bank will have to be activated.

 We will have to bring in a system under which they could be provided financial support to start their business and stand on their own feet. Construction of schools, colleges and re-starting educational activity in a more effective manner is also a part of rehabilitation. Then there are people who have been traumatized by the calamity and suffering from psychological and psychiatric problems.

Setting up of trauma centers for these people is also a part of the rehabilitation process.

The reconstruction and rehabilitation process which, as I said, is not a matter of days or months but years. But we will bring in a system, by which reconstruction and rehabilitation could be done quickly, in a more efficient, effective and a successful manner. Nobody can bring back those who died but it is in our hands to change the lives of those who have survived and that we will do, Inshallah.

In the end I pray that God gives us strength and guide us so that we, I, the government, the people, the entire Pakistan together work as one to help the affected people in NWFP and Azad Kashmir and bring about a positive change in their lives so that whatever grievances they have, could be removed and they could happily live their lives. If you support me, it is my firm belief that we will face this challenge successfully. May Allah bless us all. Thank you Pakistan Paindabad.

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