Set politics aside, prioritise flood calamity: Bilawal

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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday called for putting politics aside and prioritising collective efforts to address the flood catastrophe that has befallen the country.

Without naming PTI chairman Imran Khan, the minister criticised the politicking in “the other half of the country” — referring to his preparations for a long march redux — and said there “cannot be two Pakistans where one part is submerged while the other has someone playing politics”.

Addressing a press conference in Karachi, Bilawal said that water was still entering Sindh from the mountains of Balochistan.

He said that the country had come together in the aftermath of the 2010 floods and tackled the crisis collectively. “Politics will continue but this calamity has to be dealt with collectively.”

He also appealed to all political parties to “hit the pause button” and devote their time and energy to helping flood victims. Talking about the relief work, the foreign minister said that the next phase was reconstruction and rehabilitation. “We are awaiting damage assessment” for that to start, he added.

He stated that Pakistan was demanding “justice” from the world and was not “begging”. He also highlighted the recent visit of UN chief Antonio Guterres, saying that Pakistan was thankful for his help. “He (Guterres) admitted he had never before seen such devastation,” he said, adding that the UN chief urged other countries to come to Pakistan’s aid.

Bilawal said the government would invest in infrastructure as it rebuilt damaged homes. “As far as damages to agricultural crops are concerned, we resolve that we will help our farmers. By the end of November, we will be in a state to plant new crops,” he vowed.

During his press conference, the minister stressed that climate change was a “reality”. “We have to change our development model […] we need to build homes at par with climate requirements.”

Bilawal said it was a “joke” if any political party called for holding elections during floods. “I can ask my workers to contest [local government] elections but we have to help flood victims because they are the first priority,” he added.

 

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