KARACHI: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wed­ne­sday called for “hitting the pause button” on politics and urged all parties to make collective efforts and devote their time and energy to help flood victims.

Addressing a press conference at Chief Minister House in Kara­chi, the minister recalled how 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 stressed.

However, he didn’t forget to take a dig at his political rival. In a thinly veiled reference to PTI chief Imran Khan’s preparations for a long march on Islamabad, Mr Bhutto-Zardari criticised the politicking in “the other half of the country” and said there “cannot be two Pakistans where one part is submerged while the other has someone playing politics”.

The PPP chairman said the international community was ready to help, but some politicians were “hatching conspiracies” and giving “irresponsible statements” to affect the global support reaching the flood victims.

Asks all parties to focus on floods, insists politics will continue, calamity must be dealt with collectively

“But this will not affect because we have reconstructed and restored the cordial relationship with all the countries, which was vitiated by PTI Chairman Imran Khan during his tenure as prime minister,” he said.

Quoting the latest data, he said nearly 1,700 people had been killed in the floods and their aftermath caused by heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers. The floods have affected more than 33 million people — half of them children.

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 said, adding that the country was demanding “justice” from the world and was not “begging”.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said water was still entering Sindh from the mountains of Balochistan. He said although half of the total inundation had been cleared, various towns and settlements in Sindh, Balochistan, south Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were still under water.

Floods had damaged the infrastructure of 10 per cent of health facilities in the province, he said, adding that 3.8m people were still being provided with medical treatment through special medical camps. He also called for concrete measures to ensure food security.

Visit to Germany

The foreign minister will undertake an official visit to Germany from Oct 6 to 7 at the invitation of his German counterpart, the Foreign Office announced, according to the APP news agency.

During his stay in Germany, Mr Bhutto-Zardari will meet Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and other dignitaries. The visit will focus on deepening Pakistan’s economic engagement with Germany and identifying opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation, the FO said.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2022

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