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New homes will be better: Musharraf

April 09, 2006

MANSEHRA, April 8: President Pervez Musharraf said on Saturday that the nation had faced last October’s devastating earthquake with extraordinary grit and determination and promised to reconstruct the quake-ravaged area on modern lines and better than before.

“We will reconstruct homes, health and education facilities as well as infrastructure better than before and now you will have more quake-resistant schools and basic health units,” President Musharraf told a large gathering in the picturesque village of Kodar in the suburbs of Mansehra.

President Musharraf’s visit coincided with the start of a reconstruction phase and the completion of six months since the 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northern Pakistan, killing over 73,000 people and making 3.5 million people homeless.

The president earlier inaugurated a project aimed at restoration of the historic Kodar Jamia mosque and presided over a ground-breaking ceremony for a primary school which had been destroyed by the earthquake.

Addressing a gathering of the National Volunteer Movement and locals in the Sirin Valley, President Musharraf said that the international community had pledged $6.4 billion and the nation generously donated Rs10.5 billion to the president’s fund.

“All this money will be spent on the rehabilitation of the affected areas,” the president said. He also held out an assurance that the money would be spent in a transparent manner.

“We are not lacking in funds. Rs10.5 billion of the president’s relief fund and $6.5 billion of foreign aid will be spent on reconstruction of quake-ravaged areas in a transparent manner, so that no complaints are lodged like in the past,” he said.

He said that Mansehra would be transformed into a modern city and announced Rs100 million for development projects there. He said that more funds would be available for specific projects.

“The people must see these projects on the ground. We have no hesitation in providing you the resources, but we do not want to see the money being misused,” he added.

Local representatives were asked to provide detailed reports of development projects where the money was needed and assured a prompt response from the government.

The president also assured full support to the demand for construction of mini-dams in the area and asked local representatives to come up with solid proposals.

He said all villages of the area would be provided electricity while efforts were being made to provide natural gas to as many areas as was possible.

“People from across the world come here to enjoy natural beauty, the lush green valleys and we all must protect these and use alternative fuels instead of wood for cooking and heating,” the president said.

He also assured full support in the reconstruction of the Hazara University that was completely damaged in the earthquake.

The president appreciated the resilience of the people of NWFP and AJK who lost their loved ones and worldly possessions, yet stoicly faced the difficulties in the wake of the country’s worst ever natural calamity.—Agencies