ISLAMABAD, Jan 1: Pakistan will dispatch on Monday two navy ships to Sri Lanka to help in rescue operations there and also fly two C-130 cargo planes with relief goods and medical supplies to Indonesia that has been worst hit by the Tsunami disaster.

The decision was taken at the highest political level here on Saturday.

"Starting from Jan 3, 2005, six to seven sorties of two C-130 aircraft are being sent to Indonesia to deploy one composite engineering task force and one field hospital. Total deployment of these self-sustained engineering and medical units will be around 300 personnel. Besides these units, relief supplies will be rushed to Indonesia," the foreign ministry announced here on Saturday.

The ministry spokesman said on the same day Pakistan would also dispatch to Sri Lanka two navy ships carrying helicopters together with a Marine Expeditionary Force as well as doctors, paramedics, medical supplies, relief goods and foodstuff.

Pakistan has decided to join the International Task Force to coordinate worldwide relief and international efforts for the Asian region ravaged by the deadly earthquake and Tsunami. Pakistan was the first country to respond and dispatched a C-130 aircraft with relief consignment of tents, medical supplies and food items to Sri Lanka within 24 hours after it was struck by tsunami.

Two Pakistan Navy ships, PNS Tariq and PNS Nasr that were in Maldivian coast when the tragedy occurred, helped in evacuation of 367 foreign tourists, representing 17 nationalities, and locals stranded on the Memmu Atoll island, south of Male. Sea king helicopter onboard Nasr was also deployed for dropping food supplies to the affected inaccessible areas and local authorities dealing with the emergency were also taken onboard for aerial survey of the area to assess the extent of damage caused.

Pakistan Navy ships also established a medical assistance centre at the main jetty and provided medical assistance to the injured. On Dec 28, the two naval ships left for the eastern and western zones of the Maldives for assistance and aerial survey/damage assessment. On Dec 31, a C-130 aircraft, carrying relief items of tents, blankets, foodstuff and medicines, was dispatched to the Maldives.

Pakistan government has conveyed its readiness to assist the affected countries in any manner required to alleviate the humanitarian consequences of this catastrophe. Both President Gen Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, besides sending messages of condolences and sympathies, also spoke to the leaders of the affected countries by telephone, assuring them of Pakistan's fullest cooperation and assistance in rescue operations.

To implement the directives of the president and the prime minister, the cabinet division, armed forces and the foreign ministry are working closely to provide timely humanitarian and relief interventions to the countries affected by the tsunami waves, the foreign ministry spokesman said.

In his capacity as Chairman of Saarc, Mr Aziz on Friday called for evolving a mechanism for putting in place an Asia-wide Early Warning and Disaster Response Regime to avert such disasters in future.

"I am confident that the Saarc member states will at the forthcoming summit in Dhaka give priority consideration to elaborating such collaborative arrangements," he said in his message to the Saarc member states on the new year eve.

The 13th Saarc summit that was scheduled to be held on Jan 9-11 has also been postponed to enable the South Asian governments of member-states to pay undivided attention to relief and reconstruction efforts.

The tsunami disaster has caused wide-scale damage to life and property. It has killed more than 150,000 people and affected even more in 12 South and South-east Asian states. Among the Saarc states Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives have been severely affected by it.

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