AJK govt accused of misusing relief aid
22 November 2005
Islamabad: President of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Azad Kashmir, Sahibzada Ishaq Zafar, here on Tuesday said the Azad Kashmir government was ineffective and irrelevant and demanded that the relief goods in the earthquake-hit areas should be distributed by a neutral administration headed by a judge of the Supreme Court. He was speaking at a news conference at the PPP’s media office here before flying to England where he would meet the party’s chairperson and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. Mr Zafar alleged that the cabinet committee on disaster relief had completely failed to reach the affected people and there was an urgent need of a new and neutral administration that could oversee the distribution of relief goods in Azad Kashmir. The new administration could be headed by the chief justice of Pakistan or a judge of the apex court, he said. The PPP leader also criticised the government’s compensation mechanism terming it faulty. He said at first the government had announced Rs200,000 compensation for each dead. Later, it was announced that the amount would be decreased to Rs25,000. Again, he said, President Pervez Musharraf, announced that the compensation amount would be Rs100,000. However, Mr Zafar said, the compensation of Rs100,000 would not be for each dead but for each family that suffered losses of lives. He said it was ironic that a family whose 10 members died would get the same amount that would be given to a family in which only one person had died. Besides, he said, there was no difference between the compensation amount for the head of a family and a suckling child. Responding to a question, he said, PPP wanted a 100 per cent soft Line of Control (LoC) that could enable Kashmiris on both sides to meet each other and could also lead to the ultimate solution of the Kashmir issue. The PPP president said the ongoing relief activities were mainly focused on the provision of tents, however, the sever winter that would hit the hilly areas would just make these tents ineffective. He said there was an urgent need of corrugated galvanised iron (CGI) sheets so that the affected people could build wooden houses to counter the chilly winter. He said 30 per cent of the people affected by the Oct 8 earthquake in Azad Kashmir and NWFP were well-off, therefore, they should stop accepting relief goods. He also demanded the government to write-off the agricultural loans in the affected areas and provide three-month salaries in advance to government employees in the affected areas. He said relief goods should be provided to the people for at least six months so that they could run after relief goods almost every day. Mr Zafar said PPP, under the relief fund set up by Benazir Bhutto, had provided 10,000 blankets, 3,000 woollen shawls, and thousands of tents and other relief goods to affected people in Azad Kashmir. He said the children of Benazir Bhutto had also collected donations in Dubai and had handed over those to the Pakistani embassy there. PPP, he said, had set up 830 villages in Azad Kashmir, 638 in NWFP and 86 in Islamabad. The party had formed two committees that would establish schools and hospital in the disaster-struck areas, he maintained. He said 90 per cent of the buildings in four districts of Azad Kashmir included Poonch, Rawalakot, Neelum Valley and Muzaffarabad, had been completely destroyed, while cracks had appeared in the remaining 10 per cent as well. PPI ADDS Ishaq Zaffar accused the AJK Muslim Conference government of misusing relief goods for the quake victims. He accused that certain AJK ministers are involved in loot and plunder of relief goods.