Quake was ‘God’s wrath’ for backing Afghan invasion: MP
* Opposes help from NATO forces, says no guarantee they will return once relief operations are over
By Mohammad Imran
ISLAMABAD: Riaz Hussain Prizada, a treasury member, has said in the National Assembly that the devastating October 8 earthquake was “God’s wrath” for Pakistan’s support of the US invasion of Afghanistan.
God was also angry with Pakistan because “we welcomed the holy month of Ramazan by rigging the last phase of the local government elections,” Pirzada said on Monday, which the National Assembly devoted entirely to debate on the earthquake.
The routine agenda of the house will remain suspended until Friday.
Pirzada opposed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) offer to dispatch 1,000 troops to the earthquake-ravaged areas to help relief work. “When the Pakistan Army is capable of dealing with the situation, why should the government agree to the deployment of NATO forces in the earthquake hit areas?”
He said there was no guarantee that the NATO forces would return home after relief operations were over. He said the government should have invited Turkish or Chinese engineers if it needed technical aid to rebuild the destroyed cities.
Earlier, Sherry Rehman of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) criticised the government for not ensuring buildings in Pakistan’s seismic zone were quake-proof. She said the countries of South Asia should share information on natural disasters under the Global Seismographic Network.
She said more than 60 relief organisations and the world’s 8th largest army had failed to respond swiftly to the calamity. She demanded that the government convert the presidency into an emergency relief camp.
She also accused the government of giving misleading information, on the one hand saying $10 billion was not enough for reconstruction of the earthquake-hit areas, and on the other issuing newspaper supplements praising the performance of General Pervez Musharraf in tackling the disaster.
Umer Ayub, minister of state for finance, said the Pakistan Army responded to the disaster efficiently, adding that he had witnessed the army’s rescue operation in Balakot. He said soldiers of the 10 Corps of the army were trapped in the quake and 450 jawans died. He asked the opposition not to criticise the Pakistan Army.
Tehmina Daultana of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said exiled former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto should be allowed to return to Pakistan at this time to take part in relief efforts, Online reported.
The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy submitted an adjournment motion saying there were massive cracks in Al-Mustafa Tower and Pak Tower after the October 8 earthquake and the buildings were not safe. The motion urged the lower house to “take strict notice” of this.
PPPP Secretary General Raja Pervez Ashraf complained that PPPP activists abroad had collected tents for quake survivors, but Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was refusing to bring the tents to Pakistan unless they were donated to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.