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‘Kathmandu will never forget Pakistan’s help’
By Our Correspondent / AFP
Published: May 4, 2015
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Nepal’s army chief Gen Gaurav SJB Rana visits the hospital set up by Pakistan. PHOTO: INP

Nepal’s army chief Gen Gaurav SJB Rana visits the hospital set up by Pakistan. PHOTO: INP

Nepal’s army chief Gen Gaurav SJB Rana was full of praise on Sunday for Pakistan’s prompt rescue and relief efforts after a catastrophic earthquake hit the Himalayan state on April 25. “The people of Kathmandu will never forget Pakistan’s timely support,” Gen Rana said during a visit to the Pakistan Army’s field hospital in Bhaktapur, an ancient city in the east corner of Kathmandu Valley.

According to a statement issued by the ISPR, Gen Rana expressed his gratitude for the wholehearted support extended by Pakistan and its army during the earthquake.

The 7.8-magnitude quake wreaked a trail of death and destruction when it erupted around midday, reducing much of Kathmandu to rubble and even triggering a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest. The death toll from the disaster has soared past 7,000, according to the Emergency Operations Centre, with more than 14,000 injured.

Multiple teams of rescuers from more than 20 countries have been using sniffer dogs and heat-seeking equipment to find survivors in the rubble. “Rescue operations are still under way, but focus has shifted to providing relief,” Nepal’s Home Ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said.

Gen Rana met Pakistani relief workers and appreciated their efforts for providing relief to the survivors. “People of Kathmandu will remember Pakistan because doctors from the Pakistan Army were present round the clock and they came with ample stock of medicines,” Gen Rana was quoted as saying by the ISPR.

The Pakistan Army field hospital in Bhaktapur is the main source of medical assistance for the earthquake survivors. Pakistan Army’s urban search and rescue teams are also engaged in rescue efforts round the clock.

Special relief fund

A special relief fund for Nepal’s quake victims has been set up on the orders of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry told a news conference.

Flanked by Ambassador of Nepal to Pakistan Bharat Raj Paudyal and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Maj-Gen Asghar Nawaz, Chaudhry said accounts under the head of relief fund would be opened in Pakistan as well as at all the Pakistani missions abroad. He said Pakistanis at home and overseas would be mobilised to contribute generously to the fund.

“The entire Pakistani nation is with Nepal in their hour of grief and is ready to extend all possible assistance.”

Chaudhry said Pakistan was one of the first countries to have dispatched relief goods, doctors and paramedics to Nepal.

He said Premier Nawaz, who was on an official visit to the UK when the quake struck, not only immediately issued a condolence message but also spoke with his Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala and offered all possible help. “Having experienced the 2005 earthquake, Premier Nawaz knows what it means to those in grief to find friends around them in such trying times.”

Chaudhry said that within hours of the PM’s instructions, the ministry of foreign affairs, NDMA, the Military Operations Directorate of the Pakistan Army and the Operations Directorate of the Pakistan Air Force sprang into action: four C-130 planes carrying relief goods (food, medicines, tents, etc), a 50-member team of doctors, surgeons, paramedics and technicians, a 38-member Pakistan Army urban search and rescue team with state-of-the-art equipment, sniffer dogs and a 30-bed makeshift hospital were dispatched to Nepal.

Chaudhry said that in response to the Nepal government’s request, Premier Nawaz approved provision of 20,000 more tents as well as additional 20 tons of rice. Part of the consignment was delivered a day earlier on two C-130 aircraft, he added.

Ambassador Paudyal expressed profound gratitude on behalf of the government and the people of Nepal. He said Pakistan’s assistance was very effective, timely and useful. “There has been wide admiration for Pakistan’s relief efforts.”

According to the Nepal home ministry spokesman, there was still an ‘acute shortage’ of tents for the hundreds of thousands left homeless. “Many far-flung villages have been affected.”

The UN says more than 160,000 homes have been destroyed and another 143,000 damaged. Unicef has warned of a race against time to avert an outbreak of disease among the 1.7 million youngsters estimated to be living in the worst-hit areas, with monsoon rains just a few weeks away.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015.