New Delhi, Oct. 27: India has offered $25 million to Pakistan for earthquake relief and rehabilitation, with tips on the areas where the money should be spent.
Delhi has also advised Islamabad to buy some of the construction raw material from India.
The government decided to commit this amount to Pakistan at the meeting of the international donors for relief and rehabilitation in Geneva yesterday. The minister for programme implementation, Oscar Fernandes, represented India at the meeting, which was organised by the UN office of the Co-ordinator for Humanitarian Affairs.
“The government of Pakistan would be welcome to use this contribution for rebuilding homes and rehabilitating people, reconstructing the infrastructure and restoring essential services,” foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.
Islamabad “may also procure supplies of building material, such as cement, steel and other items, from India”, he added. “The Indian technology for prefabricated earthquake-resistant shelters will also be made available to Pakistan.”
A team of officials will leave for Islamabad tomorrow to discuss the points at which the two sides could open up the Line of Control (LoC) to help relief and reconstruction efforts. The team will be led by Dilip Sinha, joint secretary with the Pakistan-Iran-Afghanistan division in the foreign ministry.
Indian officials were caught by surprise by reports that Islamabad had already opened relief centres along the LoC to improve the flow of aid and movement of earthquake victims.
“We have, as of last night, opened relief centres on various proposed points of movement across the Line of Control,” an AFP report from Moscow quoted Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz as saying.
“This will be aid going in both directions. It’s not a one-way traffic.”
But officials in Delhi said they knew nothing about Pakistan’s plans to open relief centres on the LoC; all that was supposed to be discussed was opening points to allow movement of relief from either side.
The Pakistan Prime Minister confirmed that Indian and Pakistani officials were to meet in Islamabad on Friday “to sort out the modalities” of opening points across the LoC.
Since the October 8 earthquake, the LoC has come under sharp focus with both sides expressing willingness to lower the barriers.
Pakistan has proposed five “crossing points” while India has suggested three: at Chakan da Bagh in Poonch, Kaman in Uri and Teethwal in Tangdhar.