I am pleased to be here today to fulfill a pledge made by my former boss and Pakistan’s great friend, Special Representative Richard Holbrooke. Just two months ago at the Pakistan Development Forum, Ambassador Holbrooke announced a commitment on behalf of the U.S Government to help meet the needs of the flood victims here in Pakistan. These floods were historic in their devastation and the United States did not hesitate to provide emergency assistance and support to the people of Pakistan in the rescue and recovery operations. We also will not hesitate to assist the Government of Pakistanin the reconstruction efforts going forward as the flood victims seek to rebuild their lives and communities. The U.S. is proud that we were the first country to respond to Pakistan’s needs and with the most assistance for the flood relief.
On behalf of President Obama, Secretary Clinton, the US Congress, and the American people, I am here today to assure you that the United States remains a committed friend of the people of Pakistan. My visit is meant to continue the legacy of work by the Office of the Special Representative and to ensure that our dialogue with the people of Pakistan continues with the same intensity and candor that we have developed over the past two years.
With the flood waters still standing today in parts of Sindh, with thousands of people still displaced across Pakistan and with winter upon us, there is no time to waste or to hesitate in responding to the needs of the people. I am happy to announce here today with Minister Shaikh that the United States will provide $190 million dollars- over 16 billion rupees- of accelerated funding to support families affected by flood damage through the Citizens’ Damage Compensation Fund. This money will support the government’s efforts for disbursement of the watan cards and help families rebuild destroyed homes, buy basic necessities, and restart businesses.
We urge the government to add accountability mechanisms as approved with the World Bank to enable expeditious release of the US assistance to the Citizen’s Damage Compensation fund. We also encourage other donors to assist the people of Pakistan in overcoming these devastating floods by contributing financial support to the Citizens’ Damage Compensation Fund. We will continue to work with the Government of Pakistan to identify priorities for the remainder of the U.S. of the U.S. commitment to provide up to $500 million of accelerated US assistance from the Kerry Lugar Berman funding for flood recovery and reconstruction efforts. The economic impact of these floods has undoubtedly added to the troubling economic woes facing Pakistan, but moving forward with the critically needed economic reforms is an essential part of building Pakistan back to a more prosperous future for the betterment of all of Pakistan’s people.
I know that Amb Holbrooke would have wanted to make this announcement personally as he was very committed to responding to the needs of the flood victims. He travelled to these flood regions and was deeply moved by what he saw, but more importantly he was once again convinced of the resiliency of the Pakistani people. It is this resiliency that will carry Pakistan through once again in the wake of these challenges and the United States will stand committed to a long term, enduring, strategic partnership with Pakistan.