Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pakistan Says "Thank You" for USG Flood Assistance by Raiding US Embassy Warehouse. You're Welcome!

Last month, the Government of Pakistan made yet another disaster declaration after massive flooding hit its Sindh Province. The floods which started in August at the beginning of the monsoon months have caused considerable damage with an estimated 434 civilians killed and with an estimated 5.3 millio­n people and 1 ,524,773 homes affect­ed.

On September 13, 2011, in response to the Government of Pakistan's disaster declaration on September 9, the United States according to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad has immediately begun providing a broad range of assistance to Sindh communities affected by this year's floods, including food supplies for more than 50,000 families, and safe drinking water, shelter, sanitation and hygiene supplies, and basic health care for thousands more:

Already, USAID-funded food packages have reached 23,000 families in seven districts of Sindh (Badin, Mirpurkas, Tando Muhammed Khan, Tando Allah Ya, Tharparker, Umarkot, and Hyderabad). This assistance was delivered by the International Organization for Migration. USAID also paid for nearly 60 trucks to deliver relief to affected areas and 1,000 plastic tarpaulins for shelter, and is financing other efforts to coordinate relief activities.
In late September, the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar announced that Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, wife of U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter, visited an ongoing U.S. project to restore flood-damaged irrigation canals.  In total, the U.S. is restoring 1000 flood-damaged canals  in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Balochistan as part of assistance to the areas affected by the 2010 floods.

Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, wife of U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter
Photo from US CG Peshawar
The presser from CG Peshawar went on to say:
The project is one of many undertaken by the U.S. government in cooperation with Pakistan to restore self-sufficiency to farmers affected by floods.  Additional measures include providing seed, fertilizer, livestock feed, and medicine to more than 500,000 farmers in three provinces.  In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province alone, more than 400 irrigation canals in 12 districts have been restored, amounting to 12,000 kilometers.

This project funded by the American people is being implemented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and Pakistani Provincial Disaster Management Authorities.

On October 3, the US Embassy in Islamabad announced that in all, the U.S. government is providing approximately $19 million in humanitarian assistance in response to the Government of Pakistan’s September 6 appeal and the UN’s September 18 appeal.

This includes funding for mobile health clinics that can provide health services to 500,000 people, emergency shelter kits for nearly 20,000 families, and 9,000 tons of rice to the World Food Program (WFP) which, when combined with other WFP food assistance, will reportedly meet the immediate food needs of 1.5 million people affected by flooding in Sindh Province for one month.

Just a few days prior to this October 3 announcement, the Government of Pakistan, anxious to say "thank you" for U.S. Government help in the flooding (and also for killing UBL hiding under the shadow of its prime military school), raided a U.S. Embassy warehouse in Islamabad. Under the headline, US Embassy warehouse sealed, reports:
“We went to the warehouse on complaint of some residents of the sector and sealed the building as it was being constructed without approval of the CDA,” the authority`s Director General (Planning) Sarwar Sindhu said.

CDA officials said the warehouse was under construction and belonged to one Mehboob Elahi who had got changed the status of plot changed from industrial to warehouse a few months ago. Earlier, the place was used for a beverage factory.

Electronic media highlighted the issue throughout the day, saying that `a bunker or a hideout of Americans` had been sealed or raided.

“We had information that a building was being constructed in the industrial area in violation of CDA`s building laws on which we raided the building,” another official said. subsequently reports that "a senior official of the CDA, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune that in addition to the warehouse in sector I-9/3, the civic body has identified three more sites where building codes are being violated by officials of the US embassy."

Oh, also that "A CDA official privy to the development said that the raiding team found concrete structures and signal jammers in the warehouse."
"US embassy Spokesperson Mark Stroh denied these claims, saying that no “illegal activities” are underway in any warehouse or official residence of the US diplomats. “Our offices are operating in the capital city with the approval of foreign ministry,” he said.

Earlier, the US embassy lodged a strong protest with the Foreign Office over the seizure of one of its warehouses in sector I-9/3 by CDA and a police team for “violations of building laws”.

On October 16, Pakistani press reports that local authorities unsealed the US Embassy’s warehouse building in Sector I-9 Industrial Area yesterday, following the intervention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"A source privy to the developments confided to The Nation that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has directed the civic agency to consider building as a diplomatic facility and after fulfilling the defined rules in this regard it should be handed over to the embassy."

Sorry, no Team 6 members were found hidden in the pretend "bunker" or unmarked wooden crates stored in the warehouse. CDA employees must be watching a whole lot of Jack Bauer episodes.

Oh, don't get mad.  They were just trying to say, "thank you," silly! If we give them $57 million more in humanitarian assistance, will they also raid "three more sites" of the US Embassy identified by CDA authorities?

Somebody, please go write that check.

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