Pakistanis remember flood victims

ABU DHABI/DUBAI — The best way to celebrate the Independence Day this year is to reach out to the victims of the natural disaster, heal their wounds and help them to help themselves, said Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in his message to the nation on the occasion of Pakistan’s 64th Independence Day. The message was read out at the Independence Day celebrations in the UAE on August 14.

By Haseeb Haider And Asma Ali Zain

Published: Mon 16 Aug 2010, 12:36 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 11:10 AM

Separate flag hoisting ceremonies were held at the Pakistan Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai. The usual enthusiasm was obviously dampened due to the devastating floods that have killed over 1,600 and displaced millions of people back home. Renewed appeals for donations for the flood victims marked the low-key celebrations in the country.

In Abu Dhabi, the dinner-reception, part of the Independence Day official celebrations, was not held as a mark of homage to those killed by the worst floods in the country’s history.

At a simple ceremony attended by dozens of the community’s elders, Ambassador Khurshid Ahmed Junejo hoisted the national flag. The choir from the Church of Pakistan along with other community members sang the national anthem and patriotic songs.

Messages from President Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousef Raza Gilani were read out while Ambassador Junejo made a brief speech.

The President, in his message, said that, “the enthusiasm of the Independence Day this year has been dampened because of the unprecedented floods that have devastated the lives of thousands of people and left scars on the lives of several hundred thousands more in all parts of the country.”

Prime Minister Gilani, in his message said that “the day reminds us of the heroic and relentless struggle Muslims of the subcontinent waged for a separate homeland under the inspiring and dynamic leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Our forefathers rendered numerous sacrifices for the establishment of Pakistan.”

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Junejo noted that the UAE leadership under the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, were taking keen interest in reaching out to the flood victims.

Concerned by the devastation, the UAE leadership has dispatched three helicopters to help relief operations, the ambassador said, adding that humanitarian relief organisations had already started work in the flood-affected areas.

Later, the ambassador discussed the flood situation with the community members and urged people to remit their donations to the Prime Minister of Pakistan Flood Relief Fund.

Consul-General Amjad Ali Sher hoisted the flag early morning at the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai. Messages from President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani were read out on the occasion. While addressing the gathering, Ali Sher made a strong appeal to the community members to come forward and help their brethren.

“Pakistanis are the second largest community in the UAE and it is our moral and national duty to rise to the occasion and reach out to our flood-affected brethren,” he said. “Every single penny donated by Pakistanis living abroad would not only lessen the sufferings of the victims but also improve the image of Pakistan as a self-respecting and self-reliant state capable of overcoming difficulties,” he said.

The Consulate would soon open a flood relief bank account in all branches of UBL to facilitate the community. “Pakistan Association Dubai, social centres and schools in other emirates are authorised by the embassy and consulates to aid those who wish to make donations,” said Ali Sher.

Meanwhile, Pakistanis opted to donate or volunteer their services to show support to the country and its people.

“This is the best I can do,” said Maha Khan, a volunteer. “I think this is the best way to celebrate independence this year,” she added.

Volunteers also continued their relief efforts at the Pakistan Association Dubai and at The Shelter. The association has already dispatched a container full of relief goods and Dh200,000 for the victims while the Pakistan Flood Relief group readied to ship another container to Pakistan last night.

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