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Musharraf Slams Oxfam Over Pakistan Quake Warning

A Pakistani Kashmiri earthquake survivor, carries buckets of water at a makeshift camp in a mountain area of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani administered Kashmir, 04 October 2006. Photo courtesy of Aamir Qureshi and AFP.
by Staff Writers
Islamabad (AFP) Oct 05, 2006
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf Thursday hit out at Oxfam after the aid agency said 1.8 million survivors of last year's earthquake would spend a second winter in makeshift homes. Musharraf said reconstruction after the October 8, 2005 quake that killed 74,000 people would be completed in three years, while some 600,000 homes would be built by end of 2008.

"These doomsday predictors have said that 1.8 million people would be in tents this winter. It is unfortunate how anyone can say this," Musharraf told the first annual conference of the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority.

Oxfam said on Wednesday that according to the government's estimates only 17 percent of people living in the 450,000 households destroyed or severely damaged by the quake have started building permanent homes.

"Oxfam estimates at least 80 percent of the remaining families, equivalent to 1.8 million people, are still living in temporary shelters with the rest staying with friends and relatives," it said in a statement.

But military ruler Musharraf angrily rejected the group's findings.

"We challenge anyone to come and see how many people are living in tents," he said.

Musharraf also defended Pakistan against wider criticism of its efforts to provide relief after the 7.6-magnitude quake, which also left 3.5 million homeless.

"They said that nothing was being done to save people, but nobody died due to lack of medical attention. Then there were predictions of famine, but nobody died of hunger," Musharraf said "They said that people will freeze to death, but it did not happen as we had provided one million tents to people.

"And for this I pay immense gratitude to the whole world because Pakistan did not have the capacity to make such a large number of tents," Musharraf said.

But Musharraf said Pakistan now needed an extra 800 million dollars, having underestimated the number of new homes needed by 200,000.

"I urge the Pakistani people and international donors to donate money to President's Relief Fund as we need 800 million dollars more for house reconstruction," he said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Muzaffarabad (AFP) Pakistan, Oct 05, 2006
Banned by the United States but feted in Pakistan, Islamic militants who once fought in Kashmir have spent the last year battling to help earthquake victims. There is nothing but praise from patients at a tin-roofed hospital in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, which was built by the hardline Jamaat-ud-Dawa organisation after October 8, 2005 disaster.

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