After dithering, India offers flood aid to Pak

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna spoke to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi over the telephone and offered $5 million assistance on behalf of India for providing relief materials to flood-hit people in the neighbouring country. This is the first time Krishna and Qureshi spoke to each other after their joint press conference in Islamabad on July 15 last ended in an almost public spat.

A spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said the minister, on behalf of the people and the Government of India, has conveyed to Qureshi “the deepest sympathies and condolences to the people and the Government of Pakistan” over the tragedy caused by the natural disaster.

Around 1,100 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were maimed and rendered homeless due to the devastating floods in northwest  Pakistan. The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had issued a global appeal for $450 million aid for the flood-hit country.

The US has already pledged $55 million and its choppers extensively took part in rescue and relief operations in the deluged areas. China so far has offered $1.5 million. But India has been dithering over the past few days, although a section in the government in New Delhi believed that it was a good opportunity to take part in the aid diplomacy.

New Delhi had sent IAF  planes with huge consignments of relief materials to Islamabad during the massive earthquake in Pakistan in October 2005. However, it was hesitant to do the same gesture this time particularly because of the fresh stress that the bilateral relation have come under after the foreign minister-level talks between the two countries failed.

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