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British deputy PM visits flood-hit Pakistan

By Awais Saleem, IANS,

Islamabad : British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg Wednesday visited the flood-hit areas in Pakistan’s Sindh province along with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Around 1,600 people have died while over 20 million have been displaced in floods triggered by torrential rains that started in July. Infrastructure has been badly hit across Pakistan and the country is now looking for assistance from global powers to help in relief and rescue operations.

Clegg arrived in Pakistan Wednesday morning and went with Zardari to Sukhur, where he visited relief camps set up by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). He talked to women and children there and learnt about the misery they were going through.

He held a meeting with the president at Sukhur airport and was given a briefing by representatives of NGOs involved in relief work.

Later, Clegg went on an aerial tour of Kashmore and Jacobabad.

The British deputy prime minister assured all possible help for the rehabilitation of the flood-affected people. He offered to send technical experts to assess the damage caused to the Sukhur barrage.

Britain has offered the second largest humanitarian assistance to Pakistan following the disaster and the contribution by now has exceeded 64 million pounds.

Clegg is scheduled to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the evening.

The visit of the British deputy prime minister was kept under wraps and the officials concerned were not given any details in advance.

Andrew Mitchell, British secretary of state for international development, and Baroness Saeeda Warsi, chairperson of the Conservative Party, also visited Pakistan Aug 18 and assured all possible help to the flood-hit.

(Awais Saleem can be contacted at [email protected])