US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at the State Department in Washington, on September 26, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: The United States has announced another $10 million for flood relief efforts in Pakistan where more than 33 million people have been affected by deadly deluge.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the US commitment to the people of Pakistan and announced “another $10 million in food security assistance, which will provide urgent supplies to help farmers recover, like seeds and fertilizer, assistance repairing critical irrigation infrastructure damaged by the floods.” The US government has provided more than $56 million in flood relief and sent about 17 planes full of supplies like food and materials to build shelters, tents, and tarps, he said.

Blinken announced the additional assistance following his meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the State Department in Washington on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the 75th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Pakistan and the US.

Bilawal Bhutto thanked the US government for its assistance, saying that “no country could deal with a crisis of this proportion on its own.” Bilawal informed Blinken about the devastation caused by the cataclysmic floods that have displaced millions, destroyed two million homes, and wiped out crops and livelihoods.

“We have experienced a climate catastrophe of biblical, apocalyptic proportions … A third of my country [is] under water, more than the land mass of the United Kingdom; 33 million people – more than the population of Australia” are affected. Of the 33 million people affected, 16 million are children, Bilawal added.

Pakistan seeks climate justice

“Pakistan being one of the lowest emitters was ironically one of the most severely impacted by climate change,” the foreign minister told the US state secretary. “And that’s why we look to you for assistance and support so we can get our people climate justice,” Bilawal said. “The opportunity in this crisis in Pakistan is that we must build back better, greener, more climate-resilient homes as well.

US secretary of state promised strong US support to help Pakistan meet the challenges of rehabilitation and reconstruction, saying “we send a simple message. We are here for Pakistan, just as we’ve been during past natural disasters” to meet the immediate needs and to rebuild.

The US private sector also expressed keenness to invest in Pakistan’s energy sector given the country’s enormous potential, Pakistan’s foreign office statement said.

At the talk, Blinken also called on Pakistan to seek debt relief from close partner China to cope with the disastrous floods. “I also urged our colleagues to engage China on some of the important issues of debt relief and restructuring so that Pakistan can more quickly recover from the floods,” US secretary of state said after talks in Washington. Blinken also said that during his talks with his Pakistani counterpart, they discussed “the importance of managing a responsible relationship with India.”

Blinken and Bilawal also discussed partnering on food security, economic prosperity, regional stability, and Afghanistan. “We continue to work closely on counterterrorism issues. We have a shared stake in Afghanistan’s future after two decades of war” the US secretary said, adding that the countries share a common objective of a more stable and peaceful Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s foreign minister expressed the need to assist Afghanistan in averting the humanitarian crisis and underlined that “Pakistan would continue to work with the international community to achieve peace, development, and stability in Afghanistan.”