Singapore, Aug 12(ANI): Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, who has been under attack for taking a foreign trip while his country was struggling to cope with devastating floods, has defended his tour, saying that he was doing his best to help his troubled countrymen.
Zardari enraged his critics by going ahead with his visits to France (August 1-3) and Britain (August 4-8), even as the flood-related catastrophe was unfolding.
In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Zardari said that he had used his trip to mobilise foreign assistance for the flood victims.
"Some have criticised my decision, saying it represented aloofness, but I felt that I had to choose substance over symbolism," The Dawn quoted Zardari, as saying.
"As I return to Pakistan, I bring back tangible results that will help the flood victims in the short run and lay the foundations for national recovery in the long run."
"I might have benefited personally from the political symbolism of being in the country at the time of natural disaster. But hungry people can't eat symbols. The situation demanded action, and I acted to mobilise the world," he added.
He further said that following his meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, their government has pledged 24 million dollars in aid for the flood-affected people. ver 1,600 people have been killed and 15 million affected as raging floodwaters continue to wreak havoc in the country.
It first struck the western province of Baluchistan on July 22 before inundating the worst-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
In addition to causing major human loses, it has destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, washed away crops and livestock. (ANI)