Zardari government accused of diverting 300 million pound Kashmir earthquake aid

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Islamabad, Aug 14(ANI): Pakistani officials have alleged that over 300 million pounds in foreign aid for victims of the October 8, 2005 Kashmir earthquake have been diverted by President Asif Ali Zardari's government to other causes.

They now fear that the diversion of funds will deter donors from giving further aid after the country's devastating floods.

Pakistan had received 3.5 billion pounds to rebuild vast swathes of the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province after the earthquake destroyed the region's infrastructure.

However, officials said that over 300 million pounds are yet to be handed over to the country's Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA).

According to officials, schools, hospitals, houses and roads planned with the money remain unbuilt almost five years after the earthquake, The Telegraph reports.

The earthquake had registered a magnitude of 7.6, and the devastation had claimed the lives of over 79,000 people and injured over 1,06,000.

In Balakot, where 5,000 of the town's 25,000 people were killed in the earthquake, thousands of families were told that their entire town would be rebuilt 10 kilometres away, as the town stood directly in a 'red zone' directly above the fault line, the paper reports.

However, the promises are yet to be fulfilled, as not a single new road has been completed nor a building construction begun on the site of "New Balakot", it added.

Earlier in March 2009, the ERRA officials were told that their budgets were being cut, as money had to be diverted to other government projects.

"When we have the money we will pay you," the paper quoted a senior official, as saying.

"All the money was given by Western governments, but they said 'we have so many ther problems'," he added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif has admitted that the suspicion among potential donors was hampering the fund-raising effort to help more than 14 million people displaced by the floods.

"There's reluctance, even people in this country are not giving generously into this flood fund because they're not too sure the money will be spent honestly," Sharif said. (ANI)

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