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Pakistan Leader Pledges Close Monitoring of Relief Aid


Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says his country has received pledges of more than $6 billion to rebuild after last year's earthquake. He has told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland about Pakistan's strategy to deal with the disaster.

President Musharraf told the conference of business and political leaders that the key to his earthquake strategy has been to remain calm and show the victims the government is responding.

"The basic ingredient of a leader, I personally feel, is that he should never panic, whatever the problems, whatever the circumstances. This is the basic ingredient of leadership in all circumstances facing any disaster, facing any challenge," said Mr. Musharraf.

He says the October 8 earthquake dealt Pakistan a heavy blow that will take years to fully overcome.

"We've suffered casualties of about 73,000. There are about 3.5 million people affected," he said. "400,000 to 500,000 houses have been destroyed. Education and medical centers have collapsed. Government institutions have also collapsed. This is the challenge that we face, to rebuild, to convert this challenge into an opportunity."

President Musharraf says one of the most immediate challenges has been for the government to distribute cash to the quake-affected region where banks were destroyed and businesses closed.

"Within a period of two months we monetized the area to an extent that business activity got generated, economic activity got generated, and people started reconstructing their lost houses themselves to a large extent. So this was a great action we took which paid a lot of dividends," he said.

The president is also pledging to personally monitor the spending of billions of dollars in reconstruction aid to make sure it is used well and honestly.

"We have already successfully implemented the relief part. We need to successfully implement the reconstruction and rehabilitation," he continued. "And this I will keep monitoring as the last part of my responsibility as a leader. I must know that the effects that we have desired keep getting created at various times and at various places."

President Musharraf says the $6.2 billion in foreign aid pledges are more than he expected, and he expresses his gratitude for the support of the international community.

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