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Donors Exceed Goal to Help Pakistan's Earthquake Recovery


Delegations from around the world met Saturday in Islamabad to provide additional funds to help Pakistan recover from last month's deadly earthquake. Donors pledged more than the requested $5 billion for immediate and long-term reconstruction.

Pakistan, still reeling from last month's massive earthquake, had asked for $5 billion.

It came at a one-day donors conference here in Islamabad.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan - who had toured the quake zone Friday - told delegates from about 75 countries and international organizations that Pakistan faces an unprecedented challenge and time is running out for many of the survivors of the October 8 earthquake.

"The pitiless Himalayan winter is almost upon us and growing more and more severe every week," Mr. Annan said. "We must sustain our efforts to keep people as healthy and as strong as possible until we can rebuild."

In response, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank both announced separate $5 billion relief packages.

The United States also promised more than $500 million, almost three times its earlier contribution.

The quake killed more than 70,000 people and displaced at least three million others. Hundreds of thousands of people are temporarily sheltered in emergency tent villages across the rugged Himalayan Mountain territory.

Aid agencies say entire cities will have to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Speaking at the conference, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf promised his government would not only replace but also improve what the earthquake destroyed.

By this time next year, Mr. Musharraf said he hoped more than 400,000 new homes would be completed.

"This is a tall order indeed," said Pervez Musharraf. "I do understand myself but we will push it to meet this target because we are shifting the people from temporary shelter in the tents to permanent accommodation."

President Musharraf also praised historic rival India for its support following the earthquake.

The disaster struck in the divided Kashmir region, killing 1,300 people in areas under Indian control.

The Pakistani leader said the new spirit of cooperation between the two countries offered a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to resolve their decades-old dispute over Kashmir.

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