US pledge for $510 million in Pakistan aid

(CNN) Emotional campaigning and lobbying at an international donors conference yielded pledges of about $3 billion to assist Pakistan following last month's South Asian earthquake -- enough to cover the estimated expenses of assisting victims and rebuilding the stricken region.

The new pledges, from dozens of governments and financial institutions, brought the total amount pledged for the region to about $5.4 billion. In a report earlier this month, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank said the quake would cost Pakistan about $5.2 billion.

One of the largest offers came from the United States, which upped its pledge to $510 million -- tripling the original pledge.

The U.S. offer to Pakistan -- a key ally in the battle against Islamist terrorism -- includes $300 million in cash, $100 million in private donations and $110 million in military-supplied relief, said Andrew S. Natsios, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

"President Bush has asked five of the United States' most prominent corporate chief executive officers to lead a private fundraising effort for the newly-created South Asia Earthquake Relief and Reconstruction Fund," Natsios said at the conference. "I am confident that they will reach the $100 million goal they have set for their efforts."

More than 73,000 people in Pakistan died in the 7.6-magnitude quake on Oct. 8, according to Pakistani authorities. India blamed it for another 1,200 deaths in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

"Children are the main victims because they happened to be in the school at the time. The major brunt of the casualties has been taken by the children. They say a full generation has been lost," Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told delegates.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said many survivors are homeless and bracing for a bitterly cold, snowy Himalayan winter. He had previously chided nations for a weak financial response, telling reporters, "When so many people are affected, none of us should be indifferent."

No comments: