Switzerland reiterates support to Pakistan

Switzerland will continue to support Pakistan to combat terrorism and develop its socio-economic sector, said Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) Martin Dahinden.

He expressed grief over the death of Minority Minister Shabaz Bhatti and said the international community must help Pakistan to control such types of terrorist acts.

Addressing a ceremony held here at the Swiss embassy, Martin Dahinden who is currently here on a five-day said, “We have been active in Pakistan for 44 years and we will certainly continue our humanitarian and development work as long as it will be needed.

He referred to his meeting with Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani held Thursday and said ” We discussed new initiative to promote bilateral cooperation in all sectors of common interest.”

Martin said that he does understand the difficulties, Pakistan was passing through and assured that they were committed to continue their humanitarian assistance programme and enhance it further.

The existing Swiss-funded projects included the reconstruction site of three schools, a drinking water supply scheme and an adult literacy centre in Madyan.

For the past four decades Switzerland has been mainly committed to development work in the country. However, in times of crisis SDC also provides humanitarian aid, like the reconstruction of 100 schools after the 2005 earthquake.

Similarly, following the floods that inundated Pakistan at the end of July 2010 and affected around 20 million people, Switzerland was quick to provide humanitarian assistance.

“SDC took immediate action and provided emergency relief delivering drinking water,food and hygiene kits for thousands of affected people in the first few days of the disaster,” Dahinden commented. Overall Switzerland contributed US$ 10.7 million to flood-related humanitarian projects in the Pakistan, not included the US$ 45 million raised by the Swiss Solidarity for the victims.

So far, in 44 of cooperation SDC has vested 700 million Swiss francs for its development programs in Pakistan. Priority areas for new projects are mainly in KPK and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and focus on the reconstruction of infrastructure, provision of safe water, development of rural infrastructure and disaster risk reduction, which has become an integral part of the agency’s Livelihood Programs.

Switzerland ambassador to Pakistan Christoph Bubb also addressed the ceremony and hoped that the visit of Swiss delegation will open new avenues for further strengthening their years’ long bilateral cooperation.