Rs1bn donated by overseas Pakistanis for dams since July

ISLAMABAD: Overseas Pakistanis have so far contributed around Rs1 billion while local individuals as well as institutions have donated Rs7.47bn to the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams fund, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Within a span of five months, a total of Rs8.46bn was deposited in The Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams Fund, the SBP data showed.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar took the initiative of collecting donations by launching the fund on July 6 that was later joined by Prime Minister Imran Khan, making it a joint venture to overcome the country’s water scarcity.

Till December 6, according to the SBP, the overseas Pakistanis shared 10.6pc of the total contribution for the construction of the dams.

Earlier, the prime minister in his televised address to the nation had appealed to the estimated nine million overseas Pakistanis, particularly those living in European countries and the United States, to contribute at least $1,000 per head to the noble cause, and warned that Pakistan could face famine-like conditions by 2025 if new water reservoirs were not built.

The CJP recently visited the UK for fundraiser to avert the looming threat of drought in Pakistan in coming years.

Around $14bn is required for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam.

Within Pakistan, the contributions were made through cheques, cash and mobile phone message service. An amount of Rs125m was received through SMS services of the four cellular phone service companies operating in the country.

Many overseas Pakistanis sent their donations through debit and credit cards, while many others deposited money in the SBP Nostro account and commercial banks overseas.

Most of the foreign donations, around Rs362m, came from the Pakistanis living in the US, followed by around Rs214m from those living in the UK, while those in Canada donated Rs107m.

Other major donations by the overseas Pakistanis came from the United Arab Emirates (Rs65m), Saudi Arabia and Qatar (around Rs40m each), Switzerland (Rs32m) and others.

Generous contributions were also made by the overseas Pakistanis living in Norway, Turkey, Japan, China, Sweden, Russia, Brazil, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Austria, Brunei, Denmark, the Netherland, Belgium, Finland, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Fiji, Ireland, South Korea, Thailand, Oman, Jordan, the Maldives, Nigeria, Peru, Tunisia and the Philippines.

When contacted, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari hailed the contribution from Pakistanis working abroad for the noble cause and said they always came forward to support the country in difficult times.

He announced constitution of an overseas Pakistanis associates committee, which would be mandated to raise fund till the completion of dams. He said the confidence of overseas Pakistanis was boosted after PM Khan assured them of maximum facilitation.

Mr Bukhari pledged to bring in more money from upcoming fundraisers he was scheduled to attend abroad.