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Embassy appeals for the help of Swat refugees.

Byline: Javid Iqbal

RIYADH/ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Embassy in the Kingdom has called for help from the Pakistani community to help alleviate the sufferings of the thousands of displaced people in the Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan.

"We expect that the Pakistani community in the Kingdom will again come forward, as it did in 2005, to console the affected when the devastating earthquake had struck the northern regions of the country, and now assist the government in rehabilitating the two million internally displaced persons of Swat, Dir and Buner," Mohammad Sarfaraz Ahmad Khanzadah, acting ambassador at the Pakistani Embassy, said while addressing the community in Riyadh yesterday afternoon.

He said that, under the title "Prime Minister's Special Fund for the Victims of Terrorism," his government had opened a bank account.

"Those who want to contribute to this fund may deposit their cash at the embassy or in Account No. 0027-120012/012, at Bank Al-Jazirah, Al-Rayan Branch, Riyadh," he said, observing that contributions in kind could only be tents, fire extinguishers, water-storage tanks or electric power generators.

Khanzadah also said that the government had instructed every member of the Parliament in Islamabad to contribute Pakistani rupees half a million to the fund. He said that the embassy auditorium would be available if any of the community groups wanted to use it for fund-raising campaign.

The United Nations also launched an appeal yesterday for $543 million for the displaced people in the region, where officials said villagers were turning against the Taleban.

The United Nations has warned of a long-term humanitarian crisis and called for massive aid for the displaced by the offensive and about 555,000 people forced from their homes by earlier fighting in the region.

Tribesmen near the valley are raising militias to prevent the Taleban from expanding their influence in the region, a commander said yesterday. Maj. Gen. Sajjad Ghani said people in neighboring Kalam Valley and Lower Dir district were raising their own militias, commonly known as Lashkars, to confront the militants.

Meanwhile, a car bomb exploded in a busy area outside a cinema in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar yesterday killing at least 10 people and wounding 80 others, a local minister said.

"The purpose of such type of incidents is to terrorize the masses," provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told AFP, confirming the toll and adding some of the dozens hurt were in a serious condition.

- With input from agencies

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:May 23, 2009
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