Sada-e-Watan Sydney ™
Hon. Kevin Rudd attended Pakistani Community Event at Aust Islamic College of Sydney Rooty Hill
(Exclusive Coverage by: Syed Zafar Hussain, Editor-in-Chief Sada-e-Watan Sydney)
Hon. Kevin Rudd, Foreign Minister and Former Prime Minister of Australia was Chief Guest of the Pakistani Australian Community fundraising Lunch for Pakistan’s flood relief. This event was held on Sunday, 28th November at Australian Islamic College of Sydney Rooty Hill. This was the first time ever that such a senior and well known politician attended a Pakistani Community event in Sydney. It may be recalled that Hon. Kevin Rudd had flown straight to Pakistan after taking oath of office as Foreign Minister after this year's federal election, and after having surveyed the widespread devastation that occurred due to horrific floods, FM Rudd had immediately announced $ 40 million as relief assistance on behalf of Australian Government.
Hon. Ed Husic, Federal MP for Chifley Sydney who recently met with the Pakistan Consul Mr Hamid Asghar Khan in Sydney has played a pivotal role in making this event possible. The possibility of such an historic event was discussed between Mr Husic and Mr Hamid Khan when they met recently at the Pakistani Consulate and agreed that the well settled and growing Pakistani community should have increased interaction with public representatives in order to enhance mutual understanding and to assist integration.
Former Union Boss Ed Husic, Federal Member of Parliament created history by becoming Australia’s first Muslim Member of Parliament in the 2010 elections. He famously took oath from the Chief Justice of Australia on the Holy Quran owned by his Bosnian parents which they brought to the country when they migrated here.
Hon. Ed Husic is Elected Federal Member of Parliament from the Chifley area of Western Sydney and Pakistani community function was held at his electorate. Honourable Ed. Husic also sponsored this event of Rooty Hill. Aisha Amjad was MC of the function. Chairman Board of the Australian Islamic College of Sydney Dr.H.R.Survery & Acting Consul General of Pakistan Hamid Asghar welcomes and thanks Hon. Kevin Rudd, Foreign Minister and Former Prime Minister of Australia for attending fundraising Lunch for Pakistan’s Flood Relief. The function was attended by more than 500 people including Australian Dignities and Defence Advisor of Pakistan High Commission Brigadier Zahoor Ahmed.
Transcripts Speech of the Foreign Minister Hon. Kevin Rudd MP
"Australia and Pakistan: a long-term friendship"
Good afternoon, I am delighted to be here today. My sincere thanks to you all for the invitation to speak at this important event. This event comes at a significant time for many in this community; just after the celebration of eid, with its spirit of meeting the needs of others.
And it is fitting that the community has turned its thoughts to how it can continue to help through difficult times the people affected by the floods that devastated so much of Pakistan in August. We live in a busy world and the floods in Pakistan have been overtaken by other world events in the media. But that doesn't mean that things are back to normal in Pakistan — far from it. The torrential rain may have stopped and the floodwaters are receding but the emergency is still continuing and the level of need is still very high.
There's a lot to be done — more than one million homes, 8 000 schools and 24 000 kilometres of road were damaged during the floods. Health centres and other buildings were affected.2 million hectares of planted crops were washed away, millions of livestock and poultry were lost. Tools, machinery and irrigation systems — all are gone or no longer useable. Altogether, 21 million people had their lives disrupted, up to 10 million people continue to need emergency food and 8 million people don't have adequate shelter. Your fundraising efforts here today will be greatly appreciated by these people: they will be glad to know that you care. When it became clear that this was no ordinary flood, Australia responded quickly and generously. To date we have allocated $75 million in assistance. We have been the fifth largest donor.
Our assistance initially was for basic, practical things like food and clean water, tents, blankets, medical kits and mosquito nets, generators, storage containers and pumps. Practical assistance like this helped prevent a potentially catastrophic second wave of disease and malnutrition following the floods.
We also gave funds to UN agencies and non-government organisations. But we didn't just give money. We sent Australian medical workers. These Australian medical workers –some were civilians, others were from our military - set up a medical facility in the town of Kot Addu in southern Punjab. Over seven weeks they treated more than 11 000 people for things like dehydration, malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory diseases.
I met some of the team during a brief visit to the medical facility — my first visit abroad as Foreign Minister - and I think you would have been as proud of them as I was: they were amazing. They worked relentlessly in hot, humid, challenging conditions. They were committed to making the biggest difference they could possibly make, and saw hundreds of patients every day. They worked side-by-side with the Pakistani military and civilian authorities, treating everyone from new-born babies to great-grandfathers.
With the local community they shared Eid-ul-Fitr feasts and cricket competitions, in which they were soundly beaten. The team has returned to Australia but there is still a lot of long-term recovery ahead for the people of Pakistan. The overall cost of reconstruction has been estimated at about $9 billion, millions of people still have nowhere to live and, to make matters worse, winter is coming.
After leaving Kot Addu in September, I went to the United Nations, where I spoke of the need for us all to stand by the people of Pakistan as they go about the long process of recovery, reconstruction and development. For our part, Australia is helping to get kids back to school, helping farmers re-establish their crops and their livelihoods.
We're doing this through UN agencies and other organisations that have a lot of experience in overseas aid, organisations like UNICEF and UNHCR, which the money raised at today's event here in Rooty Hill will also go to support.
Even before the floods, Australia had a large aid program in Pakistan. This year it will be more than $66 million, which is double that of last year and triple that of the year before.
Why do we give aid to Pakistan? We do so for two main reasons.
First, and fundamentally, we give aid because the Australian people care. We care about suffering and poverty. We care about meeting need. We care about our friends in Pakistan.
Second, we give this aid because it is in Australia's interests to do so. Australia is a middle power with global interests. We have a deep national interest in working with others to develop solutions to the great global challenges.
That is why Australia is the 12th largest source of funding for the UN budget. Why it is a generous donor to UN development and humanitarian organisations. And why it has contributed 65,000 personnel to more than 50 UN and other multilateral peace and security missions over the past 60 years.
Australia knows we have a real contribution to make to help address the great challenges of development and security that Pakistan faces. We understand that it is vital that Pakistan emerge from the flood crisis in a better position to grow and prosper.
But right now about one-third of the population lives in poverty and about one-quarter is malnourished. A woman dies from causes related to pregnancy every twenty minutes and one in ten children does not reach the age of five. About 42 million young people between the ages of 5 and 19 don't go to school. By 2020, the present population of 167 million will grow by another 40 million. Eight thousand people will enter the workforce every day and economic growth will need to double to keep up.
Pakistan is a strategically important country. It is critical to progress in Afghanistan, where about 1550 Australian troops are deployed to help prevent that country ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorists or extremists.
What happens in Pakistan directly affects the security of the region and Australia's long-term national interests. All countries of our region and beyond will benefit from a Pakistan which is democratic, stable and prosperous.
So we're helping to get kids into school, and helping pregnant women get good medical care. We're working with farmers to produce more food and we're improving expertise within the country by offering scholarships to hundreds of post graduate students.
As a founding member of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan, we're working with Pakistan as a long-term partner to strengthen its security, economy and its democracy.
Australia has doubled the number of Australia-based training positions for Pakistani defence personnel to more than 140 places. Pakistan is important to Australia and we want to see the people of Pakistan live safe and prosperous lives. Pakistan has enormous potential. Its population is young. It has great mineral wealth. Its land is fertile.
Democracy, stability and security will provide the foundation on which that potential can be realised. Regional economic integration, especially with its neighbour India, will help.
And, as the Government of Pakistan has recognised, domestic economic reforms are also needed. Of course it will take years for Pakistan and the communities hit by the flooding to recover from the most damaging natural disaster in generations. But Australia believes that Pakistan's future is bright. We will walk that road to recovery with Pakistan.
Australia and Pakistan have been friends since the birth of modern Pakistan just over sixty years ago. Australia established a diplomatic mission in Pakistan in 1948.
But people from what is now Pakistan have been in Australia ever since the 1860s, making valuable contributions to the Australian way of life. There are now some 17, 000 Pakistan-born residents in Australia and 5, 000 student enrolments. Pakistani migrants are among the millions of migrants from all around the world who have made great contributions to the Australian way of life.
As Ed Husic said in his first speech in Parliament two months ago, "migrant families bring with them a tenacious determination to join in unity with the ambitions and hopes and purpose of a new nation — a multicultural nation".
He clearly had this community in mind. It is clear to me that this community collects from around the world people of strong culture, strong values, hard work and dedication. Ed Husic has told me of the strong role this school is playing here in your community. How it has formed a focus for the Muslim community of Rooty Hill and western Sydney. How it is thriving academically — a reflection of the strong emphasis on education in this community.
The Pakistani community has made a valuable contribution to Australia for 150 years. It will continue to flourish here and contribute even more greatly in the future. And it will help Australia as Australia walks as a friend and partner of Pakistan, in good times and bad.
Ap logon ka shukryia ke aap logon nei mujhe bolaia hei (thank you for inviting me to speak today).
Allah Hafiz (Goodbye). Thank you.
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