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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK
Musharraf 'saddened' by aid delay
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
The Pakistani leader has been touring quake-hit areas
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has expressed sorrow that many people affected by Saturday's earthquake had to wait for vital relief to arrive.

However, he said that the delay had been unavoidable as the roads into the quake zone had been destroyed.

In a national TV address, Mr Musharraf insisted that relief was on its with the help of US helicopters.

The president praised the people of Pakistan for their courage and the international community for their aid.

The Pakistani government has been criticised for failing to deliver timely aid to survivors of the massive earthquake that struck the north of the country on Saturday.

Many victims of the disaster in remote regions of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the North-West Frontier Province are still waiting for shelter and medical help.

"I am deeply saddened that some people had to wait days before aid reached them," Mr Musharraf said.

"This tragedy is much bigger than the capacity and capability of the government as a whole."

Transparency promise

Appearing on television in civilian uniform and speaking in English and Urdu, Pakistan's military leader thanked the various nations that had offered their help.

He spoke of his gratitude to the leader of Pakistan's neighbour and nuclear rival, India.

"The Indian prime minister was very kind to ring me up and offer all possible assistance," Mr Musharraf said.

"We express our gratitude to him and we have accepted the Indian aid in certain form and have informed them."

Mr Musharraf announced the establishment of a presidential earthquake relief fund and appealed for donations from Pakistani businessmen and industrialists.

"I urge them to treat this as a chance to help Pakistan's neediest," he said.

Spending from the fund would be fully transparent, he said, and the nation would duly receive a complete account of it.



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