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SALT LAKE CITY -- Pakistan's ambassador to the United States visited with the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Tuesday morning. He thanked Church leaders for the humanitarian supplies going to the victims of massive floods in his nation.
Some 8 to 10 million people remain in need of some sort of daily assistance, out of a total of 18.7 million affected by the flooding in Pakistan. -United Nations
Ambassador Husain Haqqani also expressed his gratitude to Church members for their generosity. He said the magnitude of this disaster is difficult for Americans to grasp. Take the recent earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Indonesia and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan -- this disaster, he said, is more devastating than all three combined.
Flood waters in Pakistan have left 20 million people homeless; 8 million of them children. Haqqani said it remains a disaster of catastrophic proportions.
He also said the resources of his country, particularly the military, are stretched very thin.
"We are a nation who on the one hand has been fighting the evil of terrorism; on the other, we are now having to deal with a natural calamity of gigantic proportions," Haqqani said.
"I had a very useful meeting with the members of the First Presidency," he continued. "President [Thomas S.] Monson was very kind to assure us of further support as we move along. What we have already received from LDS members is something we appreciate and value and cherish."
Latter-day Saint humanitarian supplies are reaching Pakistan with the help of four international partners.
"We are pleased, frankly, to be able to join with others throughout the world to provide support to those in Pakistan who have experienced this tragedy," said Lynn Samsel, director of Humanitarian Services for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Church members have donated 400,000 pounds of humanitarian aid. The ambassador says the supplies speak of building bridges between faiths.
"The people of Pakistan, predominantly Muslim, welcome the support they are getting from our brothers of other faiths, especially the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Haqqani said.
Haqqani explained that flood waters initially washed over one-quarter of Pakistan. The Indus River, Pakistan's largest, and one of its tributaries, the Chenab, are now one river that spans 30 miles wide and covering thousands of villages.
"Many of them are small, subsistence farmers anyway, so they are now totally dislocated; and now they'll go back and they'll have to start from scratch," Haqqani said.
The ambassador said the flood waters are receding now, but with so many millions of people displaced no one can say how long it will take to rebuild their villages or replant their farmland.
Haqqani said he also spoke with President Monson about temporary field hospitals, a continuing supply of food and medicine and water purification devices.
He also said the differences in faith do not count in this emergency, that Christians helping Muslims should send a message to extremists that their ideology is wrong.