ISLAMABAD Appreciating the UN Secretary Generals close personal engagement in the rescue and relief operations in Pakistan on behalf of the people of Pakistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Thursday that his flood-devastated country needed immediate foreign aid to cope with the humanitarian crisis. We do need international assistance, we need international assistance now, he said this while addressing the UN General Assembly session in New York late Thursday night. He told the session, what a serious challenge Pakistan is facing at a time when the government of Pakistan has succeeded in building a consensus against extremism and terrorism. He pledged that his government would put in place mechanisms that are transparent and accountable to handle the international aid pouring in to the country. The General Assembly session was called to hasten the delivery of aid after a UN appeal for 460 million dollars made last week received only a little over half of the target. Qureshi said, What we face in Pakistan today is a natural calamity of unprecedented proportions. According to the UN reports, the present humanitarian crisis in Pakistan is larger than the combined effects of Tsunami and the 2005 earthquake, Qureshi said. Mr. President, Pakistanis are a resilient people. We are no strangers to challenges and difficulties. This is a nation that suffered the ravages of the 2005 earthquake, and bravely bore the loss of 80,000 of our brethren, Qureshi stated. He especially mentioned sacrifices of Pakistani nation in the war against terrorism. Mr President, this is the nation that braced, with fortitude, the loss of thousands of its men, women and children to suicide attacks. We are the people that the international community looks towards as a bulwark against terrorism and extremism. This is the nation, Mr. President, which now looks towards the international community to show a similar determination and humanity in its hour of need. Qureshi told the world community that the situation in Pakistan was indeed critical and alarming. I stand before you as the voice of 20 million Pakistanis devastated by the floods. Who have lost their homes and hearths; their kith and kin; their lands and their crops; their lives and their livelihoods. One in ten Pakistanis has been rendered destitute. Twenty percent of our land is submerged in water, Qureshi said during his explosive speech made in the UN General Assembly. He told the world community that flood caused severe damage to the agriculture industry of Pakistan. Ours is primarily an agrarian economy. About 70 percent of our population is employed in agriculture sector. And this is where we have been hit the most. Over 17 million acres of agricultural land has been submerged. Standing crops worth billions of dollars have been destroyed, Qureshi said adding that the critical sector of livestock has been equally devastated. He said that over 3.5 million children are at high risk of deadly water-borne diseases while schools will not be opening soon after summer vacations, as they are being used to provide shelter to flood survivors. In Punjab, almost one million acres of cotton growing area is affected; and crops worth one billion dollars are destroyed. In the South, standing crops worth 1.2 billion dollars, over an area of 100,000 acres, face complete destruction in Sindh. In the North, over three hundred and twenty five thousand acres of land stand submerged; and crops worth 500 million dollars are destroyed in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province. While in Balochistan villages and towns are being inundated as I speak to you, Qureshi said. He feared that the situation is expected to get worse as the second and third waves of floods inundate more lands, and uproot more people. He said that the aftermath of the floods in the medium to long term would pose more daunting challenges. Mr. President, our difficulties do not end here. Our urban infrastructure will come under severe stress as millions of people migrate to bigger cities in search of shelter and jobs. Another serious problem, with long-term socio-economic implications, is the loss of land and potential decline in the arability of flood affected lands. The food security of the sixth most populous country in the world is at risk, Qureshi said. He especially mentioned the possible threats of food riots and said related violence cannot be ruled out. He said that the scale of the challenge is colossal, far too big for any developing country to handle alone. He hoped that the international community will come forward in all earnestness. We trust that we shall be provided with the much needed support to augment our national relief and rescue efforts. The people of Pakistan greatly appreciate the launch of $ 459 million Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan by the UN, for relief and immediate recovery of the affected people. We have also requested the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to assist the government of Pakistan in carrying out a comprehensive Damage Needs Assessment. We hope that it would be completed at the earliest, said the Foreign Minister. Qureshi said that the flood has hit Pakistan at a time when it is playing a role of frontline state against terrorism, which has so for claimed more than 10,000 innocent civilians. And more than 2500 Pakistani soldiers have sacrificed their lives. He said Pakistans losses in the war against terrorism stood at $43 billion. He told the world representatives that the massive upheaval caused by the floods and the economic losses suffered by the millions of Pakistanis must be addressed urgently. If we fail, it could undermine the hard won gains made by the government in our difficult and painful war against terrorism. We cannot allow this catastrophe to become an opportunity for the terrorists, Qureshi warned. At the end of his speech, Qureshi thanked to the world community for their attention. Mr. President, the sympathy and solidarity that I witness here today, from all of you, is very reassuring. I wish to go back to Islamabad with a clear message for the people of Pakistan that they are not alone in this hour of trial; and that the international community stands ready to support and assist them. We look forward to your help in undertaking the immediate relief measures; and addressing the long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation needs of affected people and areas, Qureshi stated.