Saturday Exposed the Rulers, Crowned the People
October 13: School children, as thousands of others, were crying
for help from beneath the rubble, but people mourned and prayed
in helplessness as they waited in vain for more than two days
for any rescue operation. And the story of death, destruction,
incompetence and misfortune does not end here as death toll continues
to mock official understatements.
reports from far-flung areas invariably suggest that no one has
gone to the rescue of the victims, even after 55 hours, except
one or two big towns or unending aerial surveys. However, many
"fortunate" buried under the debris of Margalla Tower
Apartments in Islamabad were rescued, thanks to the efforts by
Rapid Rescue Force sent by the UK and media focus on the capital's
are people protesting? Whom should they curse? The nature? The
State authorities attuned to killing, not rescuing? Or beg for
forgiveness from the Almighty? Find fault with our own un-preparedness
and a flawed course of "development"?
in the past has such a natural calamity struck Pakistan with such
ferocity and at such a scale. The Black Saturday's earthquake
has brought widespread destruction, around the epicenter of the
quake, in the Hazara division and Kashmir killing thousands people
and destroying most infrastructure and houses leaving more than
three million people homeless, according to rough estimates.
State that failed to mobilize its over-pampered machinery to rescue
its citizens in their time of distress is not, perhaps, capable
to even estimate the depth and breadth of the destruction. The
State machinery equipped with all kinds of weapons of mass destruction
and attuned to coercion and killing could not have the heart to
have ever thought of contingency plans, nor had the time to prepare
in advance to meet such a contingency. (The MET Office has still
not been upgraded, even after the Tsunami. Whatever up-gradation
that is taking place leaves much to be desired)
course, it was too sudden, as all earthquakes are. But look at
how clumsily the Government has responded? It has failed to undertake
any rescue operation, except in Islamabad and Muzaffarabad. It
was 30 hours late in making an emergency call to the international
community and asking for the right equipment.
showed its insensitivity towards the people by first declaring
a relief fund of one billion rupees and, subsequently, five billion
rupees with which you cannot even reconstruct Muzaffarabad and
compensate its victims. The concerned citizens, and thank God
in their millions, who have promptly responded, do not know how
to reach out to the victims.
Emergency Center established in the PM Secretariat or PM House
has only one telephone line (Sic!). It took one day to announce
a three-day national mourning. It's better to say nothing about
the government's continuing misjudgment of the havoc. How can
people bear with such a ruling lot that is so insensitive to the
misery of the people. That is why people are protesting in the
worst calamity hit areas which have, otherwise, always been neglected
in terms of development.
encouraging is the response from our illustrious people, who in
their thousands flocked to the areas of destruction. While the
authorities in the capital were sleeping, these were the common
people who with their bare hands were trying hard to do the rescue
work. Almost whole rescue and rehabilitation work in the far-flung
areas is being done by the people in grief.
by the way, where is our national leadership? Will it come into
action only to politicize on the corpses of our dear ones? The
State exposed its omnipotence in the time of urgency. Where did
they disappear who can takeover a whole country in a matter of
a few hours? It was not difficult to move, even on foot, the battalions
stationed in Hathian or Abbotabad to Balakot.
we must thank the United Kingdom, Turkey, China and Japan for
their prompt response. But where was the patron of Non-Nato ally
whose choppers are still awaited from next door Afghanistan? And
these peanuts of 100,000 dollars speak for their 'friendship'.
When our own Government announced one/five billion rupees for
relief work, the international community is not expected to throw
money. Since the devastation has taken place across the LoC, one
expects both India and Pakistan to create a new chapter of cooperation
for the rehabilitation of the oppressed Kashmiris.
doubt, this bloody earthquake was worst in its magnitude at a
Richter scale of 7.6, which is so far the highest, in its intensity
but much lower than being forecasted by international seismic
agencies. The experts have long been warning of serious earthquakes
in this region and forewarned of tens of times more powerful that
could kill a million on the Ganges plain or southern flanks of
the Himalayan, where last Saturday's quake has struck.
these forecast in our region, and they can occur anytime, it is
imperative that we prepare for the worst in advance. All infrastructure
and private reconstruction in the probable epicenter of possible
quakes will have to be undertaken while keeping this in mind.
You have to have earth-moving machinery and necessary equipments
that are equally good for reconstruction and evenly spread out.
While the whole physical infrastructure has to be reconstructed,
alternative means of transportation and communication needs to
be built, such as helicopter service.
on the immediate demands of rehabilitation work, we must concentrate
on the reconstruction of the whole devastated region. A major
chunk of the development budget should be diverted to these areas
and a master plan should be made to rebuild it. After failing
to rescue our people from the rubble, we must not let negligence
impede the reconstruction work. And most importantly, save the
rehabilitation fund and reconstruction work from the swindlers
gathered at various levels.
is a greater need to set sound standards for the construction
of infrastructure, houses and plazas. It is not enough to punish
one builder, who must be. We have seen a mushroom growth of plazas
that have not been built according to the safe and required standards,
such dangerous buildings should be identified and brought down
to avoid further human tragedy.
one must ask, how can we reconstruct and rebuilt? Who are we --
who do not have a right to elect or throw out our rulers? And,
in the absence of this fundamental right, how can one ask anyone
to resign for negligence? A nation which cannot make a foot-constable
accountable has to suffer the unbearable.