Picture of the Day: Forgotten

Posted on October 5, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Disasters, Photo of the Day
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Adil Najam

October 8 will mark the one-year anniversary of the horrific earthquake that hit Pakistan and parts of India and Afghanistan in 2005. Much has changed in that year. But not enough.

We at ATP have written a few times about the need not to forget what happened on that day and, more importantly, to not neglect what still needs to be done (here and here). We should have done more. Whenever I look at this picture, this child’s eyes seem to be saying to me: “You should have done more. You all should have done more.�

One should, of course, acknowledge that this tragedy brought together Pakistanis together in dramatic and heart-moving ways. Tragedies always do that. This did so not only for Pakistanis in Pakistan but also for Pakistanis abroad. The international community was also forthcoming. Much was done by all. But not enough.

As many had feared, people got busy. Got distracted. They forgot. For at least 9 months now op-ed pages in Pakistani newspapers – let alone international ones – have said nothing about the quake at all (here). That they have forgotten the dead is understandable. But that they have also forsaken the surviving is not.

In the days to come, we will hear about the earthquake again. We will be reminded of the devastation it brought. We will be reminded that 2 million people still remain homeless. The importance of reconstruction will be stressed. The blame-game will recommence. Pundits in the West will lament how this is creating more extremists. The government’s supporters will tell us what a great job the government did. Their opponents will cry hoarse about how this is one more thing where this government failed.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, will say that we must not forget the events of October 8, 2005. And then everyone – nearly everyone – will do exactly that. Forget.

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15 responses to “Picture of the Day: Forgotten”

  1. Sohail says:

    Thank you for this heartfelt message. It is very moving. And very true. The picture in the message and at top of page are so very powerful and hanting. I just keep staring at them and thining of what you wrote. Did we do enough?

  2. Yahya says:

    I like the header very much. I just wish there were less pixilation as someone else pointed out here as well.

  3. Naveed says:

    for those in pakistan, the earthquake is imprinted on our collective pysche…and this incident will never be erased from our memory. pakistanis are a giving nation and people will continue to contribute towards charitable organizations active in the earthquake-striken areas..for many, this incident defined a peculiar pakistani behavior of reaching out to help in a way that one had never witnessed before

  4. Adil Najam says:

    Naveed, you are exactly right that Pakistanis are a giving people (self-promoting plug:that is why the title of my forthcoming book is “Portrait of a Giving Community, Harvard U. Press, 06). I would only add that this was actually NOT the only time such solidarity and generosity was witnessed, indeed it was witnessed many times before, including after the terrible floods in then East Pakistan. I would also add that this generosity was not restricted to Pakistanis in Pakistan. Those abroad showed similar behavior and in my research I estimate the net giving by Pakistanis in USA to Earthquake related causes in the immediate 3 months after the event to be to the tune of Dollar 100 million. More importantly MANY people, especially doctors, just left their work here to go to the affected areas to help in whatever way they can.

    I say all this and mention it in the post also becasue it is VERY important. Having said it, however, the fact is that the plight has also been forgotten in another way. It is totally off the op-ed pages, for example. Yesterdays Oxfam report shows similarly disturbing trends. This too is not unusual. The same is the plight of Tsunami victims. People have lives to lead. governments have politics to mess with. Things keep happening. More importantly, mass death pulls at peoples heartstrings, but the silent misery of the living does not.

    NONE of this is to debase the honest generosity of people. Nor is it to blame anyone.It is only to bemoan. And maybe to remind us all that those who diedwe can now only pray for. But those who survive – including the million plus homeless – we could still make a difference in their lives. Maybe the fact that the anniversary comes in the middle of Ramzan should be an added reason to think of those for whom every day is still a struggle.

  5. Request for the more web saavy people here on this “pixelization” issue please.

    First, what is “pixelization” (apologies from this non-techie)?
    Second, can you please suggest what can we do to solve this issue that some people are experiencing?

    Much of the page is usually done on a Mac (on Safari and Firefox browsers) and on higher res screens. So the problem does not show here. Rught now I am in Geneva and using MS Internet Explorer 6 on a higher quality screen, and again there is no problem. I have tried it on Firefox browser (downloadable free on right bar) on various systems and it gives great results. Sometimes on Windows machines I have noticed that the quality of the pictures and even text goes really bad. Could someone please suggest what, if anything, we can do at our end to resolve that? Help will be appreciated.

    if you have any ideas please email them to us directly at pakistaniat@gmail.com . Thanks.

  6. ayesha says:

    Pertinent and timely reminder. Just a thought: does anyone here know of a compilation of ngos/relief groups that are still active on the rehabilitation front and looking for volunteers?

  7. Naveed Siraj says:

    Adil, of the several channels in Pakistan, I would like to mention one called “AAJ” (especially the host Mr. Talat Hussain has done several shows from the Northern Areas, some live & done brilliantly)

    And the service/benefit this coverage provides is hugely beneficial to keep the memory of the incident fresh and people are alive to their responsibilities & surely aid will increase during the holy month. i wish you had access to some of these channels (could be pertinent for your book etc.) for example the show they had on yesterday focussed on how women’s problems are unlikely to be addressed completely because society being male dominated i.e., leaves the decision of medical care to the man of the house; despite the fact that immediate care givers are women, women suffers are denied access to medical aid due to social stigma associated with field hospitals having male staff etc. similarly when immediate medical needs are talked about then it is the physical aspect of the disease for which help is available. counseling is available only the larger pockets where concentration of refugees is high. according to the female medical worker, 50% of the women suffer from depression and remain traumatized to this day

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