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 childÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s eyes seem to be saying to me: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œYou should have done more. You all should have done more.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚?
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.