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.

15 Comments on “Picture of the Day: Forgotten”

  1. Sohail says:
    October 5th, 2006 10:15 am

    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:
    October 5th, 2006 10:21 am

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

  3. Naveed says:
    October 5th, 2006 10:35 am

    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. October 5th, 2006 11:17 am

    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. October 5th, 2006 11:26 am

    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:
    October 5th, 2006 12:27 pm

    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:
    October 5th, 2006 1:47 pm

    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

  8. franz says:
    October 5th, 2006 1:54 pm
  9. PatExpat says:
    October 5th, 2006 3:43 pm

    Its a human tendency, more so in present time than earlier, to move on. When some one, a nation or a country, faces a calamity; there is an outpouring of charity and generosity. After a while, we move on leaving the relief work to government agencies or NGOs. However, its the charity organizations who do the real work, who stay on, who distribute aid without discrimination or corruption or bribery.

    The same was true for Hamas, the largest charity organization in Palestine operating schools, clinics etc. You might call them a terrorist organization but the work they have done for the people brought them into power. Hizbullah follows the same strategy. The news papers are filled with stories of pace of relief work carried out by Hizbullah in Lebanon. Though the west may dislike them or brand them a terrorist organization and will not be but flabbergasted when Hizbullah would return in elections as victorious. They might not like to talk to them as they don’t like to talk to Hamas, but the fact is these are the only organizations that help the people without corruption and bribery or discrimination.

    Its been one year and despite government’s claim of excellent relief effort, news reports are filled with people still not getting aid, stricken in make shift arrangements, government dragging its feet in shifting them to a new city (of all the talk of new settlements for survivors of Balakot, no spade work has been done) and BBC Urdu reported that government representatives are requesting bribes for accepting relief claims. Which is the most efficient organization. The islamic charities.

    They are managing aid, schools and clinics. The government can make tall claims but the ground reality is that islamic charities have really impressed people with their outreach. So after a few years, when we have elections in those areas, we will see a resurgence of islamists whether you like it which will be akin to the resurgence of Hamas and Hizbullah.

    And in a few years, there will be talk of Talibanization of Kashmir. But the fact is they would have earned their place in people’s heart.

  10. Abbas says:
    October 5th, 2006 8:08 pm

    Most reports from the ground suggest that international aid pledges have not been fully met and reconstruction is severely behind. if this winter turns out to be bad then we should be ready for a second wave of disease and death.

  11. TURAB says:
    October 6th, 2006 1:34 am

    while praying for the departed souls and people living in pain…. we must salute our army personel and all those people who came to help from the outside …. to all those people who donated …..God Bless Us ALL

  12. October 6th, 2006 7:03 am

    My family was in Abbottabad when the tragedy strucked, they are still in PTS disoders. As far as I know there are some small international organisations who are still engaged in helping the local people of Balakot and Muzafferabad. I got to know a girl at Bremen Applied Sciences University, a registered registered volunteer with local German NGO left her studies and went to help the people there and I mention that later it was she who stood with me and 2 other Pakistani students to collect the funds. We three Pakistanis were begging the other Pakistani students to raise funds with us but none was there to join our team as they did not want to miss their classes.

    They were Tukish girls who were ready to help us to cook food. And there was one Indian friend Ravi who sold the food with us, though his other indian friends stopped him to help in name of Pakistan.

    There are some Trekkers from Germany and Switzerland who are engaged with other Germans and Swiss volunteers to help the earth quake victims. They are busy giving their services for various projects of their organisation; first aid help, medical attendance, protection from winter and building school. For more information you can look at the site and if you can read German then do read the (daily updated) Diary from the team in Pakistan. There is a young german student Annette Töpfer who was there for 2 months and though she got sick but still she wanted to finish her work before leaving the place. And now Jens Sommerfeldt is came back to carry on the projects.

    There are plenty of non Pakistani organisations who are engaged in N.Pakistan and its the local people who are participating with them.

    Lots of funds had been given from Muslim countries thats another story that Western Media did not show it. Talking about funds I should ask you that if possible kindly give your Eid Fitrana to organisations like Alpinclub Sachsen e.V. who are devoted and still engaged in helping the vistims. Please alawys confirm where your charity will go. People in Germany can give their Eid Fitrana to http://www.alpinclub.com/hilfsaktion-spenden.html
    and if you earn alot then please give more than the Fitrana. Country like Cuba sent 789 doctors to Pakistan last year while and Pakistani doctors were 600 who were engaged in helping the victims, so we should learn from the dedication of all these people.

    As many trekkers are pretty much involved to help victims of earthquake, I was also thinking how about writing a post on trekking in Pakistan? Who would like to do that?

  13. Babar says:
    October 6th, 2006 11:59 am

    I would like to share a moving story. Last October, right after the earthquake, an army officer who is a good friend of mine went to
    the impacted area to help. Miraculously he rescued a 2-3 month old baby girl from the rubble … this was about 72 hours after the earthquake. The baby needed medical attention. Luckily there was a helicopter available and she was flown to Islamabad. The hospitals there were in chaos .. fortunately my friend’s wife is a doctor and she took care of the baby. Today that baby girl is a healthy and happy child.

    I saw this child when I went to Pakistan a few months ago. I admired her courage and strong will which shows through her eyes. I thought about her destiny and how my friend was able
    to help save her life. We can all make a difference in a survivor’s life … there is lot of opportunity if we care. As Adil mentioned the silent misery of the living is relatively easy to forget. Let’s setup reminders in our calendars to avoid this.

    I hope this blog will continue to nudge us to action.

  14. chandio says:
    October 9th, 2006 12:54 am

    we are not good at remembering what we should remember. read today about earthquake affectees protesting about bribes.

  15. July 4th, 2007 3:27 am

    im restless to heared about huge natural disaster

    i mean earth quake i will do better for my pakistani

    sisters and brothers who are victumed by

    8th october earth quake

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