Picture of the Day: Forgotten

Posted on October 5, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Disasters, Photo of the Day
Total Views: 33255

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 responses to “Picture of the Day: Forgotten”

  1. Abbas says:

    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.

  2. PatExpat says:

    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.

  3. 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

  4. 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?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.