Articles of the year 2005

A Salute to Pakistanis Nation
Published on October 22nd, 2005

The Calamity that hit Pakistan affected not just the Northern areas, but all of us in many ways. This area has supplied the largest number of workers throughout Pakistan, and abroad. The Construction industry bears silent witness to this fact. Most Building projects in Karachi are at a standstill the labour force back in their villages trying to make sense of the destruction to their homes, and the loss of their loved ones. Words cannot describe the magnitude of the destruction, though the TV coverage brings home the scale of the damage, and the imagination baulks at the scope of effort and assistance required to rehabilitate the affectees .

The Television coverage has been superb, and people in Karachi were riveted to their screens watching the drama unfold in realtime, courtesy of GEO and Ary just to mention the few who were on the scene first. Pres. Musharraf has to be congratulated for ridding the Nation of the Vise-like grip that the Bureaucrat held over the Media. Opening up the Air waves allowed us to witness the tragedy, and to see for ourselves the damage done, and the rescue efforts that were being made, to retrieve those still alive, or the bodies of those who had perished. The new TV stations have brought credibility to the Pakistani media, credibility that PTV had lost long ago. Not to mention that, their criticism of the Government agencies was equal to, if not more shrill than CNN or BBC.

This Media coverage triggered a fantastic response throughout the Nation. One had read of Pakistanis being amongst the most charitable of people in the World, but the manner in which the people from all walks of life came forward was heartwarming, and the speed with which it came about left the inadequacy of the network distribution hopelessly exposed. In all fairness, the distribution could never have imagined the need for such a large requirement of goods under such conditions. I was copied a text message " Just got back from Mansera and Balakot… we have setup tent hospitals in 2 of the worst hit areas.. also arranged emergency supplies to be trucked up… one truck leaves every two hours from Pace, Worldcall. Etc" This was received on Tuesday evening on the fourth day of the calamity! A truly remarkable feat, but it clearly shows the speed with which the private sector can move. The donations are pouring in, and one is proud of being a Pakistani and to witness such an outpouring of sympathy --- with donations from Pakistanis of all walks of life.

Earthquake itself, is an act of nature, totally unpredictable, and the tremors are only recorded after they have hit, and can never be forecast, not like a Tsunami or a Hurricane. The time given to evacuate the Margalla Towers was 45 seconds from when the tremor started, and in other areas probably less. However the response from the citizens was certainly faster than the US Government in the New Orleans flood. For some people to ask for an early warning system is just a waste of time, but the precautions we should take are in the construction of our buildings, and the quality of workmanship. In this area certainly we must ensure that certain standard are met. These standards have already an international mean and cannot be deviated from. All the high-rise buildings in Islamabad should be thoroughly examined and defects if any should be immediately analysed for causes ie materials etc.

The response from the Political parties has been particularly slow. Except for Imran Khan, and the MQM leadership, who were immediately making their presence felt from Day 1. Benazir Bhutto choosing yet another opportunity to snipe away at the Government, and with Nawaz Sharif's response slow at best, has shown very clearly that all the political parties are takers at best. Whether they take your vote or your donations or once in power your bribe, they are on the take. Now is the hour for them to come forward and give unto the needy. And so the Peoples Party has donated 5million Rs. Fully a quarter the value of her necklace at present with the Swiss Court—the one her mother would not allow her to accept!