Wednesday, October 12, 2005


In The Wall Street Journal, Russell Seitz puts the Kashmir earthquake in perspective:

Mountains like the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush will go on rising whether borders or empires stand or fall, and the erosive force of the Indus River will sweep away whatever the angry earth throws down as the tectonic plates continue their collision. Saturday's quake was as powerful as the one that leveled San Francisco, but one of these centuries the rafting together of the Asian and Indus plates will rock the subcontinent with quakes a hundred times stronger, as it has before. It may take a harder shock than Saturday's to persuade the subcontinent's capitals to recognize that, partition notwithstanding, they are in the same tectonic boat. The region's conflicts may seem intractable, but the Earth is ever patient in its diplomacy. The civilizations of South Asia have a half-billion years' grace in which to resolve their age-old differences before the slow tectonic violence that has put fossil seashells atop Everest crumples Ceylon--unserendipitously--into the mountainous seashore of Tibet.

And here we thought (listening to establishment voices in India's neighborhood) that Pakistan was really one with Arabia -- and Sri Lanka with South-East Asia!!!


libertarian said...

PR, seems this quake might be the 'tectonic shift' we've been hoping for. Maybe, just maybe, this will spark the imaginations of the people to force their largely unimaginative representatives to forge a common destiny as opposed to a fratericidal one.
On a more tactical note, I wonder if India can help out with the 2.5 million refugees coming out of this quake.
Best regards.

Anonymous said...

From the Dawn

By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, Oct 11: Following criticism from opposition members of what they called a poor foreign response over Pakistan’s earthquake disaster, the National Assembly on Tuesday passed a unanimous resolution seeking more “technical and financial assistance from the international community”.

“This house appeals to the world community for financial and technical assistance to carry out relief and rescue activities in the (earthquake-) affected areas effectively,” said the joint resolution, read out by MMA’s Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, minutes before deputy speaker Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob adjourned the assembly until 10am on Friday.

Through the same resolution, the National Assembly expressed solidarity with the victims of the massive earthquake that struck various parts of the country on Saturday. “We pray for those who have been killed in the earthquake and early recovery of the injured persons,” the resolution said.

Earlier, the National Assembly suspended normal proceedings on the private members’ day to hold a debate on the ongoing relief activities in the earthquake-hit areas.

People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPP) MNA Aitzaz Ahsan criticized the government for declining India’s offer of helicopters to carry out relief activities in the quake-affected areas. He said the helicopters had no religion. “When will we become a welfare state from a security state?” he asked.

Mr Ahsan ridiculed the quantum of assistance so far provided by the United States, saying Pakistan had put its national security at stake for those who had some 8,000 helicopters in Afghanistan but provided only eight to Pakistan.

Similarly, he said, Saudi Arabia had some 10,000 helicopters in its fleet but had not extended any help. “Where are the Muslim countries? Where are Saudi Arabia and Egypt?” he asked. However the PPP MNA praised Britain for immediately sending a team of experts to rescue people from the debris of a collapsed apartment building in Islamabad.

Mr Ahsan also regretted official announcements over the media describing 300 troops killed by the quake as martyrs and calling over 20,000 other people as only “killed”. This, he added, showed the mindset of the rulers.

He called for signing a crisis management agreement between the seven member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to meet such disasters in the future. He also stressed the need for reactivating the civil defence organization in the country and for providing training to citizens to meet emergency situations.

Health Minister Nasir Khan said 25,000 to 30,000 people had been killed and 45,000 others injured in this national tragedy. He said Pakistan would seek help from India if and when needed.

The minister told the house that France and the United Arab Emirates had also offered to send helicopters for relief work.

PPP’s Naheed Khan said the natural disaster was not unexpected as Islamabad and other areas hit by the earthquake had already been known to be in a seismic zone. Similarly, she said, Karachi and other coastal areas faced the same threat.

Ms Khan said a military general had admitted that they had failed to reach the Neelum and Leepa valleys. She ridiculed a statement by the Peshawar corps commander that not more than 1,000 people had died in the NWFP.

She said the collapse of just one building in Islamabad had exposed the inability of the government to deal with emergency situations.

MMA’s Hafiz Hussain Ahmed said the opposition had expressed its solidarity and complete support to the government in this hour of need but the other side had not responded in the same manner.

He asked how the government could show unity of the nation when the NWFP chief minister was not allowed to board a helicopter with the provincial governor? He said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz should have taken opposition leaders with him in the helicopter to demonstrate solidarity.

The MMA leader said the Crisis Management Cell existed in the country, but it was performing duties of picking up people and handing them over to the US.

Pakistan Muslim League (PML) MNA from Lahore Farooq Amjad Mir called for speeding up the rescue and relief effort in the affected areas. He said only two months were available to rehabilitate the people as many stricken areas would become inaccessible after winter snowfall.

The PML MNA drew the attention of the house to the fact that all those buildings constructed by government contractors had collapsed in the quake-hit areas.


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