Are we doing the right thing? Notes inspired by a Relief Camp Visit

The hollowed walls of a school to be have now been converted to a make shift relief camp. The media would have screamed about the incompetency of such a place, which neither has no electricity, no gas, no running water, and no sanitary arrangements. They would have you believe that they are being treated worse than animals and that the government has proved to be completely incompetent in making their stay enjoyable.

But lets be honest to ourselves, they really didn’t live in a house that had electricity, gas or running water, their lives were just as much hard, if not more than what the images are showing now. The only true thing that we can mourn about is the lose of their homes where they must have made several memories, the loss of their crops on which they must have worked everyday from twilight to dusk, the landscape of their villages that must have changed forever. Anything more than that is simply an exaggeration of the their condition based on our standards.

Yesterday, in the hollowed halls of that school, the spirit slowly faded down as a sudden realization dawned on me that maybe we are not doing anything good for them. Our efforts have been simply to enforce further the idea within them that they have nothing, while we are the blessed one. Our efforts are simply making life easy for just a moment, when in reality, in a few months after they return to their homes we would forget about them and they would know that their lives have nothing.

The spirit vanished as the smells of nausea, disgust, took over me, the spirit vanished after seeing the yet-not-functional bathrooms covered with human discharge. I wanted to throw up, or at least run away. So I diverted my attention to something else. I, for that brief moment of visit, became their official entertainer. Seeing a camera around my neck, the kids decided to pose one after the other. They touched my lens, they made me take their pictures, and then saw the results, only to bring back their friends and showing them their images to their jealous friends. It was a welcome distraction!

Here are the faces of the Flood!

To see the full stream of pistures, please see my Flickr Page.

Why would the International Community trust us again?

The 2005 earthquake was a devastating blow to Pakistan. The rehabilitation was estimated to take many years to come, and the cost of which was estimated in billions of dollars. The response of the international community at the time was over whelming. While the initial extent for us regarding the disaster was limited to Margalla Towers, it was the international community that truly understand the scale of the devastation and reached the areas of Balakot and Bagh.

This time around, however the response has been slow and limited. It doesn’t even come close to what we saw the last time around, and that is understandable. A news item published today in Dawn might be able to put some light on to this issue. The funds and the aid received during the crisis was conveniently diverted to other projects. The amount, estimated to be around 300 billion pounds, was never seen by the victims, and were left to sought their own fate.

This incident occurred during the regime of a military ruler, but thanks to Selective Amnesia that our media seems to be a patient of, no hype has been created of this event. And with the way things run in this country, it is not surprising that it would never come up.

The distrust of the International community is also reflected by the fact that this time around instead of trusting the Government with the Relief they are taking it upon themselves to come and monitor the aid work. David Toole, UNICEF’s regional director for South Asia will be coming to Pakistan for a week-long official visit to monitor the relief work himself. Continue reading

Pakistan Disaster = History in the making!

The year was 2005, it was the month of Ramadan, the disaster in the light of the present conditions now seems to be of a lesser magnitude, but it wasnt so at that time! The Government and the Civilian Institutes were weak then and are much weaker now! And at that time the situation was used by the Jamaat ud Dawa for its advantage, and there is no doubt that they are going to do the same again. And if the report published in the Independent is anything to go by, then they already are!

In a country where from the media to the Government Officials to the average bloc sitting at home staring at his TV Screen seems to be having some form of Amnesia, it is not very surprising that no one is thinking along these lines. In a country where only the Military and its trained elements, including its very own trained Jihadist like the members of this banned organization, are the most organized, it is not surprising that their relief efforts have been able to cover more ground than the Governments.

All they want is some relief from the misery that they are in. They don't care where it is coming from!

And the people who are suffering, do not really care where the aid is coming from. They can not be bothered to think about the politics and the Impacts of this situation on the years to come. They simply want an end to what they have been going through. They simply want food and clean water, and they are not the one that would be checking the labels of where the food is coming from.

But if any one of us had been able to recall what we had already witnessed in the valleys of Swat, we would have been on our toes. We would have known that it is moments like these that are used for public sympathy and for your own propaganda and promotion. And the Jamaat ud Dawa knows that this is once more an opportunity for them. Continue reading

You know you are too bored….

  1. When you are checking your friends friends list to find a cute face…
  2. When you are constantly hearing imagining you cell phone ring.
  3. When you are reading the entire thread of 56 comments on someone’s status on FaceBook
  4. When you are reading every single editorial column published in the Newspaper
  5. When after getting done with the Editorial you are reading the Real Estate Page.

    The height of Boredom (Image from: http://9gag.com/gag/13938/)

  6. When after getting done with both the Editiorial and the Real Estate Page, you are browsing through car ads, when though you don’t need one or can even afford one!
  7. When you are deciding the menu for a party that you are supposed to throw a month later.
  8. When you finally decide that you should clean your room
  9. When you are making up random list to prove to the entire world that how pathetic youf life is getting!

The Floods that wouldn’t stop!

We have yet to see the end of the recent floodings that have hit Pakistan quite unexpectedly. Described as one of the worst disasters that the world has ever seen, worst than the Tsunami, worst than the Haiti Earthquake.

Two weeks in to the disaster and already 3 million people have been effected and more rains are expected soon, which could just mean more hardships for the people. The floods and the rains was more than anyone could have imagined, and was is one of the major reasons why the relief efforts could not be as quick as was the need of the hour.

The flood is of a massive scale, and tackling with it also requires a massive scale effort, and the institutions and organizations are just not in place to make that possible.

The media is all over the place. they have been having a heyday with this disaster, where they can play their blame games, and have Opposition Leaders over that could discredit the Government. More so, the emphasis on the role of the Great Armed Forces and the way our “Jawans” rose for the occasion is almost delirious.

The Pakistan Army being called to assist in the Flood Relief Efforts

All of a sudden this emphasis on the army is very disturbing, and suspicious at the same moment. the recent fiasco of the President going for his European Tour and the ISI Cheif cancelling his own tour has already igniated a wave of suspicion and the words “Martial Law” are being brought up in every Drawing Room conversation. These words are a very dangerouse thing, especially for a country for whom “Democracy” (no more how faulted) is a rare concept.

The Government efforts are being completly dismissed and ignored, while the Army remains the main focus of our media. I mean wouldn’t it be wiser to consider that it is the Government that calls the army? And the army works on our tax money, just like the Government and the people sitting in the Parliment does. So why is it that the Army is better than our Government?

Are we to expect that the latest propoganda about the army and its efforts and it rescue’s is all part of a preplanned intervention that would be forced upon us? Or is it just another way to discredit the Democratic Government? Should we expect a change of faces?

The army is more or less has have had a say in what happens in this country,

The recent from the land of the Pure!

This week, for anyone who is living in Pakistan has been full of a lot of downs. It has been full of tragic news, of a state of trance and utter bewilderment. Hardly any of us got a chance to breath as one bad news after the other came

Margalla Plane Crash

through.

If the shock of the Plane Crash wasn’t enough, we were then surrounded by the tragedy of the Flooding in Khyber Phaktunkhwa. And then was the ultimate man hunt that is taking place in the city of Karachi. Since the death of the MQM MPA Raza Haider, Karachi is literary burning. And although I know that the families of the people who crashed would finally move on, and I know that the villages and the towns and the cities that came under the wrath of the Flood would be able to rebuild, and start all over, but what I don’t know when is this going to stop in Karachi! For how long are we going to act dumb and pretend that we don’t know who is doing this and who is responsible?

For those of you who don’t know the story of my city, let me tell you in brief what is happening here. There is “Ethnic Cleansing” going on in the city of Karachi. The Muhajir are simply killing the Pathans – an ethnic group belonging to the province of Khyber Phaktunkhua.Pathans make up one of the major chunk of our economy, including the construction and transport sector.

At the moment, they are being labelled as the “Talibans” and under that cover they are being “Targetted”. But things are never as simple as they seem. The Land Mafia is a growing phenomena in the city, and at the moment it is the Pathan’s that seem to be doing it dominantly. This is not to say that they are the only one doing it, it simply means that they are the one most highlighted at the moment. And in a city which is considered the fort of the MQM, this is not acceptable!

These muhajirs that are making these accusations and acting upon these prejudices seem to have forgotten their own history. Most of them sit and live in areas that they encroached and then had converted to a legal status. Why is it then that the Pathans would not follow suit?

And once more Karachi burns....(Photo from:http://focus-fen.net/index.php?id=n227194)

Is it really any mystery who is doing it? An MQM leader dies and since then the city burns! Are we really that naive to pretend we don’t know? Since the death of the MQM MPA, buses, rickshaws, Mobile Markets, Stalls, Shops, Trucks, all of which belong to Pathans have been burned. Last night an interesting sms was making the rounds in the city. The message was along the following lines

If you want to keep the city safe, then you should discontinue all sorts of contacts with the Pathans. Otherwise what is happening in certain areas would spread all around the city.

After any such event, I always wonder does this propoganda really works? Do people really start looking at every Pathan as a possible threat? I know I always think that! Whenever a Pathan passes me, I think does he think that I have this hate inside of me for him just because of his identity? Does he think that I would want him dead? You can never know what is going on in the head of a person.

The flags are up! We are celebrating 63 years of Independence, but what do we have that we are celebrating? Tragedy, Minority Killings, Religious Fundamentalism, Ethnic Targetting? On the eve of this Independence day, we would be almost 150 years behind from the rest of the world! What is there to celebrate?