Friday, July 30, 2010

God is giving terrorists a tough competition (Update)

  (Image Credit: A.Majeed, Associated Free Press)

Reading Pakistani newspapers is being awash in tragedy on an almost daily basis. Everyday someone dies, in freak road accidents, suicides, plane crashes, robberies gone wrong, political violence, gang warfare, terrorist attacks, stampedes, flooding....and the list goes on. As Ahsan points out, there is scarcely enough time to for the media and the blogosphere to catch a break. We don't have the luxury to digest tragedies and make sense of them.

Over the past four years, news reports have been  inundated with reports of militant violence, first on military and police personnel and then on civilians. Rarely a day went by without  bombs going off in crowded marketplaces, mosques full of worshippers and residential areas. Overtime we figured out a way to cope with this. We cursed the organizations that participated in these mass murders, blamed the government for its inaction, remained glued to our TV sets and prayed like hell. Somehow we got on with our lives.

This week however, we are facing tragedies of a different nature. The first is the crash of Airblue Jet ED202 in the Margalla Hills of Islamabad  which killed all 152 passengers. The second is the flooding in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region and Norther Balochistan which has killed 430 people and affected more than a million. And the worst is yet to be over.

The situation surrounding these two incidents is full of unknowns. We don't know what caused the crash in the first place, was it the weather, pilot error or engine/mechanical failure? We don't know who to blame for the floods; the central government for not investing more in rural infrastructure, the corrupt politicians who use public money to line their own pockets, the majority of Pakistanis who don't pay the taxes needed to provide important services which could have prevented this disaster/saved more lives or God, who decided to make it rain so much in the first place. (I'm gonna go with God, this way I won't have to take any responsibility). We don't have any idea of the damage done or how long it will take. And the biggest of all: We just don't know how to deal with this.

P.S. The title is shamelessly plagiarised from Fahad Desmukh's tweet. All the credit goes to him

Update I: (11:56AM Eastern Standard Time), as of now more than 2.5 million people are affected by the flooding of the Swat and Kabul rivers. The death toll has risen to 1,100 with reports of cholera outbreaks. There have been a few videos released showing the rescue efforts and the extent of the flooding

Islamic Relief UK has posted a series of videos from Nowshera which has become a refuge for flooding victims

Here is a Guardian interview with an aid worker in swat who did not wished to be identified for security reasons:


There have also been reports of hoarders and profiteers charging exorbitant prices  for essential goods. There are also fears of more flooding as the levels of the Indus river at Guddu and Sukkur barrages are rising significantly.  

The Guardian is providing important minute to minute update on the situation here