This is an insightful piece by The Australian which avoids the usual stereotyping and tries to delve deeper into the Pakistani disaster. PTH views have also been quoted – glad to note that we are being heard – Indeed, the Pakistanis and the world must wake up. Raza Rumi
BEFORE US senator John Kerry flew to Pakistan, he told reporters he hoped to help the world understand that the disaster was not just about floods. Continue reading
The colossal humanitarian tragedy and the imminent economic meltdown, will now shape a new Pakistan or rather, exacerbate its predicament in the months and years to come. Pakistan’s chronic political instability, structural economic constraints and a warped national security policy are all going to be affected by the unfolding drama of the national disaster, perhaps the severest, in the country’s history. Whilst the challenges have snowballed within a short duration of ten days, the response of the Pakistani state and society underline extremely dangerous trends and make us wonder about future of the country, as we have known it for the last 63 years.
Pakistan had reverted to quasi-democratic rule after a decade of dictatorship in March 2008. Since the resumption of the electoral process in February 2008, the traditionally powerful unelected institutions, had acquired both legitimacy and unprecedented powers. The power troika of the 1990s had transformed into a quartet comprising the army, judiciary, the media and the civilian government which was represented by a ‘discredited’ president who has been a constant punching bag for the unelected institutions of the state.
Thousands are dead and injured and millions are displaced due to the floods. The national reaction to this calamitous situation has been that the president should have cancelled his visit to the UK. The president too has not been sagacious. But the debate is frivolous and sidetracks the real issue: our sheer lack of preparedness for natural disasters and emergency management.
Five years ago, a massive-earthquake rocked Pakistan. Later, several institutions such as the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) were set up to deal with natural calamities. While it would be unfair to critique the good work done by the NDMA, it is clear that centralised authorities and relief machinery are of little use in a populous, diverse country like Pakistan.
In the last five years, as the recent floods indicate, the state has done little to galvanise and decentralise disaster preparedness and management. Between 2005 and 2010, the magnitude of natural disasters was not large enough to expose the inherent weaknesses of the emergency infrastructure. As before, Pakistanis have come forward and an unprecedented civic activism and volunteerism can be seen in reaching out to victims of the floods across the country. Continue reading
I am grateful to Khurram Siddiqi for his timely and rather chilling account of what Lahore underwent this evening. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Lahore tragedy. Raza Rumi
Today, two bombs struck Allama Iqbal Town’s ‘Moon Market’- a place that I remember from my childhood when our family used to visit Lahore- many members of which, at the time, lived close to. My cousin Usman was actually at a store in the market when the blast went off, and survived by some miracle. He came home shocked and changed from a full grown man- into a tepid young boy again; he said that he had just witnessed hell itself. I was taking a nap since I’ve been sick over the last few days- and woke to the sound of a cacophony of ambulance sirens; I now live almost across Jinnah Hospital. The bomb went off in Iqbal Town; I’ve tried to illustrate where all of this happened on the map here:
View Moon Market Blasts in a larger map
I walked across to Jinnah Hospital’s emergency ward- not that I condone people amassing together when they shouldn’t be there- but I wanted to capture some of the sounds of the aftermath of mass murder. What you’ll hear in the audio linked below is police officers trying to get people to clear out (I was standing clear of the entrance)- and make way for an ambulance that was about to pull in. Audio Link Continue reading
The Supreme Court of Pakistan has summoned General Musharraf to explain why he dismissed the court and imposed “emergency” rule in 2007. One can only wonder what the good general will say but one thing is for sure, the Army will probably not be forthcoming in allowing its former chief to be dragged into court. The next few weeks are going to be interesting.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court today ordered former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to appear before it next week to explain why he imposed emergency rule in 2007 and sacked about 60 judges. Continue reading
By Nita Bhalla
NEW DELHI – Aid workers struggling to help hundreds of thousands of war-displaced people in Pakistan are preparing for even greater challenges as the army looks to expand its offensive against Taliban militants to the border with Afghanistan.
The month-long operation against insurgents in the picturesque Swat Valley and other parts of the northwest has caused one of the largest internal displacements in recent times, with around 2.5 million people forced to seek refuge in camps or with host communities. Continue reading
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
In an attack that was apparently sectarian in nature, 30+ people were killed in suicide bombing in the once peaceful Chakwal District of Punjab.
Pakistan’s very existence is now on the brink. Will we continue to look for scapegoats or will we now take stock of the situation. The Frankenstein monster created by our government to fight Soviet Union in form of Afghan Jehad and its local Sipah Sahaba variant which was created to counter the Shiite Islamic Republic in our neighborhood in 1980s has now pinned us down. Continue reading