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From the Editor: Akhtar Mahmud Faruqui

October 28, 2005

A Race against Time

Oh, I am very weary,
Though tears no longer flow;
My eyes are tired of weeping,
My heart is sick of woe.
- Anne Bronte

Death stalks the northern parts of Pakistan. The idyllic surroundings of Muzaffarabad, Balakot and Mansehra, home to many a simpleton Jude and Tess of Hardy’s pastoral world, have been struck by a 7.6 earthquake and reduced to rubble.
The loss of life has been on a colossal scale. More than 80,000 have already died. And the death count is likely to mount as wintry temperatures drop below the freezing point. Shaken and distraught, Pakistanis inhabiting Kashmir and the NWFP find themselves precariously perched. Scantily dressed kids, weary old men and women, and middle aged common folk scamper for shelter in tents and improvised dwellings. Exposed to intense cold their survival is seriously at risk. They could freeze to death if speedy rescue is denied. It is a race against time.
The United Nations Secretary General has sounded the alarm bell. The situation is getting worse by the day. The second phase of the disaster – which could be marked by death by freezing – could be worse than the first. More than 3.5 million people have been rendered homeless by the earthquake and their survival is a pressing concern. The world has to act with expedition. Snowfall and accompanying chilly winds in the next few days would spell death and destruction for the Kashmiris and the affected people of the NWFP.
The catastrophe has forced NATO and UNCHR to mount the first-ever joint operation to ferry aid from the UN agency’s warehouse in Iskenderum to the quake-stricken area. Secretary General Kofi Annan has asked member countries of the United Nations to raise $400 million for the immediate rescue of the quake victims.
The October 8 earthquake has not only jolted the northern areas of Pakistan but the entire country. From Karachi to Torkham Pakistanis have responded spiritedly. From all parts of the country rescue teams and volunteers have converged on the quake scene with relief goods. Each passing day furnished fresh proof a nation visibly seized of the mounting challenge and charged with the urge to rescue fellow Pakistanis.
Overseas Pakistanis have also proved equal to the task and have contributed generously to the relief effort in cash and kind. Pakistani Americans are no exception. Glued to TV sets, teary-eyed community members witness images of the destruction and the plight of their kith and kin. They responded to the challenge with spontaneity and whole-heartedness. Several medical teams have dashed to the ravaged areas to set up emergency hospitals.
The rescue task is elephantine. Rehabilitation of the affected people and reconstruction is estimated to cost $5 billion. Each one of us has to contribute to this effort. The relief operations must sustain their momentum. Pakistanis – within and without – have to heed the stirring call:
Ham zinda qaum haen
Paidna qaum haen
Ham sab ki hae pehchan
Hum sab ka Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan
Hum sab ka Pakistan

- afaruqui@pakistanlink.com

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 pakistanlink.com . All Rights Reserved.