Delays in Pakistan Earthquake Aid
- Indispensable Ally in the "War on Terror":
Pretty Dispensable When it Comes to Relief Aid
Junaid Ahmad (Williamsburg)
11 Oct 2005
Pakistan has just suffered its most horrific earthquake in nearly a
century. At the time of writing the estimated number of dead and
injured is 40,000 & 70,000, respectively. There is a high likelihood
that these numbers will increase as more and more villages, towns, and
buildings are discovered to have been razed to the ground. Stories of
several schools with young children being wiped out by the sheer power
of the earthquake make all of us following the situation tremble at
the unthinkable thought.
President Musharraf of Pakistan has declared his country's need for
support at this hour. It was rather unusual hearing these pleas from a
man who tends to mask himself as a knight-in-shining-armor in no need
of anyone's help and more than willing to tell those who question or
advise him to shove it. Of course, this is only a veneer that cloaks
the reality of his hyper-machismoism against some - like women's
rights groups - and his meekness against others - Uncle Sam.
And so there are some initial pledges of aid to Pakistan: The European
Union has pledged $3.6 million, Australia $380,000, and the UK
$177,000 and a 60-strong team to help with on-the-ground work. What
about the country for which Pakistan took a complete "U-turn" in its
whole framework of foreign policy after 9/11, for which Pakistan was
an indispensable ally in the "war on terror," for which Musharraf had
himself experienced at least two assassination attempts, and for which
all types of ideologies - such as "enlightened moderation" - have been
cooked up to serve the needs of the neo-liberal Empire? What about the
United States and its generosity to its dear friend Pakistan? A paltry
$100,000 is our answer.
Granted that this amount probably will go up (let's keep our fingers
crossed) for PR reasons, in a similar fashion to the US response to
the Asian tsunami, but this buying on the cheap of certain allies
whose services are required by the Empire is nothing new. So-called
allies that are more aptly described as client states or puppets
needn't be concerned about whether or not they'll be compensated;
rather, they should simply do as they're told or look at the Vietnams
or Cubas of the world to figure out what the penalty for disobedience
will be. The US consistently pressures the Pakistani regime, like it
has done and continues to do to other regimes, to take positions and
actions contrary to the wishes of the overwhelming majority of its
population. Musharraf's attempt to help his friend Bush out in Iraq by
sending troops was so scandalous and contemptible that he simple
wasn't able to pull it off. However, something as deeply unpopular -
the "normalization" of ties with Israel - he does think that he just
might be able to pull off if rendered support from well-placed power
centers in Washington and at home.
It will also be interesting to see how some of the gulf Arab states
respond to this enormous crisis of a fellow Muslim "brotherly"
country. The outrage is still held in the hearts of many who noticed
how the governments of Kuwait, UAE, and Qatar quickly pledged one
hundred million dollars each (and Kuwait an additional $400 million in
free oil) to the US in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,
but did not show the same alacrity or generosity in their response to
the far greater Asian tsunami, and only forked the cash from their
purses when their "honor" was put in question by many, including the
majority of Muslims, who found their stingy reaction repugnant.
Whatever one may think of the politics of such cozy relationships
between the US and unaccountable governments in the Third World, the
story seems to be a simple but sad one. The regimes of these countries
offered the friendship of the US outlived their real life expectancy
in power by many years, thanks to US support. Washington's assurance
of adhering to the principle that stability and its geo-strategic
interests requires keeping the Musharrafs and the "petrol station"
monarchies of the Middle East in power, and the heavy weaponry and
arming-to-the-teeth this necessitates, has allowed these illegitimate
governments to fare quite well. But as this devastating earthquake in
Pakistan has shown, even if their governments are close allies of the
US, the peoples of these countries should be under no illusion of
getting anything positive out of this "friendly" arrangement. In the
majority of the cases, with neo-liberalism and militaristic
Empire-building on the march, the results are in fact quite the opposite.
Perhaps embarrassing Washington and the Gulf Arab states is
unfortunately what is once more required to get more crumbs from their
massive treasuries and limitless personal bank accounts. Let us hope
and pray, for those affected by this disaster and future ones.
PAKISTAN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF
Ayub Medical College/Teaching Hospital
Allah says (English language paraphrase of the actual Arabic language
"Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some
loss of goods or lives, or the fruits (of your toil) but give glad
tidings to those who say when afflicted with calamity TO ALLAH WE
BELONG AND TO HIM IS OUR RETURN, they are those on whom (descends)
blessings and mercy from Allah and they are the ones that receive
guidance." (Surah Al-Imran: Ayat 155-157)
Please note that 4 articles follow:
*`Goods being wasted due to mismanagement'
*Goods are there but no system to distribute it
*Islamist cleric slams slow Pakistan quake relief
*Quake delays: Many lose limbs
`Goods being wasted due to mismanagement'
By Rashid Javed
October 15, 2005 Saturday Ramzan 10, 1426
ABBOTTABAD, Oct 14: Relief goods, especially food items and medicines,
collected by individuals, organizations and donor agencies are likely
to go waste due to lack of planning and mismanagement as every one is
rushing to Balakot and other parts of Hazara to provide much-needed
succour to the quake-affected population.
There are hundreds of vehicles lying stranded on the roads to the
quake-affected areas, resulting in hampering the relief operation and
blocking the way for ambulances to ferry the injured to hospitals and
shifting of heavy earth-moving machinery to the affected areas.
Most of those providing relief goods are simply throwing them on the
roadside, which is sad indeed.
The government has requested all donors to either deliver these goods
to the relief centres and camps or to those organizations which are
working in a planned manner like the Abbottonian Medical Association
which established a relief camp on the first day at the Ayub Medical
At least more than a 100 volunteers who include doctors and students
are working at the Disaster Cell established by the Abbottonian and
the Ayub Medical College Boys Union.
The Abbottonian along with the Ayub Medical College Union has
established the first camp at the Ayub Medical Complex to cater to the
needs of a 1,000 people where the injured and their families are being
They had collected medicines worth Rs1 million from different sectors
and had dispatched 10 medical teams in all earthquake-affected areas.
A special website has been created called http://www.amcrelief.com ,
which is providing all data and details regarding the demand for
medicines, orthopaedic equipment, tents, blankets, etc.
Dr Noman Siddique, secretary of the Abbottonian Medical Association,
said that worldwide response had been received as countless
organizations and donors from Canada, Italy, USA, Austria, Japan and
other countries were dispatching relief goods.
He said that one of the donors had dispatched 30 fibre-glass rooms to
be used by those affected by the earthquake.
The Abbottonian Medical Association has brought some of the country's
leading organizations under one channel which includes the LUMS and
Hidya Foundation Karachi. Besides, Red Crescent, World Islamic Relief,
Rotary International, Japanese donors, Liaquat National Hospital
Karachi, Fatima Memorial Trust Karachi, Shalimar Hospital Lahore,
Shaukat Khanum Hospital Lahore, Hussani Blood Bank Karachi, Welfare
Hand Peshawar, Chughtai Laboratory and Services Hospital Lahore are
also cooperating with it.
Provincial Minister for Health Dr Inayatullah Khan while addressing a
press conference at the Ayub Medical Complex said that to reach all
the earthquake-affected areas of the NWFP two helicopters of Save The
Children were being utilized and medical teams had been dispatched to
Alli, Battagram, Paras and Banta (Kaghan area). He said that local
health care centres had been established where patients were being
He said that three camps would be established: one each at Abbottabad
(by the Abbottonian Medical Association), Balakot (by the Unicef) and
Battagram (by Save the Children).
The provincial minister said that vaccination in all the affected
areas has been started.
Regarding the accommodation of patients, he said that around 2,500
patients had been accommodated at different hospitals of Hazara while
with the help of the Sheikh Zaid Hospital a 400-bed hospital was being
established at the Post-graduate College Mansehra. He said that there
was sufficient accommodation at Haripur, Peshawar and other places.
He said that till date 17,040 injured had been treated in different
hospitals of Hazara division and a total of 12,252 operations had been
carried out by at least 30 teams of doctors (both Pakistani and foreign).
He said that 65 ambulances of NWFP government hospitals were being
used while 100 of private organizations, especially Edhi Foundation
and Al-Rashid Trust, were being used.
About the organizations which were cooperating with the Ayub Medical
Complex, he named the Unicef, WHO, Save the Children, Italian Support
Agency, Dewan Salman, MSF (Doctors without Frontiers), KAI Japan,
Estonia, Jinnah Postgraduate Karachi, Pakistan Medical Association,
Pakistan Islamic Relief Association, Pak Orthopaedic Association,
Al-Khidmat, Sheikh Zaid Hospital, Sindh Institute of Urology and
Transplantation, Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Cardiology Institute.
The minister said that meetings of these organizations were being held
daily and the situation was being monitored by the NWFP government on
a daily basis.
He said that besides a short-term programme, a long-term
rehabilitation programme was also being planned for which directives
had been issued.
Goods are there but no system to distribute it
By Khawar Ghumman
October 15, 2005 Saturday Ramzan 10, 1426
DHIRKOT, Oct 14: Relief goods have started reaching the quake-
stricken areas in Azad Kashmir but not to the people because no
organized system exists to distribute it. Consequently affected people
in remote villages continue to spend freezing cold nights in the open
and without any relief.
Dhirkot, one of district Bagh's tehsil which has a total population of
60,000 people, is yet to receive relief goods. So far the relief
efforts had been focussed on urban centres such as Muzzafarabad,
Rawalakot and Bagh.
Even suburbs of these three district headquarters have not yet
received the attention of the government and the private sector relief
People who are voluntarily taking relief goods to the devastated
region just follow media reports to determine where to go. As a result
most of the rural areas in the earthquake hit districts remain
neglected and keep waiting for the help.
Civil Medical Officer (CMO) of Dhirkot, Dr Iqbal, talking to Dawn
said,"those who have luckily escaped this killer earthquake will die
of the cold". "Besides earthquake victims, I have started receiving
pneumonia patients, people suffering from fever, cold etc, which could
be only the tip of the iceberg as winter season has already set in,"
said Dr Iqbal.
In response to a question, Dr Iqbal said,"we don't need eatables, we
only need tents, because it is increasingly becoming to sleep under
the open sky".
Within next six weeks, the region would start receiving snow fall and
during December to February one can hardly move outside the residence,
The tehsil level rural health centre, which had existed for the last
so many years in name only, became active only yesterday.
Despite repeated reminders, there was no response from health ministry
in Muzzafarabad and on the first day when the earthquake struck.
"In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, I had to stitch wounds
with regular thread and needle, use people's clothes as bandages
because the centre was virtually without any kind of medicines," Dr
During a visit to Mohra and Bughsar, two major villages of Dhirkot
tehsil, one saw people living in makeshift tents, which they had made
by stitching used plastic sheets together.
Only one house in 100 withstood the force of the earthquake. All
others were totally or partially destroyed. No one dares to sleep
inside, as they fear another earthquake in the coming weeks. there
will be another such an earthquake. Raja Mumtaz, 70, sat on a ridge
looking at the ruins of the three houses in which his large family of
22 members lived. He mused whether he would be able to build new ones.
"All my family, two sons and one daughter were happily living in their
homes, but on that tragic day, we lost everything," he said.
Now the entire family lives in a makeshift tent, waiting that some
day, they will receive proper tents from the government. A neighbour
of Raja Mumtaz told Dawn the survivors did not put much faith in the
promises of relief.
"Every day we hear news that the entire world is sending money for our
help. So far we have seen none of it," he said.
Mr Mumtaz also accused the local influential people of manipulating
whatever relief had reached the area. "We do see trucks coming to the
area, but nothing reaches to us," he said, adding,"military or the
civil government should coordinate the efforts so that supply should
reach deserving people".
Islamist cleric slams slow Pakistan quake relief
By Aamir Ashraf
14 Oct 2005
MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan, Oct 14 (Reuters) - A prominent Islamist cleric
in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir accused the government of responding
too slowly to help survivors of last weekend's earthquake and
criticised looting of aid supplies.
A 7.6 magnitude earthquake killed more than 25,000 people last
Saturday, most of them in the Pakistani part of the disputed Himalayan
region of Kashmir.
About 1,200 people were killed in Indian Kashmir.
Survivors in the devastated region waited several days before relief
efforts got under way and some looted relief supplies.
There has also been some looting in the devastated capital of
Pakistani Kashmir, Muzaffarabad.
"Relief provided to people has been very slow, the government should
act fast," Abdul Ghafforullah, the main cleric at a mosque in central
Muzaffarabad, told a thinly attended Friday prayer in front of the
office of the region's prime minister.
The mosque where he was speaking was badly damaged in the quake but
half of it is still standing.
A small group of about 40 worshippers gathered in a large hall with
badly cracked walls and roof and broken windows.
During his sermon a clock over the entrance smashed to the ground,
startling the congregation.
Ghafforullah denounced looting as shameful.
"The world is helping us, but what are we doing? We are looting their
trucks," he said.
The looting of shops, houses and officers where bodies were still
buried under debris would lessen the world's sympathy for the plight
of divided Kashmir, he said.
"We should be ashamed of such an acts which are giving bad names to
Kashmiris and the Kashmir cause all over the world.
"If we continue such acts no country in the world will come to rescue
us, no country will support us on the Kashmir issue," he said.
Mostly Muslim Kashmir has been divided since soon after the
independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, when the two counties
fought their first war over the region.
India controls the Kashmir Valley and its main city, Srinagar, while
Pakistan holds the western part of the region, including Muzaffarabad.
Virtually all Kashmiris agree that their region should be reunited
while some want it to be fully under Pakistan, some want it to be part
of India and others want it to be independent.
Elsewhere in Muzaffarabad few mosques held Friday prayers.
At at least two mosques clerics were standing at the gates and urging
people to attend, but most hurried on their way.
One cleric trying to draw people into a mosque near a sports field
that has been turned into a relief camp said the earthquake was God's
"It's a warning from the God to the rulers," he said.
"It's God's punishment for our sins, for the sins committed by our
rulers. It's also a warning that there could be more if we continue on
this path," he said, apparently referring to non-Muslim ways.
Quake delays: Many lose limbs
Rawalpindi - Riffat Nazir nearly escaped into the open when the quake
brought the two-story mud house in Kashmir down around her, trapping
the 13-year-old's right leg under the frame of the front door.
It took three days for her family to dig out their dead and give them
a proper Muslim burial, and three more before they could transport the
girl to a hospital near the Pakistani capital where doctors had no
choice but to amputate.
Dozens of victims of Pakistan's worst earthquake have lost limbs
because of delays in getting the injured from isolated villages to a
place with proper health care.
At Rawalpindi General Hospital, where Nazir was recovering on Friday
from the operation to amputate her right leg below the knee, surgeons
have performed more than 200 major operations in the past six days,
mostly patients suffering crushed limbs.
Helicopters have transported a flood of patients from the quake zone
to the north, where few hospitals were left standing after last
Saturday's 7.6-magnitude temblor.
Gangrene sets inRawalpindi's three main hospitals and three others in
nearby Islamabad have been choked by the crisis.
"The patients are coming late and gangrene has set in to their
wounds," said Dr Kamran Saeed, an orthopaedic surgeon who had
performed eight of the 25 or so amputations carried out at Rawalpindi
General in recent days.
"You cannot save the leg or arm. You have to save the life of the
Injured people stranded in remote villages of the mountains of Kashmir
and many outlying areas - where thousands have died - have seen no
They have often had to rely on relatives carrying them for hours on
foot to have a chance of survival.
Riffat's mother, Rahila Bibi, said that in their village of Hollian,
all 60 houses were felled by the quake, killing about 100 people.
Bibi lost two sisters and more than 25 of her relatives in all. Two
other sisters were injured and are still stranded in the village.
'Everything is destroyed'
"The house was demolished. The cattle are dead, and we have nothing to
Everything is destroyed," said Bibi, who wiped her tears from tired
eyes with the coloured shawl that was coiled loosely around her head.
Locals using simple tools and their bare hands toiled six hours to
free Riffat from beneath the heavy baked mud and timber of the simple
It took another three days more to locate all the family's dead
relatives and bury them quickly - regarded as a spiritual necessity
Finally, six villagers helped carry Riffat on a charpoy - a
traditional rope-matress bed that sits outside many homes in rural
Pakistan - to the nearest town on a narrow dirt road blocked by
landslides - a journey that took 15 hours.
After that, they travelled by vehicle for another five hours to the
main city in Pakistan's part of Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, where after a
day's wait, a foreign helicopter brought the girl and her mother to
the hospital in Rawalpindi.
A day later, she was operated on.
Now Riffat is recovering in a bed, with donated blood dripping into
her veins from an IV bag and a gray teddy at her bedside.
She'll spend the next two weeks at least in the hospital, and when the
wound has fully healed in six to nine months, she'll be fitted with a
Flow of patients slowing
All but the gynaecology and paediatric wards at Rawalpindi General
have been devoted to the quake emergency - the hospital's most testing
crisis since 1988, when an ammunition dump in this garrison city
exploded, killing hundreds of residents.
While the flow of patients slowed on Friday compared to previous days,
beds for arriving quake victims were still spilling out into the
Doctors, assisted by medical students, have been working around the
clock, grabbing sleep when they can.
Saeed said that generally the emergency care given to patients brought
from the quake zone had been "excellent", although sometimes overtight
bandaging and tourniquets by inexperienced medics - without clinic and
hospital buildings to work in - have made things worse, obstructing
the flow of blood to a wounded limb.
So far, the hospital has treated 947 patients from the earthquake, of
which only two have died, said Dr Shahzad Rehan, the medical
He expected more amputations would be necessary as others victims like
Riffat finally arrive at the hospital's door.
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