Rehabilitating the affected
08 October, 2013
The earthquake of 2005 was an unforgettable trauma for the Pakistani nation. It was one of the worst calamities in our history. The aftershocks of the initial 7.6 magnitude earthquake affected 80 percent of Punjab and 70 percent of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Thousands died and millions became homeless. The Margalla Towers in Islamabad collapsed. The government was initially slow in relief activities, which were delayed due to lack of equipment and skills. However, the public response to the disaster was heartening. The people of Pakistan, regardless of their faith, caste or creed, united in their efforts for relief and rehabilitation activities. We saw massive support campaigns, locally and internationally. Governments, organisations and individuals came forward to help the affected in cash and kind. The calamity united the Pakistani masses. Wondrous tales of sacrifices and philanthropy emerged out of the tragedy. People from as far as Karachi came to help their misery-stricken countrymen.
October 8, 2013 marks the passing of eight years after that devastating earthquake. A lot has been done for the rehabilitation of the affected but more is still required. The emotional scars will take time to heal but for that, physical support and assistance should always be there. On this day, we should find out about the current condition of those who went homeless after the disaster. Have they received what had been promised to them by the government? What is the current situation of orphans, the widows and the handicapped? What happened to the new Blackout city? We should know what the state of our disaster management and recovery preparation is now. Have we learnt any lessons after the collapse of the Margalla Towers? Do we have the required equipment and skills available to deal with similar situations? If not, then we are sitting ducks, as usual.
M OSAMA AFNAN HANAFI