Forget NUST, our Baloch brethren need our help
NUST was the top trend on Twitter this week. 48 hours ago an earthquake of 7.7 magnitude struck Balochistan, the tremors of which were felt in Karachi and as far as Delhi. Tragically, over 300 people have died in Balochistan and according to The Express Tribune, 40,000 houses have been flattened.
All the while, Nust remained top trend on Twitter.
— The Express Tribune (@etribune) September 26, 2013
Most people seem to have forgotten that a tragedy far bigger than Nust’s dress code has struck Pakistan; either this or they don’t seem to care about the lives lost of their own countrymen. Instead of discussing relief measures over social media (which are very helpful in the aftermath of disasters), many are busy bickering over the Nust dress code saga. I understand that this is a source of frustration for most, but is it enough to divert their attention from the real tragedy that took place only yesterday?
— Meera Ghani (@MeeraGhani) September 24, 2013
I find the curfews and lack of 24/7 research & study facilities at #NUST a joke. How can you consider yourself a proper university?
— Talal Munzar (@tmunzar) September 18, 2013
— Samra Muslim (@samramuslim) September 23, 2013
When disaster strikes, the first thing we look at is how we can send aid with whatever resources we have at hand. At times like this, social media is a huge resource if we really utilise it.
In 2011, in Japan when an 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck, Twitter proved its worth in mitigating the disastrous effects. According to Tweet-o-meter, soon after the quake hit Japan, 1,200 tweets a minute were coming out of Tokyo. Twitter Japan also published helpful information both in Japanese and English including aftermath survival tips, evacuation information, and confirmation of safety of individuals etcetera.
Of course, Twitter is not the only platform one can use to help victims. We have many options available, but they can only be useful if we can take a good look at our priorities. Right now, venting our own frustrations seems to be on top of the priority list. This is a sad reflection of our own values (or a lack thereof). Nust may seem to be a more interesting topic, but does it call for our immediate attention as does the fact that our brothers and sisters in Balochistan are suffering by the minute?
— Shiraz Hassan (@ShirazHassan) September 25, 2013
So how can social media to actually help in a situation like this?
For a start, you could find out what NGOs such as HMIBF (Haji Mohammad Iqbal Baloch Foundation) are up to. Their website has a message for those wanting to help earthquake victims; the least that can be done is to share this message so that those with means to help can get the message and act accordingly.
You can also look into the efforts of other NGOs involved in earthquake relief.
— Patrick Fuller (@Pat_Fuller) September 26, 2013
If as a student or professional, you are aware of public health measures, please share them. You can even look into how Twitter or Facebook can help establish actual lines of communication, if possible, to get information from the affected areas.
— Shabbir Wahgra (@shabbirwahgra) September 26, 2013
Ultimately, it all comes down to empathy and of putting other peoples’ needs before your own; of responding urgently when help is needed.
Balochistan has always been to Pakistan the child of a lesser god. We need to show them that we care and that not only are they just Pakistani, they are our brothers and sisters too. If we truly mean it when we say, ‘We are Pakistani, we are one’, then let’s act accordingly. Let us do whatever we can in our power to help those in need.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.