Flight ED202: Closer to home

Published: August 2, 2010

Mourners pay tribute near the Airblue Flight 202 crash site at Margalla Hills point in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

What made the plane crash of July 28 different from all the other numerous tragedies – suicide blasts, floods, the war in the north – to recently befall Pakistan? This is one question on many people’s minds. On the day of the crash at least 80 other deaths took place in our country. Deaths not related to the crash. Yet this one incident took precedence not only in media coverage – do reporters run to the houses of victims’ families after every suicide blast or drone attack? — but also in the hearts and minds of those around me.

The difference seems to be that we have learnt to quickly move on after hearing about the other tragedies. Maybe it’s because we have become immune to them and not giving them too much thought is a natural reaction, our mind’s defence and coping mechanism. After all, is it possible to be touched deeply by each incident without being perpetually depressed, feeling guilty, lucky, helpless, grateful, and yet have the will to deal with daily life, realising all its trivialities? If we were all too aware of our own mortality every second of every day would we be able to plan and think about our future?

Or maybe the answer is this: we cared more about the plane crash because we knew more people involved in the tragedy. As a friend’s Facebook status said, she was “amazed by how the plane crash tragedy puts the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory into a whole new perspective.” If we didn’t know anyone directly, we definitely knew someone who knew someone. A friend’s friend’s cousin. A business partner’s wife. The list went on. Add to that the fact that many of us had probably taken that exact same flight route several times ourselves, the it-could-have-been-us syndrome means it just hit closer to home.

Another friend lamented about how people were able to make the crash “all about themselves, how they felt, how it saddened them.” He put it down to narcissism. I put it down to human nature.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2010.


Saleha Riaz

An LSE graduate working as a sub-editor on the editorial pages of The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sadaf

    The six degrees of separation theory is so true. University fellows, friend’s cousins. colleagues sister, brother, aunt – I still can’t believe how many, I indirectly knew could be on this flight.Recommend

  • Sadaf

    No technical fault, a good condition air bus but it crashed. How? Who will answer this question. I think authorities should take it seriously. No blood relations but now whenever its rain its create a sad atmosphereRecommend

  • http://www.milk-n-cookies.blogspot.com Cookie

    So true. But it’s also really sad, in a way, because most of the people have neglected the greater tragedy that has occurred in the North. Flash floods killed more than 800 people and yet only a few are seriously concerned. Many more have lost homes and their entire belongings, desperately awaiting help from anyone who sympathizes with their situation. Sadly there are few who do. Recommend

  • Beenish

    Saleha that was so well written! Ever since the crash happened i’ve been looking for explanations of why i feel more for the victims in the plane rather than those, for instance, who lost thier lives in the bomb blast that killed Benazir, or those who died in the bomb blast on 9th or was it 10th moharram? (see i don’t even remeber the date!) And it made me feel guilty :( and cold hearted that i did not feel for the hundreds of people who lost their lives in bomb blasts, in the floods but i felt for those who lost their lives in the plane crash. What was the difference?? i kept asking myself. And reading this, i think i may have found some of the reasons. The article has been some consolation! Thanks a lot for expressing what i may have been feeling since the past 5 days, because i, for one, could not have done it so beautifully.Recommend

  • mariyah

    Really well written Saleha!
    I totally agree with you. When i heard about the crash in the morning I was upset but also a little indifferent to it. It was only when I found out the plane had people I knew that it turned into something completely indifferent. something ugly, something tragic and something totally unimaginable.Recommend

  • saher

    A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.
    Joseph Stalin (1879 – 1953)
    :( .. we are suffering from this behaviour. Recommend

  • Sultan Ahmed.

    Fake degree holder give the nation bad name in the world
    they are liable to sentence.Recommend

  • Sultan Ahmed.

    It is the national duty of all the political leaders
    to draw back money from foreign banks to Pakistan
    and spent on flood effected peoples,
    do not extend both hands before foreigners for charity.Recommend