Stories about 2005 earthquake

The Bahawalpur inferno victims were not reckless jahils, but simply desperate citizens of Pakistan

The aftermath of disaster is often pervaded by catharsis, and as human nature would always have it, the pressing propensity to find appropriate scapegoats and pass the blame. As I write this merely days after the heinous tragedy of the oil spill on KLP road, it is instantly plain that those who perished in the incident are the ones being held unanimously responsible for the same. But why? Because even as an oil tanker carrying 40,000 litres of fuel overturned whilst making a sharp turn on Sunday morning, it did not immediately unleash the inferno that followed. First, the inhabitants of the nearby village of Ramzanpur ...

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A place to call home: An entrepreneur’s journey to bring community to Pakistan’s poor

When the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) first started to share the words of the Quran and spread Islam, he was forced to flee his home of Mecca due to persecution. He, along with the Emigrants who had left their homes behind for the sake of their faith, found refuge with the newly converted Muslims in Medinah. These Muslims — known as Ansar, or “The Helpers,” — embraced Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Emigrants as their own, providing them with food, shelter and security. It is this spirit of generosity and brotherhood that led Jawad Aslam to create Ansaar Management Company (AMC), an Acumen investee that provides affordable ...

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Lest We Forget about the calamities of nature

“Hmm… good caption,” I opened a journal lying in my cupboard bearing the title ‘Lest We Forget’. It was a diary from 2011, printed by a corporate institution. The journal was dedicated to the valour of 20 million people affected by the devastating floods in Pakistan in 2010.  Each separator of the diary told a different story, both photos and narrative reliving the tragic episode. There were tales of compassion, accounts of faith, legends of misery, and sagas of determination. From Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to Sindh, there was a weak humanity photographed facing the disastrous wrath of nature. Pakistan suffered the worst floods in 2010 – a calamity much greater ...

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Earthquake 200(1)5: Are Pakistanis mobilised best when calamities are of colossal magnitudes?

A 100 plus schools and almost 9,000 houses have been demolished in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) alone, and even official figures show that the death toll is bordering on 300 people. Calculating the number of the injured and incapacitated is not difficult to calculate. The earthquake that shook Pakistan on October 26th was not a small calamity by any means. Yet, apart from sporadic sightings of a couple of relief camps, Pakistanis are not mobilised like they were at the time of natural calamities that hit the country in the past. The initial wave of sympathy seems to have dissipated sooner than usual. The very nation which prides itself ...

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The reality of Pakistan through Brandon Stanton’s lens

While Pakistani fans of Brandon Stanton were posting warm and welcoming comments on the Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page, the power of pre-conceived notions and assumptions about Pakistan was evident in the contrasting rude and dismissive comments. Some of them called Pakistan “that wretched country” and threatened to give up on being fans of Brandon if he visited Pakistan. Photo: Screenshot And so it has been. Pakistan, a beautiful country, inhabited by a vibrant nation, is often seen globally as a monolithic entity in which only extremists and bigots live, and where only bad things happen. It is seen as not ...

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Why Malala is not a western puppet

I have always heard about how summer days and winter nights are exceptionally long in Norway. However, it was not until I visited the Scandinavian country myself that I understood the magnitude of their duration. A beautiful country on the whole, the drastic differences in the lengths of its days, as compared to Pakistan, took me a while to adjust myself over there. I was invited by the 14 August Committee to visit Oslo and meet Malala Yousafzai, who was also visiting the city at the time. When we reached the Oslo international airport, the other committee members and I were told to wait ...

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Shiver me timbers!

Drop, cover and hold on. That’s what’s taught during an earthquake drill. Most of us would have known that had we rehearsed it either at home, the workplace or at school. Instead of disaster preparation, we believe in the response phase of emergency. And what was our response to the April 16 tremors felt across Pakistan? Panic, scream, freeze or run towards the nearest exit without any strategic plan in mind. Lucky we were, but it won’t take long before Lady Luck disappoints us when we’re most vulnerable. Take the example of the 2005 killer earthquake that struck the northern regions ...

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Celebrating 10 amazing years in Pakistan

It has been ten awesome years since I started working and living in Karachi, Pakistan. It’s a strange realisation that I have never lived longer in any other place my whole life. I arrived in March of 2003. It was the start of the Iraq war and one can only imagine the concern my parents felt when I told them I was moving to Pakistan. Their apprehension has not faded (they get daily reminders of the horrors that Pakistan is exposed to) but they have now accepted that this is my home. Obviously I was also quite uneasy at first, and to make matters ...

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Lessons from the Japanese tsunami

At exactly 2:46 pm on March 11, one year to the Japanese tsunami, sirens wailed through the skies to mark the first anniversary of the events of the horrible day. Trains stopped, work stopped briefly as mourners bowed their heads in prayer for the victims. Measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale, it was the strongest ever recorded earthquake in Japanese history, claiming approximately 19,000 lives, with thousands still missing. A year later, as reconstruction work continues and debris is removed from the cities — giving the Japanese landscape some semblance of normalcy — things are still not near or close to ...

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Japan: Where are our manners?

While Pakistan’s business and political leaders have been lining up at the Japanese embassy in Islamabad to sign the condolence book in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami that has affected that country, nobody seems to be willing to back up their words with a cheque or two. This seems rather impolite, especially when one considers the fact that Japan is one of the largest donors to Pakistan. Direct financial assistance from Japan to Pakistan is relatively minimal, but considering how much Japan donates to Pakistan through multilateral agencies, total financial flows from Tokyo to Islamabad are estimated ...

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