Another Disaster
Vinod Anand | 30 Sep 2013

Another Disaster (Vinod Anand) At least 327 people have perished in a major earthquake that rocked a remote region of south western Pakistan, leading to the formation of a new, probably temporary, island in the Arabian Sea The havoc was experienced in the impoverished, sparsely populated province of Baluchistan and-there were reports that entire villages had been leveled to the ground. Although Pakistan’s army rushed 1,000 soldiers, helicopters, food and medicine to the area to cope with the disaster, of frightening magnitude, the rescue efforts seemed to be far less than the actual requirement. The death toll may shoot up-sharply as workers sifted through thousands of collapsed homes, many made of dried mud. It is officially conceded that that many quake affected areas are unreachable because they are located in remote areas, with few roads that could lead to them. Conditions are reported to be so bad that it IS a Herculean task to reach help to the distressed.’ With-hundreds of wounded reported, army helicopters were attempting to evacuate some patients to Karachi for treatment: Pakistan’s Red Crescent Society has also rushed to the scene, amid reports that tens of thousands of families may have been left homeless. Baluchistan, as is well known, has been unstable and largely isolated, for years because of an ongoing military conflict between security officials and Baluch separatists. The mineral-rich province has also become a safe sanctuary for militants and terrorist groups, including the Pakistani Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a hard-line Sunni militant organization affiliated with al-Qaeda. If an AP report is to be believed, one group of Pakistani security forces was fired upon, on Tuesday night while escorting a convoy of doctors to areas hit hard by the quake. That the militants were going to spare none, not even in this hour of natural calamity, shows the extent of brainwashing that they have, been subjected to rendering them insensitive to human pain. During the recent past, Pakistan has endured several catastrophes including a magnitude of 7.6 earthquake in the far north in 2005 that killed at least 40,000 people Five years later, 1,700 people were killed and more than million homes destroyed during severe monsoon flooding in the south. The exact number of casualties in the latest disaster and the losses suffered owing to the destruction of many villages can be known only after a final picture is available Reports indicate that this picture is going to be as gloomy as one can imagine, if not more. Right now, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who did not cancel his foreign trip despite the major disaster, is in New York for the U N General Assembly But he has assured from there that federal officials were trying to quickly assess the situation and dispatch needed resources. But won’t his absence from the country at this critical juncture further annoy the Baluchis who have already been proclaiming that they are being discriminated against while other regions are being pampered and favoured?     PAGE  PAGE 1