Posted by sepoy on October 13, 2005 · 3 mins read

When earth is shaken with a mighty shaking/ and earth brings forth her burdens,/ and Man says, 'What ails her?'/ upon that day she shall tell her tidings/ for that her Lord has inspired her. [Qur'an, XCIX].

My mother told me, "Earthquakes happen because God punishes the Earth". I was confused. To take that at face value meant to anthropomorphize the largest object conceivable to me. Did the Earth sin? What was her sin? Did she lie to the moon? Steal from Mars? Sleep with Saturn? Worship the Sun? I wondered that for a long time - until the concept of Earth settled down and the concept of God became problematic.

Some are saying around the Pakistani press that this zalzala is a punishment. A wake-up call. Some are not so sure. Others are hoping that this will bring India and Pakistan closer. Still others wonder if jihadists are the one to suffer in the long run. There are numerous attempts to give meaning to this tragedy; to render it human. What else can we do when the aftershocks are still rattling Pakistan? Where else to turn when the aid is insufficient? Who to blame? Perhaps like Katrina some thought, even at this early stage, needs to be given to the response.

Jawaid Chaudhry in Daily Jang writes about his search for coffins in Rawalpindi while hundreds and thousands lay buried in rubble in Mansera. He writes that there is no coordination between the various provinces; that there is no federal mandate for help; that ordinary citizens are doing extraordinary things while the government walks around in a circle. All this while PM Aziz wants reporters to focus on the positive aspects of 4 million homeless. Yes, Sir. The government is doing nothing besides photo ops. Every day, dignitaries gather to present checks and have their pictures taken, he reports, as the aid operations come to a stand still. Here are some photos for you, Mr. Prime Minister.

He concludes: "Lastly, this tragedy has proven that our nation is alive but our state is dead. Hence, from this day forward, only the people of this nation will carry this country, save this country and run this country". Sounds like a plea for democracy to me.

This is being written in the biggest daily of the country. You can imagine what the un-filtered reaction is. As usual, The General's response blames the media: "The president called for avoiding mud-slinging, which he called “a sign of defeat” and added: “We have to face the situation with self-confidence and cool temperament and this should also reflect in the media.”

Perhaps the earthquake shook more than the earth. Perhaps it shook off the false pillars holding The General in power: economic prosperity, protection for the commoners, accountability, international relevance. Can Musharraf survive this earthquake?

In the meantime, please visit the Lahori Metroblog for on-the-ground reports.


Danial | October 13, 2005

I have heard news that Mushahid Hussain talked about construction boom when talking about reconstruction of affected areas. Importantly he is senior vice president of PML(Q) and he is very close to the Chodhry family. There had been soem reports about Chodhry's son making money in fake real estate and construction boom. And you can see these greedy people sharpening their knives over the rubble. It reminds me of a story by Manto, Thunda Gosht.

emullah | October 13, 2005

Thunda Gosht! ran chill through my T-Bones. My God. These people are really nasty. I am already hearing worries and news of actually Thunda Gosht type callousness as many young women are helpless without families. The vultures are already out there waiting for their prays. Where people like Musharaf make comments Rape is a business then his power players may start finiding business opportunities in this catastrophies. May Allah help the poor of my nation

emullah | October 13, 2005

I understand that you dont want any comments on your personal drive. Goodluck! I will update the info in my Edhi Foundation blog part.

nisa | October 14, 2005

A 'sign' isnt always a manfistation of Wrath or Punishment. Sometimes, it is a test, among many, sent to help us reflect, remember, refine, and perhaps sometimes repent on our actions? The ones who've passed away are martyrs (victims of earthquakes,floods, etc..) and the ones who are left behind (broken families, relatives, and the spectators, mainly us) are left to decide how long we'll remember this sign before returning to our pseudo-real lives. Any person of reason and the smallest atom of mercy or good manners will realize that the victims of this tragedy deserve our love, compassion, and kindness -- not lectures.