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Subject: MUSHARRAF and the QUAKE...
bullseye    11/7/2005 4:33:33 AM
In an interview on November 4, 2005, President General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan criticised what he described as the double standards of the international community in its humanitarian response to the recent earth-quake in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and some areas of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). He expressed his unhappiness over what he projected as the inadequate international response to the natural disaster in Pakistan, as compared with what he described as the generous response to the tragedy caused by the tsunami across South-East and South Asia last December. He insinuated that this was due to the fact that whereas a large number of Western tourists holidaying in the tsunami-affected countries were killed, the earth-quake in Pakistan has killed hardly any Western tourist. Thus, in his perception, the aftermath of the tsunami received greater attention in the West than the aftermath of the quake. There were more human fatalities caused by the tsunami (over 100,000 in Aceh in Indonesia, over 20,000 in Sri Lanka, over 10,000 in South India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India and over 5,000 in Thailand) than by the earth-quake (over 73,000 in Pakistan and about 1,400 in India's Jammu & Kashmir). However, the infrastructure damage caused by the tsunami was much less than the damage caused by the quake in Pakistan. The tsunami struck the coastal areas over a long belt, but the material damage was restricted to the fishing infrastructure, which could be speedily restored. Moreover, the areas affected by the tsunami were easily accessible by road, train, air and sea and remained so even after the tsunami struck. Providing humanitarian relief, therefore, did not pose colossal physical problems. In Pakistan, the quake struck areas which were relatively inaccessible due to lack of development and the inaccessibility is almost total to many areas nearly a month after the quake. The physical barriers to humanitarian relief, therefore, remain immense. Moreover, whereas the weather did not come in the way of the humanitarian relief in the tsunami-affected areas, it has already come in the way in the mountainous areas in Pakistan and would continue to remain in the way till the winter, which is setting in, is over by March next. In the tsunami-affected areas, the damage was largely to the social (schools and healh services) infrastructure and to the economy of the affected areas, which were largely dependent on fishing and tourism. Damage to the fishing industry is amenable to quick repair and restoration. There was little damage of a serious or permanet nature to the tourist infrastructure except possibly in the Maldives. The damage caused by the tsunami to tourism was more due to its psychological impact than to any damage to the infrastructure. Once the fears in the minds of the tourists disappeared, they started returning. The tsunami-affected areas did not suffer any damage to their strategic infrastructure. The damage suffered by Pakistan is multi-dimensional as indicated below: Damage to strategic infrastructure: The road network and the military infrastructure in the form of barracks, bunkers, houses for army officers etc are in a shambles. The onset of winter will delay the road repairs and restoration work. Unless the road network is restored early, humanitarian relief cannot reach hundreds of isolated villages. The affected areas are strategically important for the Pakistan military. But, if it gives priority to the restoration of the military infrastructure over the requirements of the civilians, it could add to the anger against Musharraf for his perceived mishandling of the aftermath. Damage to economic infrastructure: The economy of the affected areas is largely dependent on fruit cultivation and tourism. Fruit orchards over large areas have been wiped out by the quake and hotels and motels meant for tourists have been brought down. After the ground has been cleared, fresh saplings of fruit-bearing trees have to be planted and they will take years to grow up and start bearing fruits again. Until the tourist infrastructure is re-built from scratch, tourism is unlikely to revive. There are no major alternate means of occupation in the affected areas. Damage to the social infrastructure: Practically all the schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and establishments providing essential supplies such as electricity and drinking water have been severely damaged, if not wiped out. Nearly 20,000 children and an unestimated number of teachers, doctors and nurses have been killed. The flow of foreign assistance so far has been mainly directed towards life-support humanitarian measures and quick restoration of the social infrastructure. Damage to Army's image: The Pakistan Army has always projected itself to the people of the country as the saviour of Pakistan and its people and Musharraf as a military leader with rare brilliance and unsurpassed leaders
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