Tuesday, 13 December 2005

Another earthquake on Northern Pakistan border

There's been another major earthquake yesterday affecting much of the same region of northern Pakistan and the Pakistan-administered portion of Kashmir where hundreds of thousands of people are still homeless in the mountains and unlikely to survive the winter following the larger earthquake 8 October 2005.

The epicentre of yesterday's earthquake was on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border about 250 km (150 miles) northwest of the epicentre of the 8 October earthquake , which was centered just west of the Line of Control (LOC) between Indian-occupied and Pakistan-administered Kashmir and almost directly under Muzaffarabad the largest city on the Pakistan-administered side of the LOC.

Travel in this region, which includes the world's second-highest (K2) and some of its steepest and most inhospitable mountains, is arduous even in summer, in the best of circumstances, on the best of its roads. The Karakoram Highway -- the only paved road over the crest of the Himalayas, on which I travelled through this area form north to south -- is closed more than half of the year by snow, and frequently in summer by landslides. There are few flat places large enough to land a helicopter, and much of the region is entirely inaccessible throughout the winter except on foot.

Initial reports of damage from the latest earthquake are of more landslides on slopes already weakened and fractured by the October quake. The impact on the transport of relief supplies could be severe, and could lead to tens of thousands more deaths.

Substantially more people are at risk of dying as a result of the October earthquake than from better-publicized disasters like last year's tsunami in the Indian Ocean, or Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast of the USA. At least 80,000 have already died from the earthquake. Many more Kashmiris will die this winter of cold, exposure, hunger, and disease.

Friends who know of my long-standing interest in Kashmir have been asking, "What can we do to help?"

Many of the problems in getting relief supplies to those who need them are political, and have to do with the de facto partition of Kashmir between Indian and Pakistani administration. In particular, most of the need is in the Pakistan-administered areas, and most of the money and resources are on the Indian side of the Line Of Control. For example, there's a crucial need for transport into the canyons, but Pakistan is understandably reluctant to let the Indian Air Force move in with their superior helicopters, lest India use this as a pretext for military takeover, and never leave. But the LOC is still not fully open, and it makes no practical sense to route aid to Pakistan-administered Kashmir through India. And India (and Pakistan) seem to be trying to use disaster relief as a propaganda tool to win the hearts and minds of Kashmiris.

Given these aspects of the situation, I'd try to get money to people who can work with the political situation on the Pakistan side of the LOC, are trying to bring together the different communities, and are working to get the LOC more open at least for relief work.

My friends in the Kashmiri American Council are funneling money to a joint relief committee in "Azad" ("Free", i.e. Pakistan-administered) Kashmir. I know nothing about what the end recipients of these funds are actually doing on the ground, but I suspect that locally based groups can make more efficient use of each donated dollar than foreign NGO's that aren't working through local communities. The KAC has been, so far as I know, a nonviolent and principled group distinguished for its commitment to outreach and dialogue between Kashmiris from all religious, ethnic, and regional communities in all parts of Kashmir and the diaspora.

(Beyond their unity in suffering since the earthquake, most Kashmiris, from all sub-groups, are united in wanting a reduction in military forays and firing across the LOC, and in wanting more opportunities for family visits across the LOC. However, I've seen no hint that India is willing to consider anything beyond "confidence building measures", or anything with any real chance of being accepted by most Kashmiris as permanent or a "solution".)

You can contribute online (click the "donate" button at the top of the page) or send checks marked for earthquake relief and payable to the KAC to:

Kashmiri American Council
1111 - 16th Street, N.W. Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036

In case it's moved from their home page, the KAC appeal is as follows:

An Appeal for Earthquake Victims in South Asia

The recent earthquake that shook South Asia has been reported to be one of the most devastating earthquakes to hit the region in history, with the greatest destruction coming in Azad Jammu & Kashmir. The death count is currently estimated at 40,000 and increasing everyday. The U.N. officials report that approximately 3.5 million people were rendered homeless and countless could be vulnerable to infections and disease. There is desperate need to get aid to those that have survived the initial quake, so that they do not have to succumb to a lack of food, water, shelter, or medicine.

Muzzafarabad, Balakot, Bagh, Rawalakot and many other towns have been turned into graveyards. Dead bodies are seen everywhere. The Washington Post reports that rescuers are pulling out dead children but there is no one to claim the bodies, which shows their parents are dead.

Understanding the necessity for swift action, the Kashmiri American Council (KAC) has formed a committee of Americans of Azad Kashmiri origin who represent all shades of opinion of the people of Azad Kashmir. The time has come for Kashmiri American Council and World Kashmir Freedom Movement to give back the gift of aid, shelter, and hope to the people of Azad Kashmir who have always been the embodiment of generosity and kindness. The committee members are the following:

Hafiz Mohammad Sabir, All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference 718-434-2071
Mr. Raja Muzzafar, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, 718-859-6100
Mr. Akram Amin Khan, Pakistan Peoples Party Azad Kashmir, 718-338-3645
Mr. Rashid Bhatti, Jamaat-e-Islami, Azad Kashmir 718-338-6835
Mr. Sardar Irshad Khan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Party, 914-804-0812
Dr. Ghulam N. Mir, World Kashmir Freedom Movement 330-618-8200
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Kashmiri American Council 202-628-6789

It is with this call for action that we are seeking aid for relief activities. All relief activities will be fully transparent beyond any party affiliations. All donations collected in the United States will be sent to the committee in Azad Kashmir that will comprise of the following members:

The Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir;
President, All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference;
President, Pakistan Peoples Party Azad Kashmir;
President, Jamaat-e-Islami, Azad Kashmir;
President, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front;
President, Azad Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party.

Please send tax-deductible donations to:
Kashmiri American Council (KAC)
1111 - 16th Street, N.W. Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
[note new address and zip code]

The bank information is the following:
Citibank, account number: 6650-3361
Bank routing number: 254070116
Bank address: P.O.Box 18967, Washington, DC 20036

For more information, please call:
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director
Kashmiri American Council
1111 - 16th Street, N.W. Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036. (New address)
Tel: 202-628-6789 / Fax: 202-393-0062
E-mail: kac@kashmiri.com
www.kashmiri.com

Link | Posted by Edward on Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 11:13 (11:13 AM) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Almost a year has passed but still the situation is worsening. Many people are still surviving without shelter, living in tents or under rocks. It's hard to imagine the government of Pakistan is not doing much to erradicate the marks of tragedy.

Posted by: Mr. Drug Rehab, 26 September 2006, 17:16 ( 5:16 PM)

Bismillah-E-Rehman-E-Rahim, Sab Hindu bhaiyo ko bhi Ram-Ram,

Terrorists O Terrorists,

WHY DONT YOU LEAVE WE MOSLEMS PEACEFULLY WITH HINDUS TOGETHER. IF YOU HAVE PROBLEMS IN KASHMIR. SETTLE IT THERE. DONT COME HERE. YOUR BOMB BLASTS CREATE PANIC AND FEAR IN DELHI MOSLEMS.

HOW LONG HINDUS WILL BE PATIENT ? THEY ARE ALSO HUMANBEING. IF WE KILL A BUFFALO, EVEN HE TRIES TO ESCAPE AND FIGHT. IF HINDUS STARTED FIGHTING ALONGWITH POLICE AND ARMY THEN ?

FOR ALLAH'S SAKE, LEAVE US.

YOU EYE ABOUT HINDUSTAN, WE WILL LIKE TO SAY -

PAKISTAN TUMHARI MA*UT AAY*E..
HINDUSTAN KE DUSHMANO TUMHARI MA*UT AAY*E..
ANTAKWADIYO TUMHARI MA*UT AAY*E..
PYAR, BHAICHARA, SHANTI AUR ALLAH KE DUSHMANO TUMHARI MAU*T AAY*E..

insallah humari fatah aur hindustan ke dushmano ki shikast hogi !!!

Allah hafij

Julfikar Ali on behalf of all Delhi Muslims
Muzlis-E-Islam
New Delhi

Posted by: Julfikar Ali, 19 September 2008, 04:37 ( 4:37 AM)
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