Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

Despair

Har jagah mere chamakne se ujla hojai

Average Destruction of 2005 Earthquake in Kashmir

October 8th marks the anniversary for the massive earthquake that jarred Kashmir and left more than more than 80,000 dead, mostly children in their schools.  Dead before they had really ever had a chance to live.

When I went to Kashmir several months later to try to do my part, I was overcome by the injustice of what had happened. But, I left with some semblance of hope — hope in the beauty of the people I had met there; hope in the children who I had played with, who had taught me so much; hope in the future; hope in Pakistan.

Kashmir: Teaching in Tent

Now, five years later, I struggle to look at Pakistan without despair. Since then, a cyclone devastated Baluchistan, fighting destroyed Swat, conflict has torn apart the frontier and bombs at the hands of Muslims have ripped apart the very heart and soul of a once great nation. If the country was not tattered enough, August brought forth one of the great plagues: floods. Floods that have literally drowned a nation. Floods that have

BBC: Extent of Flooding

wiped out crops — wiped out next year’s food for a nation of 180 million people. Floods that have destroyed homes, destroyed houses, destroyed roads and bridges. Floods that have destroyed lives. Floods that have been so cruel as to have killed children; children who are pure, who are innocent, who haven’t even had a chance to live yet. Floods that have washed up mud, but have also washed off dirt from the problems of poverty, that have brought to light the injustice and inequity of the past 60 years. Floods that have left children more vulnerable, more hurt, more victimized than ever before.

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08

10 2010

Pakistan is Drowning – A Personal Account

Emirates flight from Dubai to Islamabad is uneventful but delayed, typical Emirates style; the pilot wakes up 15 minutes after scheduled departure, tells us how sorry he is and blames late arrival of this aircraft for the delay. As if I care; you are late, period, I don’t care an ant’s ass why; save me the sob story. Would Emirates care if I told them I am late checking in because my driver was delayed picking me up? The food served on board is so bad, my neighbor takes one bite of his chicken korma, makes a face, hurriedly covers his tray, pulls a blanket over his face and is fast asleep in about two minutes; lucky guy. I eat the salad and bread, for I am hungry, this is my iftaar and sleep afterwards is impossible. There is commotion on board after we land, people are on their feet, emptying overhead cabins before the aircraft comes to a full stop; cabin crew franticly force them to cease, but my fellow passengers are in a hurry, they ignore pleas to sit down; the crew give up.

A strikingly young attractive lady immigration officer, scanning through my passport wants to know why I go to Afghanistan so much; I explain I am an aid worker building schools and taking care of orphans, widows there. A sad look clouds her pretty face and says in very heavy accented Pinglish, they kill you American, be careful, no? Some Pakistanis too, I want to add but bite my tongue instead. She waves me towards a desk where I am to apply for visa on arrival. I leave her reluctantly; not sure why, maybe a feeling of shared camaraderie between us in the few seconds of our interaction.
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14

09 2010

She Mourns the Loss of Pakistan’s Vision

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“I love Pakistan,” she said, tears welling up.  She took the edge of her duputta and wiped them away.  “I was born there and every part of me has memories of it.”

My mother-in-law lives with me.  We sat this week in the living room, just the two of us.  Her heart breaking, she lamented  the lack of assistance being given to the flood victims who are being crushed by a system that exploits poverty.

“If the wealthy in Pakistan gave Zakat as they should,” she said angrily, “we wouldn’t even need assistance from outside.  This isn’t the vision of Quaid-e-Azam.”

I watch her sit sullenly in America day after day, alienated from everything she loves:  her friends and family, the sights and smells and culture of the land of her birth.  She watches the destruction of the dream of Pakistan on the internet and simultaneously denounces and longs for her home.

And it makes me angry.

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24

08 2010