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  • Kashmir earthquake: news and blogs round-up


    by Al-Hack
    10th October, 2005 at 4:25 am    

    The death toll from Pakistan’s worst ever natural disaster has hit around 40,000. The number of deaths in India has reached 689.

    It was the strongest there for 70 years, and is a result of the sub-continent ‘moving forward‘ apparently. Around a 140 small tremors have hit Pakistan since the big one.

    The disaster may ease tensions even further between India and Pakistan, although American Christian evangelist Pat Robertson isn’t too optimistic, claiming that all this points to the return of Christ.


    There are estimated to be around 600,000 Kashmiri Britons, many of who retain strong ties back home. Most are from Mirpur and Kotli districts of the Pakistan controlled part of Kashmir. [Assoc. of British Kashmiris]

    In a Five Live doc last month, Navid Akhtar reported on a community in crisis. He argued that when the community arrived from rural Kashmir in the 1950s, it maintained tribal allegiances, and refused to integrate. Only now leaders acknowledge that their community is in crisis and feels it needs to stop seeing itself as a victim and start reforms from within.

    The Independent reports on anxious British Kashmiris and their rush to go to the area and find loved ones.

    From the Blogosphere…
    Juan Valdez asks if earthquakes are increasing in frequency. Islamabad based Shahzada Hatim has initial reactions, and so does Shivam Vij from India.


                  Post to del.icio.us


    Filed in: Current affairs,Media,South Asia






    29 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs


    1. leon — on 10th October, 2005 at 10:37 am  

      One wonders if this (along with the hurricanes and the Tsunami) has anything to do with climate change…

    2. Robert Sharp — on 10th October, 2005 at 11:19 am  

      Leon: The Hurricanes are weather; the earthquakes and tsunami are tectonic. I don’t think there is any evidence to link this sort of seismic activity with global warming, pollution and climate change. One could ask questions about the link between seismic activity and underground nuclear testing, but again, I don’t think there is the scientific evidence to link the two.

      I’m afraid this one looks like a true Act of God (in the Insurance Company sense of the word).

      A more pertinent point is how the death toll in such disasters is linked to living conditions, economic development, etcetera.

    3. Adam — on 10th October, 2005 at 1:46 pm  

      It was act of GOD - the christian god - attempting to show muslims the true path to salvation is with jesus . And only then shall you save yourself from the wrath of allmighty

    4. Sunny — on 10th October, 2005 at 2:27 pm  

      Wow, we have a friend of Pat Robertson here too!

    5. leon — on 10th October, 2005 at 4:31 pm  

      Robert: I haven’t got it to hand but after the tsunami there was a group of scientists who put forward the idea that the underwater earth quake that caused/contributed to the tsunami may have been worse due to changes in water currents/temperture which were due to climate change.

      As for hurricanes, there’s been alot of talk about climate change making them faster (ie the power of them/wind speeds etc) and frequent due to climate change.

      But yeah for this one it’s more likely that it’s a result of nuclear testing in the area than climate change…

    6. leon — on 10th October, 2005 at 4:32 pm  

      Pat Robertson may be a prick but I gotta say my first reaction to all this was “wow this year’s a biy apocolyptic aint it!?”…and i’m an ardent athiest!

    7. midwestern gal — on 10th October, 2005 at 4:41 pm  

      My uneducated guess would be — earthquakes killing more people is on the rise (3 big ones in the past 3 years, according to that blog) because, uh, the earth’s population is on the rise. :) As more people move from rural areas to urban cities, where an earthquake is more likely to be catastrophic than if it happened out in Siberia or South Dakota, then we may see more high-casualty earthquakes in the future. A friend of mine says she’s fully ready to move back home to Kentucky if The Big One hits California (which it definitely will, messing up electricity and water supplies) because at least where she’s from there’s still generators and water in wells and the ability to raise some food. Hmmmm.

    8. Sunny — on 10th October, 2005 at 4:54 pm  

      midwestern gal - very true. Plus the fact that Pakistan’s buildings aren’t exactly as earthquake friendly as those in Japan.

    9. Eric — on 10th October, 2005 at 5:23 pm  

      Corruption kills. :-(

    10. Al-Hack — on 10th October, 2005 at 6:05 pm  

      So true Eric, so true. In this case corruption may end up killing more people than anything. Those buldings really should have been built better.

    11. Don — on 11th October, 2005 at 12:06 am  

      Whatever the various reasons, we seem to be in a time of horror upon horror. We have to learn to deal with it.

      The speed, skill and guts of the various international response teams is humbling. The people on the ground, in the rubble, are a lesson in what humans can be. But how well is our political world organised and co-ordinated to deal with these catastrophes?

      Serious question, is anybody well-informed on how efficient response is?

    12. Steve M — on 11th October, 2005 at 12:17 am  

      I notice from watching the BBC News coverage of this disaster, the stark contrast with the coverage of the Tsunami tragedy. This time no one is even pretending that the UN should have any role whatsoever in the short term aid effort. We do learn after all.

      On the climate change thing, is there any mileage in the theory that as the Earth heats up there’s more energy in the system and it’s that that leads to an increased incidence of these disasters?

      Adam, if you’re serious in your comment (and it’s not actually a topic to joke about) then it’s time you underwent some very serious self-examination. It should be blindingly obvious to any intelligent person, whether Muslim, Christian, agnostic, Buddhist, atheist or Jew, that God (or the universe) doesn’t work that way. I think your comment was sick.

    13. Eric — on 11th October, 2005 at 12:35 am  

      On the climate change thing, is there any mileage in the theory that as the Earth heats up there’s more energy in the system and it’s that that leads to an increased incidence of these disasters?

      1906 was a bad year too: the San Francisco earthquake, a landslide in New York, an earthquake in Equador, Mount Vesuvius errupted , a huge typhoon and tsunami killed 10,000 in Hong Kong, and Adolf Eichmann was born to top it off.

      None of those were related to climate change, though I bet someone could if they tried hard enough. ;-)

    14. Sunny — on 11th October, 2005 at 12:55 am  

      There should be some sort of an international rescue body of some sort that deals with different disasters - tsunamis, earthquakes, fires, floods etc.

      Would be much better than individual countries, sometimes with very little expertise (as is the case with Pakistan) to try and train its people instantly.

      Ideally a UN force I guess but that body seems to be becoming increasingly redundant these days.

      Steve, I’m not a climate expert so I wouldn’t know but I think global warming is going to screw everything up anyway, despite the earthquakes and hurricanes.

    15. Eric — on 11th October, 2005 at 1:24 am  

      The only thing the UN would do is slow things down, with another layer of bureaucracy..

      International co-ordination is the name of the game, so expertise is always on tap. Russian sub goes down - British firm gets there to rescue it. Earthquake in Pakistan - US divert helicopters from Afghanistan and China moves in heavy lifting gear.

      Perhaps the UN could co-ordinate diasaster relief training - not instant, but a worthwhile investment. A country able to produce a nuclear weapon, should be able to develop disaster relief capability in its armed forces.

      Another thing, while no-one would deny the right of people directly involved in this tragedy complaining about their government’s response, I think the media should show some balance so that a disaster is not turned into a blame game or political drama - rather than an opportunity to learn how the system can be improved.

      Deliberate corruption lowering building standards is fair game, but when dealing with the immediate disaster I think people can become overly focused on looking for a surrogate bad guy. No one can doubt that the Pakistani Army isn’t trying its best in extremely tough conditions.

    16. Steve M — on 11th October, 2005 at 1:36 am  

      No one can doubt that the Pakistani Army isn’t trying its best in extremely tough conditions.

      - although the BBC did show them in a bad light when they were filmed standing around doing nothing because “they hadn’t received any orders”.

      I think that you make some good points though, Eric. Having watched the response to the Tsunami, Katrina and now Kashmir, I’m led to the conclusion that film crews are capable of arriving at some disaster spots before aid efforts. However, before we’re over critical of governments and aid organizations we should try to get a real appreciation of the scale of these problems.

    17. Sunny — on 11th October, 2005 at 1:49 am  

      I was thinking along the same lines, but this line of questiong serves two purposes. Firstly it reflects the emotions and frustrations of the people caught up in the middle of these disasters. No doubt they will look for someone to blame (usually) but thats not to say a TV camera should then edit that out.

      Besides, in a 24 hour news world, tv crews need tons of material and they will interview many people, many of who will voice their frustrations. So it becomes inevitable.

      Secondly, they have the impact of further galvanising the relief efforts and stopping the higher authorities thinking that things are going smoothly. I bet Musharraf was himself tuning into Geo TV or the BBC to find out what was going on. If those people on TV don’t ask where the govt is, then he might assume the relief efforts are going well.

      Perhaps the UN could co-ordinate diasaster relief training - not instant, but a worthwhile investment. A country able to produce a nuclear weapon, should be able to develop disaster relief capability in its armed forces.

      Well, there will be a layer of bureaucracy regardless of who does it, and though the UN is bloated, at least it is equally hated by all governments and is therefore in the best position to organise something.

      The point about nuclear weapon is true, and one of the follies of the govt. Pakistan consistently spends around 25% of its money on defence and the sad fact is that the people don’t even rebel against that and ask for more to be spent on education.

    18. langdon — on 11th October, 2005 at 5:38 am  

      In a Five Live doc last month, Navid Akhtar reported on a community in crisis. He argued that when the community arrived from rural Kashmir in the 1950s, it maintained tribal allegiances, and refused to integrate. Only now leaders acknowledge that their community is in crisis and feels it needs to stop seeing itself as a victim and start reforms from within.

      what community in particular is this referring to? pakistani community in bradfford?

    19. Siddharth — on 11th October, 2005 at 8:33 am  

      The only thing the UN would do is slow things down, with another layer of bureaucracy.

      Is that why the International Aid delivery Machinery is relying so completely on the UN and related NGOs? On Newsnight last night, Hilary Benn came on the show to explain Britain’s aid initiatives. And more than once he had to say that the delivery was with the help of the UN and he used the phrase “the UN on the ground” on more than one occassion.

      The UN have been doing this kind of thing since post War and its what they are best at. To dismiss the UN on the spurious grounds of recent politics (1441, groan) is taking a blinkered view of the UN’s role in developing countries where infrastructure is limited. Just because the NeoCons wants to take an axe to it it is no reason why we should. Have they got an alternative that they wish to use? Oh yeah, the Iraqi Democracy Building Initiative. ;-)

    20. Eric — on 11th October, 2005 at 9:18 am  

      Siddharth, you may wish to reduce this argument to the Iraq war, but their is a serious point that countries should have their own capabilities rather than relying on a “UN force”.

      In fact, the UN has come under criticism for failing to “unite all the UN agencies, let alone other organisations” in the wake of the Boxing Day tsunami. I am not saying the UN does not have any role, but that a specific “UN international rescue” force is not the way forward. If the UN gets its act together and acts a co-ordinator of relief efforts then good. If that is the case this time, that is good news, and perhaps they have learnt something.

      Stop looking at things through your “Iraq goggles”.

    21. Eric — on 11th October, 2005 at 9:18 am  

      Arrghhh, “there is a serious point”

    22. Steve M — on 11th October, 2005 at 9:21 am  

      Siddharth,

      I’m not suggesting that the UN doesn’t have an important role in long term planning and aid distribution or, possibly, training. However, the recent Tsunami showed them to be woefully inadequate when it comes to getting aid, supplies and help to those who desperately need it, in the early stages.

      After that Tsunami, the US and Australia had their first supplies of men and aid on the ground, to people that needed them, within a couple of days. Clare Short, I recall, criticized them for bypassing UN organization. Over two weeks after the tragedy, the UN was still planning the building of its relief headquarters and concentrating on its PR. It had achieved nothing on the ground.

      The Diplomad, a web site (blog) run by ‘career US Foreign Service officers’, now ceased, was the site most responsible for alerting people to what was actually going on with the UN. Love them or hate them (and they were a right wing site so people did both) they were there, helping with the aid effort on the ground, The link given will show you their archives for January 2005.

      Whatever the utterings of Hilary Benn, the international aid delivery machinery is certainly not ‘relying so completely on the UN and related NGOs’. Aid has already been sent by various governments to the affected areas and the UN hasn’t even had its first meeting yet to decide the date of its next meeting.

      My point in making my comment above was not to re-ignite the debate on the effectiveness of the UN at getting aid and supplies to affecte regions in the short term. That debate is over and has been since the Tsunami. My point was that the world has, thankfully, moved on and, Hilary Benn aside, not even the BBC is now pretending that the UN is at the centre of the short term relief effort.

    23. Siddharth — on 11th October, 2005 at 11:15 am  

      Eric:
      If anyone is looking through “Iraq Goggles” here its you. You’ve tried to poison this thread with your hawkish views of the UN’s “inefficient bureaucracy” in this disaster because, like a broken record, thats the line to take if you’re pro-War. You’re stuck in a hole from back in 2002. This is compounded by the fact that you have no idea what an enormous role the UN takes in day to day Development Economics in South Asia which is an area prone to disasters such as this.

      Steve M:
      Your post deserves a considered reply. I’ll have to reply when I get a break and my Project Manager gets off my back! ;-)

    24. Eric — on 11th October, 2005 at 1:38 pm  

      There you go again. I could have held exactly the same views if I was anti-war.

      If you must answer my post stick to the substantial points in it rather than character assassination - which I am desisting from doing to you.

    25. T Nathan — on 11th October, 2005 at 1:53 pm  

      trotskyist neo-conservative liberal zionist scum

      He here nor there , He’s everywhere

      war anti-war terrorist subversive traitor - Politicophile

      # I hope some of it makes sense. blob.

    26. Siddharth — on 11th October, 2005 at 2:08 pm  

      ChrisM

      I had a look at Diplomad. Its well written and very verbose as you would expect from career wonks. But try as I might, I couldn’t the image of the US FSOs I’ve met in my life. Apart from some very capable and competent people (some of the best people I’ve met) they have mostly been arrogant arseholes who never bother to learn too much about the host country they’re in and live in protected US-only enclaves, from where they never come out to meet the “niggers”. These Diplomad bloggers seem to be entirely of that sort.

      the UN hasn’t even had its first meeting yet to decide the date of its next meeting.

      Now thats cruel but funny.

    27. Steve M — on 11th October, 2005 at 5:26 pm  

      Your analysis of US FSOs seems about right, although I spent quite some time on the Diplomad site and came to like and quite admire the guys. Strangely enough, my experience of the old Soviet diplomats was about the same, although once I met one who blew me away with his intellect and ability to dissect and analyse a philosophy from just a few clues. Very impressive.

      BTW, who’s ChrisM?

    28. nukh — on 11th October, 2005 at 9:58 pm  

      i could never fathom why the mirpuris who are a distinct ethnic group, with a different language insist on claiming kashmiri heritage…

    29. Barry — on 11th October, 2005 at 11:30 pm  

      Hey, regardless of what Pat Roberts thinks, one thing we can be sure of is we all want to protect our families and try to be prepared for these types of terrible events. In many countries, it is difficult to do this, but please check out our disaster preparedness blog at http://disasterblog.mycity.com/

      It provides advice on some small things you can keep around your home. Even if it is inconvenient or too expensive, please take a look at the blog for future reference, after all… our blog is a service for any and all people.

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