‘Pakistan will not forget’

‘Pakistan will not forget’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, October 12, 2005

Why have US, German and British forces in Afghanistan not been mobilised to save lives?

The scale of the disaster has traumatised the entire country—or perhaps not quite. Here in Lahore a group of people collecting funds for earthquake relief were apprehended and charged. They were amassing money for themselves. Even in the midst of devastation, life goes on. The global media have descended on the country, their reports repeating the same images and the same banal comments every few minutes. Soon they will move on, so that when they are really needed, to monitor relief efforts and reconstruction or keep watch on the funds, they will no longer be there. The citizens of the west will also forget. But Pakistan will never be able to.

The situation in the north-west of the country is much worse than has been reported. The prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, lost his cool at local journalists for reporting the destruction of schools and the deaths of hundreds of children: “Why are you being sensationalist? Be optimistic!” The defensiveness was unnecessary. Nobody blames the regime for the earthquake and even the normally loquacious Frontier province and Afghan mullahs, eager to describe Katrina as “God’s punishment” for US wars, have fallen silent. Why would Allah punish the Islamist strongholds in Pakistan? read more