August Issue 2003

By | Editorial | Opinion | Published 21 years ago

The month of July began on a nightmare note, with a ruthless attack on a Quetta imambargah that left 50 dead and hundreds wounded in its wake. The politics of hate espoused by religious extremists and fed by years of official patronage had spawned yet another disaster.

It never rains, but it pours. The monsoon season arrived with a vengeance in water -starved Sindh, leaving hundreds of thousands stranded, fields flooded. In Badin, the worst affected district, some lives were saved, but no one knows yet how many were lost. Badly maintained irrigation canals were breached, letting loose a torrent of water to wreak havoc upon the villages.

The city of Karachi lay in ruins, its streets awash in stagnant water. KESC went on the blink, phones failed to function and stalled vehicles forced commuters to walk through the potholed streets for miles. The airport was cut off from the city, its approach road, the city’s major artery, under water.

The official response was, as usual, inadequate, more talk than action. And where there was action, more attention was paid to the division of the spoils than to the relief effort at hand.

Meanwhile, the politicians and the khakis resumed their weary dance, but reports of an upcoming compromise on the LFO failed to stir much interest among the battle fatigued people of the land, for whom even the basic necessities of life remained out of reach.

But even in this dismal scenario, there was a silver lining. In this case, the brave and single-handed rescue operation mounted by Faisal Edhi. Faisal himself was reported missing for 22 hours, as he braved the flood and combed the villages of Badin in search of survivors.

The bus to Delhi began to roll again, raising hopes once more of moving towards the elusive goal of peace. It’s still too early for the hopes to be raised too high, and much depends upon the will to forge an authentic roadmap, not one dictated by external pressures, as easy to abandon as it is to adopt.

And then there was that special event, the Special Olympics, held this year in Ireland where athletes from Pakistan walked away with 89 medals. Balbriggan, their host town, was proud indeed to host them. The event itself and the outstanding performance of the Pakistani athletes was a tribute to the spirit that holds heads high in the face of adversity.