Wednesday, October 19, 2005

From Ground Zero

A moving first hand account of the earthquake in Pakistan.

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Salaam Alikum,

We are back from Azad Kashmir. It was a good trip - good in the sense that we came back with a feeling that a difference is being made - no matter how small there is slight progress.

I had always wanted to see Neelam Valley and Kashmir quite appropriately dubbed a piece of heaven on earth by the British.

Unfortunately what I saw was the Death Valley. The past one week my faith in just about everything has been tested to its extreme.

Muzafrabad is dead. There is no building standing in this capital city. The sole 2 buildings that survived will be brought down by the government in a day or two because they are unstable. Because it rained - I had seen blood flow out of crumbled buildings in a thick maroon paste as if the buildings themselves are bleeding.

Something that aches the most all the children are dead. The classes started at 8:00 that fateful morning and those inside were all crushed. The smell of death plagues the city start to end. We
had to walk a lot no matter were you go and what you do - you smell them and after a while it becomes a part of you. As I write this I can still smell it even though I am home now and have showered 3 times and tossed those clothes out.

If anyone wants to see what the Judgment Day would look like I say take a trip to Muzafrabad. I have seen relatives not recognize each other. I have seen ground rejecting the dead - as there is no more

I have seen aches, pains, and misery like no one can imagine. People walk the streets like zombies with fear and misery in their eyes.

For three days following the earthquake there was no Azan or Namaz in the city - three days later the first Azan was given and people started screaming everywhere. There were sounds of Allah-O-Akbar
and La'illaha every where. There sounds of screams, cries, and shouts. Everyone ran to streets some fell on the ground in sajood to pray (maybe) or just were over powered - that I do not know. Others cried and hit their heads. People hugged people and cried.

In this past one week I have wanted to cry uncontrollably . . . but the people everywhere in Dheerkot, Bagh, Muzafrabad, and Balakot (and all other places too I am sure) expressed such metal in the wake of this crisis that they have kept themselves strong and all the out of towners as well.


I would give anything up but not this. This is what I saw:

Allah tested this nation by throwing world's 4th largest earthquake at us and this nation stood-up saying Allah-o-Akbar. From Karachi to Muzafrabad there is an ocean of conveys taking aid - you can not imagine in your wildest imaginations how this nation has responded.

People are virtually gambling on their lives to get aid through. When the ground shakes from quakes and after shocks Pakistanis hold hands and stand firm and say loudly Allah-O-Akbar, we came from you and to you we will return.

When rocks the size of cars rain from mountains Pakistanis walk steadily saying Allah-O-Akbar, give us strength to walk. When mass graves are dug and tens of dead are lowered for eternity Pakistanis say - Allah-O-Akbar, forgive us even if we are not worthy of your mercy.

When rubble is moved and dead bodies of innocent children are found I heard Pakistani mothers cry and people say "do not cry we do not understand His wisdom He is all knowing and all powerful"

Today I am PROUD TO BE A PAKISTANI. Today we are a NATION tied together by one religion Islam.

But things are not well. The destruction is huge 1/4th of Pakistan suffers. Medicines are needed, food stock is moderate to fair, tents and blankets are badly needed.

We shall go again on Wednesday. We have found a good place to put up our camps in Muzafrabad.
Those who have helped . . . I would say dig deeper. Those who have not I would say please do not wait. Do what ever you can with whom ever you can.

Here is basic info for you: Muzafrabad the largest city in Kashmir was home to 500,000. 35,000 casualties, the rest 465,000 needs roughly 30KG of food / week which means - 14,000 tons of food has to be sent every week till the situation comes into control. The most a truck can take is 5 Tons and most trucks can only do 1.5 to 3 tons. Lifesaving medicines are urgently needed. I can not give you any estimate on their need. Allah Hafiz


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