What is missing this August?

This August seems cursed with devastation, bloodshed and hopelessness from Karachi to Khyber. The summer has been filled with devastation. It is time to unite.

Salman Shah Jilani August 13, 2010
August was once a month in which school children used to rehearse for tableaus for independence day functions, flags were bought to hoist on rooftops, independence day parade practice would take place in Islamabad and awards were presented on the big day. Fete and furore were synonymous with August . However, this August seems cursed with devastation, bloodshed and hopelessness from Karachi to Khyber.

The summer began with  stories of the unfulfilled dreams of  youths aboard an ill-fated airliner and the pain their loved ones went through. In the backdrop of this tragedy were bomb blasts in Peshawar and the Data Darbar in Lahore followed by target killings in Karachi.

Soon afterwards the words “floods wreak havoc”  reverberated across the country. Floods ravaged parts of KP and Punjab and we were told the worst was yet to come. The estimates of those who have lost their lives and those who stand displaced increases every day. Sheer unpreparedness on the part of the provincial and federal government is a sorrowful sight to witness.

Amidst all of this, came the assassination of a member of the Sindh assembly and the carnage which followed resulting in the death of at least 94. This was followed by a suicide attack in Peshawer which threw us into further darkness.

Even as I try to reconcile that myself with the facts - the plane crash was an accident, floods a natural catastrophe , the violence in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar the vengeance of  terrorists - there is one thing which I fail to understand, where is the one united Pakistan I saw  during 2005's destructive earthquake? All of us had rushed to help the victims without waiting for any appeals. Camps had been set up on the road side in every city to collect donations and everyone was more than willing to help .

The earthquake was natural calamity and so are these floods but this time around the spirit of helping and volunteering is at it's lowest and that too in the month of August when patriotic spirit is supposed to be at it's peak. It has veen less than five years since the earthquake hit. So, what happened? Have we lost our sense of empathy?

On 28 December 1947 M.A. Jinnah  made a welcome address at Karachi where he famously said:
“I have no doubt that with unity, faith and discipline we will not only remain the fifth state in the world but will compare with any nation of the world …you must makeup your mind now. We must sink individualism and petty jealousies and make up our minds to serve the people with honesty and faithfulness ,we are passing through a period of fear , danger ,menace. We must have faith , unity and discipline.”

We must unite and contribute, whatever we can, large or small, in any capacity — money, food, rations, drinkable water, tents, quilts, warm clothes, medicines for  water-borne diseases — because our impoverished brothers and sisters need us.

In this month of August let us pledge that whatever difficulty comes our way it will be dealt with as one nation.

You can donate Rs10 to help affectees by texting 'D' to 2471. To learn more about how to help visit D for Donate. 
Salman Shah Jilani A management undergraduate who blogs at globaldaaira.wordpress.com and chowrangi.com and tweets at @jilani7.
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