Survivors, not killers

As a Pakistani, I am thankful for all and any help that we received in the aftermath of the floods.

Zainab Imam October 24, 2010

Pakistan is a brave nation. It takes a lot of guts for a people to continue on after a year that can only be called the year of death: 8,000 people have died in Pakistan this year – devastating floods, a dumbfounding air crash, deplorable target killings and decimating suicide bombings. And the year hasn’t even ended yet.

Those from northern Pakistan have had it the worst. The year opened with a deadly blast that killed 94 people who had gathered to watch a volleyball match in Lakki Marwat in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, quashing all hopes that Pakistanis had had that this year may not be like last year.

Little had we known that even nature hadn’t had enough with our patience and would, this year, bare it all for us. It was as if the water let loose its entire wrath on Charsadda and Nowshera districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. A large number of people, who had been displaced by the army operation in tribal areas, had barely made it back home when their fragile homes were washed away by these torrential waters.

Yet, the area seems to have received the least of attention by the media. Apart from being quickly knocked off the pages, the only coverage that the floods in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa did receive was tainted in the same colour as every other news coming from that region. It is upsetting that even the plight of the flood survivors was seen through the lens of terrorism and militancy. Before their lives were even secure, the young men among the flood survivors of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were a threat to the life and security of others.

International, and national, media had a field day explaining that banned religious charity organisation Jamaatud Dawa, which is suspected to have links with militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, had jumped in with assistance for flood survivors while the government and the army made their way up. Alarm bells started ringing: Jamaatud Dawa is looking at a large number of recruits. The focus then shifted to a competition of sorts that had developed between the US and religious charities.

As a Pakistani, I am thankful for all and any help that we received in the aftermath of the floods. But assistance must come with acknowledgement – of our plight and pain. Of our spirit and resilience.

Zainab Imam A journalist, on a hiatus to pursue a Masters in Public Policy at The University of Chicago. Gender parity advocate, urban policy enthusiast. She tweets @zainabimam ( and blogs at
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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