What is the unit of measurement for the adequacy of the humanitarian relief in the wake of a disaster, afflicting a nation with colossal loss in precious lives and property? Is it the scale of the disaster? Is it the worth of the victims of the nation or its intimacy to the one relieving it? Or is it the glory of the aid-providing nation’s beneficence and sinews?
In all these three measures, we have failed to help Pakistan as it was meant to be… This disaster is greater than the tsunami, as the Turkish Prime Minister said on his visit to Pakistan’s earthquake-affected areas, four days back. Our Pakistani brothers and sisters deserve all kinds of sacrifices, as our printed and visual media is constantly reminding and is reminded of, and our nation might have rendered a much better fashion of homage to our brothers and sisters with its beneficence and its power.
Yet I think there is another measure of this ongoing humanitarian assistance, rendering all of us more “responsible”: That is, “being awaited”…
A doctor friend of mine sent me an e-mail attached with an excerpt from Turgut Özakman’s book “Şu Çılgın Türkler” (Those Crazy Turks) just the other day. The excerpt was about a Turkish soldier, whose brother-in-arms was martyred by an enemy bullet during the Turkish National Struggle for Expelling Intruders (1919-1922). In the trench, the soldier asked his commander for permission to fetch his brother-in-arms, who was mowed down by enemy fire at the battlefront. However, the commander kept on moralizing that it was worthless for the soldier to rush into a constant hail of bullets to save the life of his comrade, who might be dead in a matter of seconds. Faced with the soldier’s fervent insistence, the commander eventually allowed him to brave the fusillade. The soldier carried his brother-in-arms back to the safety of the trench, but the body slung across his back was already lifeless. The commander said: “Didn’t I tell you jeopardizing your life was not worth it? He is dead already!
“It was really worth it,” replied the soldier.
“How come? Can’t you see? Your friend is already dead!”
“Still it was worth it, sir; he was still alive when I reached him. It really mattered hearing him utter his last words…”
And in tears he repeated the last words of his brother-in-arms: “I knew you would come!”
I have heard this phrase much frequently in the news coming from Pakistan. How definite it is that we have been waited! How incredibly strong the genuine trust behind this cry, “We knew you would come” is!
Have we been to our brothers and sisters? Could we really reach Pakistan in every sense of the word, “reach”? Have we really reached them thorough financial aid, prayers, and tears; not just sensing their pain but really feeling the hurt inside our hearts? Have we said, “We cannot celebrate during such a painful time” or “We don’t want any birthday presents this year, please send them all to Pakistan?” Have we really reached the country with projects, tent schools, plans for providing education to Pakistani orphans in Turkey, and erecting mobile hospitals?
Have we been able to urge the onlookers say, “The people of Turkey has got to their feet for us and now they are pacing towards Pakistan?”
Allah Almighty is watching us!
The Only Sovereign speaks to us through the tongue of events. Our responses, answers, or attitudes are not meant for the events. Indeed, we are accountable before Allah Almighty. Like the azaan (call to prayer) invites the faithful for the namaaz (daily prayers), calamities too call for earnest assistance. Have we been able to say our prayer personified as Pakistan befittingly?
Financial aid is the wudhu’ (ablution) of this prayer, the heartfelt prayers for the dear departed and the wounded is the kiyaam (standing up during prayer), the sincere agony of the heart and the mind is the ruku (bending before prostration), and finally being able to say “I am Pakistan!” is the sajdah (prostration) of the Prayer named Pakistan. Could we honestly perform it?
What the old saying “A calamity only really affects its immediate victim,” means for this very day is to proclaim, “I am Pakistan!”
I am Pakistan…
(*) At 8:50 p.m. on Saturday, October 8, 2005, Pakistan was struck by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter near Muzafferabad, the capital of the Azad Kashmir region. Affecting more than 500,000 families, this devastating earthquake wiped out many villages and towns in northern Pakistan. According to official sources, nearly 87,000 people lost their lives, 138,000 were injured and nearly 4 million people were left homeless. 19,000 of the earthquake victims were the students who could not escape from the collapsed school buildings. Appalled at the sight and extent of the destruction, then-Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan, would say, “Our 58-year achievements collapsed right in front of our eyes within 58 seconds”.
Teachers and administrators in the schools running under the auspices of the Pak-Turk International Cag Educational Foundation (PTICEF) were the first non-governmental humanitarian aid and rescue teams to reach the collapsed Margalla Towers apartments in Islamabad, and the earthquake-ravaged Muzaffarabad, Bagh and Balakot.
Published on October 24, 2005, daily Zaman’s London representative Kerim Balcı’s article titled “I am Pakistan” eloquently summarized the feelings to help urgently mobilize the people of Turkey for providing essential humanitarian relief to the earthquake survivors in Pakistan