October 9, 2005

"Entire villages -- they have collapsed... almost entire towns, they have vanished..."

The death toll from yesterday's earthquake in Pakistan nears 20,000, with many still buried in rubble:
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf issued a plea on Sunday for foreign aid -- specifically, cargo helicopters and relief goods such as tents and blankets.

Helicopters are necessary, he said, because roads leading into some remote areas have been buried by landslides and the areas cannot be reached.

Musharraf said it was difficult to reach remote areas, "which are mountains anywhere over 10,000 feet."

"We can only go by roads, and roads also don't reach to every corner, so therefore it's only helicopter access that we have. Things are not as simple as one would see in the West."

He asked the international community to "bear with us. We have formulated our strategy now. UK and U.S., yes, indeed, we will expect helicopter support from you."

Isn't this a difficult situation, sending American helicopters to the very area -- the mountainous region bordering Afghanistan -- where our worst enemies have been hiding for years? Yet it isn't possible for us not to help.

UPDATE: As I wrote that post, the estimated turned to 30,000:
Villagers desperate to find survivors dug with bare hands Sunday through the debris of a collapsed school where children had been heard crying beneath the rubble...


Sally said...

I was just speaking of a few of my adorable Pakastani students that I had years ago. They were lovely, and they've stayed in my thoughts. This is absolutely heartbreaking.

Paul said...

Our helicopters are one thing, the crews who man them are another. He, Musharraf expects them, yet it is through his refusal to let us put a full court press on finding those who plot to kill us, even if it means entering his country, which keeps these crews in harms way.
The rescue duties they will be asked to perform are hazardous enough that we will probably count some dead among us. Put hostile forces with ground to air weapons all around them, who care nothing about Pakistani citizens and their suffering, just killing Americans for Allah's sake and he's asking a lot for what little he gives.
Guess what we'll do though? Forces in Afghanistan better hunker down because they'll be short helicopters and supplies for awhile.

PatCA said...

What we need is a coherent foreign policy re terror. I would be happy to send help at this time, but skip the regular stacks of money to Musharaff, Abbas, Mobarak until they clean their own houses. In addition, aren't the people in the tribal territories our avowed enemies??

I'm tired of everyone dialing up the US for help or for liberation as if they're ordering pizza and then complaining we weren't good enough, so no tip.

vnjagvet said...

It would be extraordinarily ironic if one of our crews came upon Bin Laden and Zawahiri in their rescue attempts.

amba said...

And now it's 40,000. Really horrific.

Ann Althouse said...

vnjagvet: I was hoping their cave caved in.

Jennifer said...

I was hoping their cave caved in.

Me too. Or, if they survived, I'm hoping they had at least a few moments of abject terror, where they thought it was our bombs closing in on them.

West Coast Independent said...

My first reaction to Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declaring “UK and U.S., yes, indeed, we will expect helicopter support from you” is what an arrogant bastard to assume that he can demand help from US. It reminds me of when the North Vietnamese demanded war reparations from President Carter in the late 70’s. But; on second thought, he now can justify US troops in Pakistan.

I bet there are going to be a lot more helicopters in the air than just rescue crews. Bin Laden and his pals may be finally brought to justice.

Finn Kristiansen said...

This situation disturbed me a bit, in part because it seems like we have probably exhausted everyone's interest in contributing money or attention to such problems.

This happens when we make a big production for each event, which is fine so long as they occur years apart. But now we have had the Tsunami, the Hurricane and now this Quake in short order, with more events (natural and manmade)likely to come.

I think people in charge of relief efforts should start formulating a method to organize rescue teams and funding that are ongoing in nature, so that these events don't compete which each other for sympathy and support.

How do you ask people to give, or have "We Are the World" type fundraisers, for each and every event? It's just impossible to raise the level of passion. It's like crying wolf each and every time, with an actual wolf appearing each and every time--eventually people metaphorically flee or check out.

There should be a kind of World Disaster Fund and a corresponding
"disaster peace corps" that steps in as the lead. We could dispense with the discomfort (as nations line up to be or appear) generous, and the sadness (as certain nations and disasters are snubbed or ignored).

williakz said...

Where's our propaganda department on this one? This earthquake is divine punishment for the radicals' (including OBL) straying from Islam proper. THAT message should be broadcast loudly and clearly in every Muslim venue we can access or influence. Our direct assistance should be firmly conditioned on substantive concessions from the Pakistani government regarding access to the affected areas. This is the place where mail addressed OBL c/o Pakistan is delivered next day to the man himself...

We don't seem to get this yet. Five or ten years down the road, when we (or our allies) have been nuked by our Pakistani "friends" (or their allies), we'd treat such a "disaster" as a godsend. Soft, weak and doomed. Feh.