Having just spoken at length on mobile telephone to a senior Pakistani journalist, who has spent the last four days in Muzaffarabad, Balakot and Bagh, a truly horrifying picture has begun to emerge:
- The destruction is so vast and so complete that it is impossible to convey through images on television, words spoken on radio or by written words in newspapers.
- With the enormity and spread of the earthquake a final figure around 100,000 fatalities is not impossible.
- The suffering of the victims is quite appalling - especially those wounded with broken limbs or other injuries – having to spend four days and nights out in the open without food, water or warm clothing. The journalist’s voice broke with emotion when he described a two year old child, he had seen, with a broken arm sitting in the darkness by the roadside shivering with cold.
- The work involved is completely beyond the ability and competence of the Pakistani army.
- Sadly even the volunteers who have rushed from Karachi, Lahore and other centres are contributing to the problem. In the Bagh area people tried to drive trucks on narrow roads meant for motorbikes only. Ths has resulted in blocked routes and logjams which have further delayed the arrival of relief in the more issolated areas.
- For most victims the lack of shelter has become the most serious concern number one problem. The nights are getting colder in this mountainous region and deaths by hypothermia become a serious reality.
Everyone believes if we had more helicopters relief would have reached the victims much quicker. So when Musharraf appealed to the world for more helicopters it made a lot of sense.
But how many people know that on Sunday when India offerred to place several helicopters at the general's disposal the nitwit turned the offer down. One really wonders what sort of world do these swaggering armymen live in?