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Pakistani Fulbrighters call for more aid for quake victims

Pakistani officials told the BBC that the earthquake killed more than 55,000 people, injured another 78,000 and left three million homeless. The UN estimates that over 800,000 people are without shelter as the bitter winter nears. The problem seems to be some Pakistani mismanagement, but primarily international donor fatigue. The World Food Program says it may be forced to ground its relief helicopters because it lacks the funds to fly them and calls for donations.

Prof Slaughter, Dean at Princeton University, calls for a Berlin Airlift for the 21st century  that would simultaneously advance humanitarian and strategic objectives by winning hearts and minds in the Muslim world. The US military, however, says a helicopter was fired upon while delivering aid, which Pakistan denies.

Several Pakistani Fulbrighters appealed for more aid. Following are three emails from Saad Sheikh, PhD Student at The University of Illinois, and from Fouad Khan, who studies at The University of Houston, Texas as well as from Umber Shamim:

Saad Sheikh sent us this email:

I was on the phone with my family in Lahore when it happened, I could hear the panicked of my mother who tends to remain calm in the toughest circumstances. I could hear the things shaking, windows, tables vibrating; and my sister asking my mother to rush outside, I joined in with my sister over phone to push my mom to go outside. Luckily they were in Lahore, it wasn't affected as much as Kashmir and they are safe, but many others weren't as lucky.

Its a painful sight to see pictures of levelled cities and villages, amputated people and dead bodies. Big buildings cracked open by forces of nature. My heart weeps for the families of Hundreds of Thousands killed, yes, thats over 100,000 HUMANS dead! No human being with an ounce of compassion can see the pictures of the victims and realize the tragedy without a heavy heart.

Can you possibly imagine? What if one of our loved ones was there, or affected by it.

Over 2.5 Million homeless people! Over 1 million still out in coldest and difficult to reach parts of Pakistan if not world. I wish I could fly right now to save them. We cannot save those who are dead, but we can help those who are endangered. If anyone out there is reading my message and has a dime to spare, PLEASE, SEND IT! Every single Penny/Cent/your-currency makes a difference! I plead for your help. Fear God if you believe in one, if you don't: do it for any compassion or love of mankind in you. Send anything you can spare, blankets, medicines, tents. Pakistani embassies worldwide are accepting any offerings, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, have a heart, don't let a tragedy develop into a bigger one.

Yours Truly,
Saad Sheikh

PhD Student
Department of Computer Science
University of Illinois at Chicago


Fouad Khan wrote:

I once trekked from the small idyllic town in Naran valley to the majestic lake Saif-ul-Mulook in Pakistan’s northern areas.  The sheer awe and beauty of the Himalayan peaks overlooking the scenery is overwhelming.  In the shade of Himalayas, the people of northern Pakistan have always lived a life of quite contentment in their secluded little villages.  To me, they’ve always been the custodians of a lifestyle that pays all due respect to nature and exists in harmony with it.

That one time I was trekking towards lake Saif-ul-Mulook however, I came across this group of the cutest little children I’d ever seen.  Their faces were so angelically innocent and their cheeks were so plump and red, you couldn’t help picking them up and pinching their cheeks.  This one child had the most curious look of inquiry on his face as he stared at us and tried to make sense of the anomaly that we were in his world.  Then, a shade of eureka lit his face for a second; as if he’d just remembered something.  He raised his index finger, and cried out most enthusiastically, “one rupee”!  Then he started repeating nonchalantly with his finger pointing towards the sky, ! “one rupee”, “one rupee”…  It was a shock!  Capitalism had already made inroads into that purest of places that was this child’s mind.  He didn’t understand what he was saying, he didn’t know what it meant; somebody had just taught him to raise his irresistible plea for a rupee at the sight of a tourist. 

That lent some perspective to the whole picture; these people that were part of this piece of heaven on earth, were poor by any definition of the word.  These kids were born in poverty.  None of them had on a dress that wasn’t torn in places.  They never got to play with fancy toys, hardly had a shot at education that was of any decent quality, and would be lucky if they had their full, three times a day.

Now, whatever little they had has been taken away from them as well.  Many of them don’t have a roof on their head and can die of hunger or thirst, if not exposure.  Nature has hit us hard in the past few months; the tsunamis, the hurricanes and now the earthquake.  With all of my rational persuasions in place, I still can’t help but think that this is some kind of retribution for our acts of excesses, imbalances and consumption.  In this time of war then, some of the only real friends of earth amongst the human race are on the verge of death.  The people of northern Pakistan have always been our ambassadors of peace towards earth.  We need to save their lives!  They need shelter, food, water and medical care, the very basic of human needs, in order to survive.  More than fifty thousand have died, and if the needed resources are not collected, the death toll can more than double in the coming winter.

We must donate generously.  We need to save lives, and besides, I think we owe it to earth for our comfortably “middle class” lifestyles.  Please donate.

Fouad Khan.
Fulbright Student
University of Houston, Texas.

Umber Shamim emailed on the Fulbright-L mailing list:

According to BBC about 73,000 people died in pakistan due to the 8th Oct earth quake, out of which 17,000 were children. More than 3 million peopele are left homeless. The areas worst hit are in the north of pakistan. The access to those areas is not easy, 41 Villages are not even accessed by relief workers yet. Winter is approaching, but people are still without shelter. The lack of tents, food and health supplies is making the situation worse. The landslides are increasing due to after shocks. Even yesterday 6 children died due to extreme climate conditions and lack of shelter. There is enormous need for tents and medicine especially the tetnaus vaccines. The financial cost of the quake would be more than 5 billion dollars. Less than 30% of the aid sought by UN has been collected so far. Please save more people from dying due to hunger, cold and injuries. Please lend a helping hand. Please donate.
Umber Shamim

Eccentric Star: A Public Diplomacy Weblog quotes the Associated Press:

The United States has sent military helicopters, an Army field hospital and a construction battalion to earthquake-stricken Pakistan a gesture that has irked Islamic hard-liners but may help improve Washington's battered image in the Muslim world after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"When they do something against Muslims, we condemn them. Now as they are helping us, we should appreciate them," said Yar Mohammed, 48, a farmer in Muzaffarabad, the devastated capital of Pakistan's portion of the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir.



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