Thursday, 29 May 2008

Joint efforts could have saved more lives

Joint efforts could have saved more lives
Dr Shabir Choudhry 12 October 2005

‘Joint efforts by India and Pakistan could have saved more lives and helped the unfortunate people devastated by the earthquake’, said Dr Shabir Choudhry, Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF.

In a joint statement, Abbas Butt, Mohammed Nazam and Dr Shabir Choudhry said, ‘It was inappropriate of Pakistani authorities to refuse offer of friendly help in this time of tragic need which was beyond the scope of Pakistan to deal with promptly and efficiently’. On one hand a peace process is going on and friendly exchanges of all sections of the society are being made to strengthen friendly ties; and yet to bewilderment of many, Pakistani authorities refused to accept help from India which was in a position to send help immediately across the LOC.

This help if it was accepted and Indian helicopters were allowed to drop food and emergency items could have saved hundreds if not thousands of lives, as it was easy for India to reach out to these people, but politics and ego won the day and Pakistani authorities refused to accept this offer.

Many people wonder what damage Indian helicopters full of blankets and medicine could have done to national security of Pakistan if they were allowed to bring necessary supplies and drop them inside Azad Kashmir and go back and bring more. If there were some issues they could have been restricted to drop their loads in specified areas, but ego and pride of some officials was more important than saving lives of innocent and suffering Kashmiris, said the JKLF leaders.

Dr Shabir Choudhry said. ‘Joint rescue efforts to save lives and help the trapped people could have been the biggest CBM to strengthen ties between the two nations.’ Some Pakistani official were good at bragging that Pakistan was capable of meeting this challenge on her own, yet no help was available to the people in many parts of Bagh, Rawalakot, Athmaqaam, Neelam Valley, Chakothi, Chakkar etc, five days after the tragic event.

Dr Shabir Choudhry said I have personally spoken to some people at 06 am Pakistani time on Wednesday, and they said people were still waiting for help; and feared that their love ones most probably have not survived the ordeal. However it was now important to save those who were lying in the open injured and without any food and shelter.

JKLF leaders said no doubt it was a huge task, but it appears that authorities were slow to react. Pakistan has a big army, why it took so many days for this ‘efficient and brave army’ to get its act together and reach in some of the affected areas on the fourth day. We are concerned about negligence of our Kashmiri brothers and sisters, as some reports suggest that most of help is concentrated in Pakistani areas and many Kashmiri areas are left to help themselves.

We are also concerned that trucks full of necessary items, which were sent by people of Mirpur as a result of self help, were looted in Mansera, in Pakistan before they could reach their destination in Azad Kashmir. This is a double blow to us, said the JKLF leaders, and urged people to use roads inside Azad Kashmir to travel no doubt they are small and difficult roads to travel. It will take them longer but at least they will not be looted.

JKLF leaders said if there was a sovereign government in place of a puppet government in Muzaffarabad, then that government didn’t have to look towards Islamabad for help, as that government could have organised help according to needs of the people; and outside help could have directly landed inside Azad Kashmir instead of Islamabad and then transported at the mercy of Pakistani officials. Also if Pakistan had not disbanded the Azad Kashmir Army, then, at least, that army could have helped their brothers and sisters in this time of need.

JKLF leaders said It was still not too late, we must demand restoration of Azad Kashmir army and establishment of a sovereign government in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan. END

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