The initial shock of the earthquake in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir is beginning to turn into anger as millions of people are left without shelter in the cold and rain. There are reports coming in from Kashmir of children dying from hypothermia and people starving to death. The reaction of the regime has been characterized by chaos and bungling.
The Dawn in Pakistan was today reporting that many residents of Kashmir are angry at the slow and ineffective response to the disaster. People are desperate for aid and trucking companies are now refusing to deliver supplies due to the terrible conditions and reports of violence. Instead, they are dropping off supplies at various army barracks. One truck driver said today “My experience has been very bad… I’m going to take the rest of my stuff back from here and dump it at the army camp. They can be responsible for distributing it.” Doctors have arrived in Kashmir and have commented on the utter chaos and confusion, explaining that they are there to help but that there is no organization or coordination – they do not know where to go and no one seems capable of telling where they should go to help. The government pleads for patience and understanding as people are left out to die.
In one village just outside of Muzaffarabad, villagers who have lost absolutely everything have received no help and are seething with anger. One villager said, “If they find a government official here he will die.” As we reported earlier this week, this earthquake has exposed the rottenness of the Musharraf regime.
In these terrible conditions the PTUDC is attempting to organize assistance for working class victims of the earthquake in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. As reported yesterday the PTUDC has sent a team of doctors from Multan and today we are organizing the sending of 200 tents to help people with no shelter.
Many members of the PTUDC have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and families and are desperate for help. To make matters worse, it is difficult to get basic supplies, tents, and clothing because prices have gone up from 100%-300%. It is a disgrace that there are those who are speculating and profiteering on people’s misery.
Tomorrow the PTUDC will hold a press conference to announce the launching of a solidarity convoy of at least 20 trucks from Kasur in the Punjab. Kasur is the constituency of Manzoor Ahmed, Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and President of the PTUDC. Manzoor has already put down a motion in parliament but his main concern is work outside parliament. He will be personally present on the solidarity convoy which will pass from village to village and city to city collecting support, aid, and supplies for the working class victims of the earthquake.
The PTUDC’s international solidarity campaign has swung into action raising well over £1000 over the last few days. Donations have been made from the United States, the UK, Norway, Australia, Finland, France, and Sweden. We received news yesterday that £500 had been donated from an NUJ branch in London and that several hundred pounds had been raised from trades councils in the city. We would like to express our gratitude and thanks to all of those who have donated and offered their assistance.
The response to our appeal has been truly amazing, but we need to raise more money to pay for the supplies, convoys, and medicines that we will be sending to the worst affected areas of Kashmir and Pakistan.
We will publish a report of tomorrow’s press conference and will have regular reports on the progress of our team of doctors and our solidarity convoy. We appeal to all those who can to help us in our efforts to aid those who need it most, the poor and working class victims of the earthquake.
For more information on how to make a donation please see:
Pakistan earthquake: an appeal for the Kashmiri workers