We have just received this urgent appeal from the comrades in Pakistan. The terrible earthquake that has devastated the north of Pakistan and India has had its worst effects in Kashmir. As if the inhabitants of this oppressed land had not suffered enough, nature has now inflicted an appalling calamity that falls heaviest on the poorest sections of society. As the letter explains, whole towns and villages have been demolished, killing tens of thousands.
We do not yet know how many comrades have died because the lines of communication have been badly affected. Many of the houses are demolished, and the people are in the open air, exposed to extreme climatological conditions, and there is no possibility of rebuilding starting until the spring.
As you probably know, the PTUDC has a big organization in Kashmir, composed of excellent young fighters. This tragedy will represent a setback in the short term. But we are sure that with our assistance, the comrades will recover quickly and build an even stronger organization. BUT THEY NEED OUR HELP.
The comrades representing the PTUDC in the whole of Pakistan have sent a delegation to Kashmir, to ascertain the level of the problem and the needs of the people. They are sending whatever aid they can muster to help the workers and trade unionists of Kashmir. There are also plans for a parliamentary delegation to visit the distressed areas led by comrade Manzoor Ahmed.
All this will require considerable resources, which the Pakistan comrades do not possess. We are therefore calling on every member of the international labour movement to give as generously as possible to the special appeal that we have launched today.
We appeal to every reader of Marxist.com to make a donation to the special earthquake appeal of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign.
Every cent will be put to good use. We ask you not to wait but to begin a serious campaign for raising funds NOW. You can send money by:
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URGENT Earthquake Appeal
As you must have heard that there has been a disastrous earthquake in the northern areas of Pakistan and Kashmir. According to the figures of the government of Pakistan more than 25,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands injured. The real totals will be far higher. Several towns, cities, and villages have been demolished. The government is unable and does not possess even the infrastructure to conduct rescue operations after this tragedy.
There were more than 350 comrades of the PTUDC and YFIS in the three main cities of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, namely Muzafferabad, Rawlakot and Bagh. These have been devastated. We do not yet know the full extent of the disaster. Mobile phones and landlines are disconnected. The only roads leading to these cities have been badly damaged and are now blocked after heavy landslides. There is no electricity and it is bitterly cold. There have been hailstorms for the last 20 hours, and the people have no shelter.
The PTUDC has sent five comrades from Lahore and Islamabad/Rawalpindi to Kashmir for relief and support efforts. They will try to reach these towns by whatever mode of transport, including climbing the mountains by foot. We have set up two emergency centres to coordinate these efforts that will be functioning round the clock. Comrade Sajjad is in charge of the Islamabad/ Rawalpindi centre and comrade Hina will be coordinating the work at Lahore centre.
We are mobilizing a delegation of 5 members of Parliament and several trade union leaders to launch a countrywide campaign to help the victims of this disaster. This delegation will visit Kashmir at the earliest opportunity to take part personally in the relief efforts.
The PTUDC appeals to our brothers and sisters, the trade unionists, workers, and citizens of Britain, Europe and internationally to help us in our campaign. We shall be setting up a centre to coordinate the relief efforts in London.An injury to one is injury to all!
We thank you for your support and solidarity.
Fraternally, Hina Zain National Coordinator Earth Quake Relief Committee PTUDC, Lahore
Ch. Manzoor Ahmed President PTUDC and Member of the Pakistan National Assembly, Islamabad. Islamabad-Lahore, 9 October 2005