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Foreign Media Reaction

October 13, 2005

KASHMIR'S 'BIG QUAKE':  'OLD ENEMIES TACKLE SHARED CRISIS'

KEY FINDINGS

**  This "calamity has once again spread the fragrance of Indo-Pak friendship."

**  Post-quake cooperation could be "most important confidence-building measure."

**  Pakistani outlets laud international relief efforts.

**  Some earthquake commentary identifies area as epicenter of Islamic extremism.

MAJOR THEMES

Replacing 'resentments' with 'quick assistance'--  The center-left Irish Times noted that within hours of the quake, India's PM Singh called Pakistan's Musharraf to offer assistance.  Media welcomed Pakistan's turnabout in accepting aid from "next-door enemy" India as an "encouraging sign" from these "old enemies."  They charted the cooperative opportunity open to these young "nuclear powers" along the Hindu Kush's "fault line."  The disaster provides a "not-to-be-missed historical opportunity" according to Turkey's mass-appeal Milliyet and a German outlet called assistance a "litmus test" that could result in a "humanitarian alliance" that brings India and Pakistan "closer than ever before."

'Political courage to seize the moment'--  A Thai paper and several others saw opportunities for Indo-Pak "rapprochement."  Similarly, India's centrist Gujaratmitra noted that Musharraf urged Indian and Pakistani armies to "work in tandem in the wake of this disaster."   Writers drew parallels with the "1999 quake that ended the hostility between Greece and Turkey."  Euro writers opined that "animosities...should not play a role" since "tragedy unites"; they urged avoidance of "selective assistance" saying it belongs to the "category of the biggest human sins."  An Italian analyst recalled that "nuclear arsenals, Islamic fundamentalism and religious fanaticism" marked the "historical conflict" between India and Pakistan, while the UK's conservative Daily Telegraph said the quake "offered a rare chance to warm...relations."

'Come forward to help affected brethren'--  Editorial treatment of international aid efforts was postive.  Pakistan's independent Din spotlighted:  "Leaders of the United States, Canada, Germany, and Britain contacted senior government officials immediately, expressed grief at the horrific earthquake and assured the provision of all-around help."  Another Pakistan outlet praised the "wonderful" global response as some bemoaned Pakistan's lack of appropriate rescue equipment.  Mass-circulation Nawa-e-Waqt found it "satisfactory that besides the international community, the people of all walks of life in the country stepped forward and fulfilled their obligation."

Hindu Kush's quake: 'Allah's punishment?'--  The locus of the tragedy sparked references to Islamic extremism.  Editorialists noted al-Qaida's view of Kashmir as a theater of its "holy war"; some saw earthquake relief as part of the "fight against international terrorism."  A Czech observer reminded the "earthquake affected regions that have for a long time 'produced' radical Islamists and terrorists," and Italy's center-right Il Giornale cautioned that enemies of General Musharraf and the West "could join forces" to replace Pakistan's current government "with an Islamic state spurred on by preachers insisting the earthquake was Allah's punishment."

Prepared by Media Reaction Division (202) 203-7888, rmrmail@state.gov

EDITOR:  Rupert D. Vaughan

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 45 reports from 16 countries over October 10-13, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.

EUROPE

BRITAIN:  "Hope Amid The Ruins"

An editorial in the conservative Times stated (10/12):  "Washington's adroit move in offering money and expertise is welcome at a time when Muslim suspicions of the U.S. are widespread.  The same is true in Britain.  Muslims unhappy about Iraq can see that the Government, and ordinary people, are eager to do what they can to relieve suffering."

"Pakistan will not forget: Why Have U.S., German and British forces In Afghanistan Not Been Mobilised To Save Lives?"

A commentary by columnist Tariq Ali in the left-of-center Guardian (10/12):  "A few miles to the north of the disaster zone there is a large fleet of helicopters belonging to the western armies occupying parts of Afghanistan.  Why could the U.S., German and British commanders not dispatch these to save lives?  Is the war so fierce that they are needed every day?  Three days after the earthquake, the U.S. released eight helicopters from 'war duty' to help transport food and water to isolated villages.  Too little, too late."

"Musharraf Is Facing His 'Katrina Moment'"

A commentary by columnist Ahmed Rashid in the conservative Daily Telegraph (10/12):  "In a few weeks, Musharraf will get back to the political business of trying to find a way to get himself elected as president in 2007 while staying as army chief.  But he may find, just as President Bush did, that disasters make people much more reluctant to accept the status quo."

"Musharraf Misses Chance To Mend Fences"

The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (10/11):  "The earthquake in the Hindu Kush literally shook the foundations of the boundary between India and Pakistan in Kashmir.  Yet it took a while to jolt General Pervez Musharraf out of accustomed ways of thinking on one of the great political fault lines of our day....  The greatest natural disaster in Pakistan's history offered a rare chance to warm the slight thaw in relations with India.  By first prevaricating, then accepting only limited help from a neighbor with vast resources, Gen Musharraf has displayed a depressing lack of imagination....  In the wake of Saturday's earthquake, Pakistan has not totally snubbed India.  But it should have made much quicker and more extensive capital our of New Delhi's offer.  With a fault line like that across the sub-continent, you need leaders with the political courage to seize the moment.  In failing to do so, Gen Musharraf has let down the earthquake's victims and damaged the long-term interests of his country."

FRANCE:  "Earthquake Diplomacy"

Pierre Rousselin opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/12):  “As opposed to other recent natural disasters, the earthquake in Kashmir is centered exactly where the world’s geo-political equilibrium is most threatened.  The geo-political consequences of the disaster will depend on how the post-crisis management is handled....  The fact that Pakistan has accepted India’s offer of assistance is an encouraging sign....  A rapprochement between Greece and Turkey had followed the 1999 earthquake....  Let us hope that India and Pakistan, who have already initiated steps towards their re-conciliation, will be similarly inspired....  In Kashmir, the devastation is such that survival overtakes political considerations....  If rescue efforts are successful, they can reduce the influence of Islamic radicals.  Conversely, if they are not, President Musharaff will come out weakened and the extremists will regain new power. These stakes are well understood by all: in Islamabad as well as Washington. This is why the U.S. is mobilizing all its means available in the region.”

GERMANY:    Where The Disaster Rules"

Ulrich Ladurner observed in center-left, weekly Die Zeit of Hamburg (10/13):  "Fortune is not at home in Pakistan, neither now when tens of thousands of people died in the quake nor in the past.  Fortune has been bypassing Pakistan for the state was founded in 1947.  Mourning is Pakistan's middle name.  The birth of the country cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.  In the decades after it, Pakistan was at three painful wars with India, and lost a great deal of its territory, today's Bangladesh.  Everything we fear in the West can be found in Pakistan: fundamentalism, terrorism, and nuclear bombs.  It is like god created this place by combining the modern horrors to be released to the world one day."

"The Quake Fuels Fears Of The Neighbor"

Willi Germund noted in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (10/13):  "Islamabad's military feared in the first two days after the quake that India could seize the opportunity and attack the country after its defense system faltered.  While the army's leadership said 400 soldiers died, it rather looks like 2,000 troops were killed.  Mistrusting the neighbor, Islamabad only deployed half of its transportation helicopters for emergency operations....  600,000 survivors in the region are outraged....  On the other hand, fundamentalist Islamic groups show how to provide assistance.  They send in doctors and distribute blankets to those injured."

"Even The Quake Did Not Shake It"

Hinnerk Berlekamp commented in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (10/12):  "Three days after the devastating quake in Kashmir it looks as if reason could prevail over pride.  Pakistan accepted 25 tons of goods from India, only a day after President Musharraf had rejected the first offer of the next-door enemy.  There is hope that the disaster that hit both countries could let the archrivals forget their hatred, similar to the 1999 quake that ended the hostility between Greece and Turkey.  Something similar happened in Indonesia between the government and the rebels after the Tsunami hit last December.  Both conflicts had been seen as unsolvable so far.  Why shouldn't it be possible to do something in Kashmir that had worked in Aceh?  There is no reason why the hostility between India and Pakistan must last forever, but there are irrational arguments; both countries are young nuclear powers that might not be mature enough to bear the responsibility they have.  Leading groups in Delhi and Islamabad still believe one does not have to make compromises if one possesses nuclear bombs."

"Pakistan's Test"

Michael Stürmer commented in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/11):  "The big quake turned into an hour of truth for the country that reaches out to nuclear weapons and fighting a smoldering war over the Line of Control in Kashmir, but it does not posses appropriate clearing equipment and helicopters to help their own people.  The army must ask itself whether it properly protects the country.  This question is dynamite, and Islamists will not miss their opportunity here....  Americans did not wait a second after the [Pakistani] president asked for help, dispatching transport helicopters from Afghanistan and starting to act right away.  Al-Jazeera and other Arabic TV stations, which usually do not think much of the United States, must now broadcast pictures of Americans who generously rescue lives.  Also Europeans, often critical of the U.S., should be ashamed."

"Needs And Opportunities"

Ewald Stein argued in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf  (10/11):  "The fact that India promptly offered help to the Pakistanis, although the country itself has many victims, could be seen as a positive development.  This would be even better if the ruling administration in Islamabad accepts the assistance.  There must not be any excuse, such as false pride, for not acceptance the help.  This would brutally affront the Pakistani victims of the quake.  Animosities and resentments should not play a role when it is about the pure survival.  In addition, Pakistani President Musharraf has the opportunity for a great political gesture, which cannot be underestimated."

"The Devastating Conflict"

Arne Perras observed in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/10):   "India and Pakistan have the opportunity and duty in the hour of need to advance their tentative process of rapprochement.  The quake assistance will become a litmus test for the two countries' willingness to overcome the decades of conflict....  India and Pakistan must think and act out of the box in the Kashmir conflict.  This is the best time for it.  The resentments must be replaced by quick assistance for the victims.  Delhi and Islamabad must open paths over the Line of Control.  Without India's support it will be even more difficult to reach some of the devastated regions in Pakistan.  This could become a new and curing experience for the two heavily armed armies, which suspiciously watched each other in the past.   If the humanitarian alliance succeeds, India and Pakistan could get closer than ever before.  The timing for such a quake diplomacy is very good."

ITALY:  "We Do Not Want To Play With The Pakistan Of The Poor"

Gianni Riotta editorialized in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (10/12):  "Take for example the media’s annoyed indifference in covering this tremendous earthquake that hit Pakistan.  It is a key nation in the war on terrorism with al-Qaida leaders, possibly even Usama bin Ladin, living along its borders, and it is the homeland of scientist Abdul Quadeer Khan who sold nuclear secrets, as if they were kebab.  And if now, after 30 thousand dead, a young generation completely erased, and with the Talibans on the offensive in Afghanistan (16 dead), Pervez Musharraff’s regime gives in to radical insurgents, our world would be exposed [to the threat of] an arsenal of nuclear missiles in a Pakistan ruled by terrorists.  This earthquake represents an immediate political challenge, but in order to understand it, we should put ourselves in the place of those poor refugees in Kashmir."

"Pakistan, Now Al-Qaida Aims To Topple The Musharraf Government"

Massimo Introvigne in pro-government, leading center-right daily Il Giornale (10/11):  "For the time being, only the separatist groups of Indian Kashmir, that are part of the al-Qaida network, are explicitly urging to take advantage of the post-earthquake period in Pakistan to topple the pro-American government of General Musharraf.  The two great forces of Islamic opposition--the deoband movement, of which Jamiyyat Ulama-I Islam (JUI) and the fundamentalists of the Jama’at-i Islami (JI) are a part...talks of Allah’s great punishment for the sins of the President and the government, but promises a truce and cooperation in the reconstruction....  JUI and JI consider the return of Indian Kashmir to Pakistan as a holy war, but they have strong reservations toward the principle terrorist formation in the area, Harkatul-Mujhadedin, and disapprove of its ties with al-Qaida.  Neither the deoband nor the fundamentalists want to repeat the mistake of the Afghani Taleban...and become the allies of Bin Ladin, whom they distrust.  In the convulsive climate after the earthquake, the contradictions between JI and JUI and the JI-JUI cartel and al-Qaida, could explode, thereby helping Musharraf to remain in power.  Or, oppositely...all the enemies of the General and of the West could join forces to replace the current military dictatorship with an Islamic state spurred on by preachers insisting that the earthquake was Allah’s punishment."

"Another Wound Is Opened Over Kashmir"

Alberto Negri’s analysis in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore read (10/9):  "Nuclear arsenals, Islamic fundamentalism and religious fanaticism, the historical conflict between Pakistan’s hyper-nationalism and that of India over Kashmir: the geopolitics of this part of South East Asia, shocked yesterday by a tremendous earthquake, remains as unstable and unforeseeable as the geopolitical situation of Himalayan bloc....  Musharraf has been forced to fight on two fronts:  The outside world accuses Islamabad of tolerating Islamic fundamentalists, on the inside Musharraf finds it hard to impose his vision as the ‘Pakistani Ataturk,’ in a country where Islamic people are used by both the intelligence and the Army for wars in Kashmir and Afghanistan."

RUSSIA:  "Remembering Katrina"

Yelena Ogneva wrote in reformist Novyye Izvestiya (10/12):  "The earthquake in South Asia is increasingly reminiscent of hurricane Katrina.  Just like Louisiana, Kashmir is in the epicenter of a disaster, its capital Muzaffarabad swept off the face of the earth, following New Orleans' fate.  Sad analogies don't end there, though.  Hundreds of Pakistanis, braving cold and hunger, sit on the ruins of their homes, awaiting help, exactly as Americans did a month ago.  Despairing of getting any, people raid what few stores have survived.  As they seek food and water, Pakistanis have so far refrained from using arms, but that may change if help does not come soon."

"A Quake For The Poor"

Sergey Chugayev commented in youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (10/11):  "The July bombings in London that killed 75 people shocked the world.   A  day of global mourning was announced.  Even the UN stopped working to observe it.  In many capitals, including Moscow, people brought flowers to the British Embassies.  In December of 2004, a train blast in Madrid killed 200 people. World leaders expressed their condolences, and send their representatives to Spain to attend a mourning ceremony.  EU member-countries observed a minute of silence.  The UN did not.  Now a rescue operation is under way in Pakistan.  Around 40,000 died in the earthquake. Rescue teams and humanitarian aid are being flown in from across the world.  But no day of global mourning has been announced.  Nor has the UN taken a break to remember the dead. The impression is that everything in this world has been rated and assigned a place, with all states divided among the First World, Second World, and Third World.  Based on that, it appears that 75 Britons matter more than 200 Spaniards or even tens of thousands of Pakistanis.  Didn't God make us all equal?"

"Asia Doomed?"

Sergey Minenko and Anton Trofimov opined on the front page of centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/11):  "In the region, which accounts for more than a half of the world's population, every emergency becomes a global disaster.  A catastrophic gap between the number of population in those countries and the way they are equipped technically is what makes natural calamities there so deadly."

"Shaken Land"

Pavel Sviridov held in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (10/11):  "The humanitarian aid being offered to the victims of the tragedy has given rise to political speculation.   Sources in U.S. special services assert America's Number One enemy, Osama bin Ladin, may have been hiding in the quake-stricken area in Pakistan.   The Americans, it is said, have offered aid to that country, hoping to get bin Ladin, dead or alive.  In the meantime, the residents of ruined towns and villages are fighting for survival, seeking missing relatives and burying the dead. They don't care

about big-time politics and the international war on terrorism."

CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Earthquake Plays Into The Hands Of Terrorists"

William Buchert comments in the centrist MF Dnes (10/12):  "The catastrophic earthquake affected regions that have for a long time 'produced' radical Islamists and terrorists....  We can safely expect that the radicals will use this disaster to strengthen their positions and their grip over the society … they have already started distributing food and medication...and harshly criticize the government.  The Pakistani non-democratic government, although a U.S. ally in the war against terrorism, has not been able to do anything with these radical Islamists...who teach in their schools that Hitler was one of the heroes of WWII for trying to wipe out the Jews.  They claim that the government is incapable of helping its people; they make the most of the misery of the locals who will send their sons to broaden the ranks of 'God’s warriors' in exchange for some nice lump of money....  The further spread of the true faith (in this case Islam) and evil (terrorism) can be another aftermath of this natural catastrophe, especially if the regional governments are not able to respond as quickly as the separatists, extremists or the Islamists."   

"Nature Does Not Care About Hatchets"

Petra Prochazkova opines in the center-right daily Lidove Noviny (10/11):  "Hostile states Turkey and Greece suddenly started to help each other after the earthquake in 1999.  And India, which has been quarreling with Pakistan over Kashmir for decades, also offered its assistance to its neighbor right away, despite the fact that it had lost hundreds of its citizens in the disaster.  Tragedy unites and speculations that assistance to the region should be selective belongs to the category of the biggest human sins."

"Let's Be Grateful For Earthquakes"

Petr Jakes opines suggests in the leading, centrist daily MF Dnes (10/11):  "Earthquakes and human suffering connected with it has its 'positive' side [however odd it might sound].  It will raise the level of human unity, solidarity, and empathy.  Let's get used to the fact that disasters like earthquakes happen and they cannot be entirely predicted for the time being.  Let's not get used to catastrophes which can be prevented like Srebrenica, Treblinka, Gaza."

IRELAND:  "Old Enemies Tackle Shared Crisis"

Rahul Bedi commented from New Delhi in the center-left Irish Times (10/10):  "The devastating earthquake to strike India and Pakistan offers a new opportunity for the nuclear-armed neighbours to overcome past hostilities as they tackle a shared humanitarian crisis in the Kashmir region they have long fought over.  Within hours of Saturday's earthquake, India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, called up Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, and offered relief and rescue assistance, as did his foreign minister… 'This is an opportunity when India and Pakistan can forget their differences,' N.M. Prusty, head of emergency relief at the international aid agency Care's India office said. This tragedy would provide both of them with an opportunity to share their concerns and offer help to each other, he added."

TURKEY:  "Opportunity Came With The Disaster"

Sami Kohen wrote in the mass-appeal Milliyet (10/12):  "One of the countries that immediately sent relief aid to Pakistan is India.  India is considered an enemy of Pakistan due to the Kashmir problem.  But the earthquake disaster brought the two sides together as Pakistan accepted India’s offer of help.  Let’s remember that Pakistan and India were close to declaring war on each other in 2002 over Kashmir....  The earthquake in 1999 brought Turkey and Greece closer together.  Similarly, the tsunami disaster led to an agreement on Indonesia-Aceh.  The disaster in Kashmir can be a tool to initiate a genuine peace process between India and Pakistan.  This seems to be a not-to-be-missed historical opportunity."

MIDDLE EAST

SAUDI ARABIA:   "Challenges Of Relief Work"

Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (10/12):  "The earthquakes were strong and sudden and the results of the tragedy are wide ranging and escalating. Some ramifications of the tragedy touch Islamic solidarity and the relief of brothers....  The official aid was instant as Saudi Arabia launched an air-bridge to the afflicted areas....  Islamic aid can be effective if Islamic organizations work to their full capacity....  We are facing a catastrophe that resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands in very difficult terrain....  Pakistan is a developing country that lacks basic infrastructure....  The complications and difficulties suggest the future of Islamic humanitarian work....  Great efforts are needed to do this humanitarian work, otherwise, this will be an indication of absence of Islamic cooperation and solidarity.        

"A Common Challenge"

Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (10/11):  "Earthquakes, hurricanes, and volcanoes are all WMD that do not distinguish between countries and continents.  Hurricanes in the U.S., the Indian Ocean tsunami, and the latest earthquakes in Asia are all attacks of nature that cannot be stopped. The Kingdom’s quick human aid reached the afflicted areas in Pakistan and India.  Such initiatives are required from all over the world similar to these for Hurricane Katrina."

ASIA PACIFIC

AUSTRALIA:  "Pakistan's Tragic News"

An editorial from the liberal Melbourne Age stated (10/11): “The tragic news from Pakistan is the latest in a succession of natural disaster horror stories from around the world this year.  As long as the international community continues tackling planning, response and recovery from disaster in ad hoc fashion, the greater the chances will be of bigger and more catastrophic outcomes.  Globally, governments ignore the impact of climate change and an emerging pattern of weather-related disasters at their peril. The UN Hyogo Declaration signed in January made disaster reduction a UN priority over the next decade. The UN needs to promote such action sooner rather than later.  Meanwhile, the people of Pakistan urgently need help. The response in terms of physical and financial aid from the U.S., Japan, Russia, Australia (which yesterday pledged a further $5 million) and other nations is welcome.  But this is another disaster that will demand the help of the international community for years, rather than days, to come.”

JAPAN:  "Pakistan Earthquake Relief Is Part Of Fight Against International Terrorism" 

The top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized (10/12): "The massive earthquake that struck northern Pakistan last Saturday, reportedly claiming the lives of more than 40,000 people, was unprecedented in this part of the world. Pakistani President Musharraf is appealing to the international community for help. Japan must work closely with the world community to provide emergency aid and reconstruction assistance.... Pakistan is on the front line in the war on terror, having severed ties with the Taliban following 9/11 and joined the international community to fight terrorism."

"Save As Many Victims As Possible"

An editorial in the liberal Asahi observed (10/10):  "Saturday's huge earthquake in Kashmir was an extremely serious incident for Pakistani President Musharraf, who has been criticized both at home and abroad for 'betraying Islam' by turning his back on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and supporting the U.S. war on terror after 9/11, becoming the target of assassination on several occasions. It is difficult to say that the foundation of the Musharraf government is solid; a botched response to the earthquake could leave it greatly shaken....  At any rate, the utmost efforts should be made to rescue as many people trapped under the rubble as possible and provide them with food, medicine, and shelter. Once again, the international community has quickly sprung into action."

SINGAPORE:  "Kashmir"

Singapore's Berita Harian in Malay wrote (Internet version 10/12):  "The fact is that political upheaval has damaged the huge potential of Kashmir as the most beautiful tourism spot in the world.  With the attempts of India and Pakistan to be friendly, the two countries have great opportunities to build up Kashmir together....  The intervention of the United Nations, pressure from the United States and advice from Islamic organizations may encourage this unfortunate region to create peace....  International attention will also reveal the extent of the capability and sincerity of the Pakistani and Indian governments in resolving the repeated misery of Kashmir." 

"South Asia Earthquake"

Academic Huang Qi Shu remarked in Lianhe Zaobao in Chinese (Internet version 10/12):  "The U.S. government is paying very close attention to the earthquake in Pakistan, and has two major worries: First, the earthquake region is precisely the area where the Pakistani army is wiping out al-Qaida and remaining Taleban forces, and this will have a negative effect on the U.S.' fight against terrorism; and second, the support rate for [Pakistani President Pervez] Musharraf is dropping constantly in the areas hit by the earthquake, which brings one misfortune after another.  If the lives of the people are in difficulty, young people will take risks to participate in terrorism."

"Even Tragedy Can Have A Silver Lining"

Former editorial consultant Sunanda K. Datta-Ray commented in The Straits Times in English (Internet version 10/12):  "The earthquake has taken a toll of about 30,000 Pakistani lives and nearly 1,000 in India. Tragedy of this magnitude gives an impetus to peace initiatives and international cooperation....   Just as India and Pakistan can hurt each other most, they can also give the most help....  Even tragedy can have a silver lining."

THAILAND:  "Opportunity In Tragedy"

The lead editorial in the independent, English-language The Nation read (10/11):  "It may be wishful thinking, but by offering mutual assistance, this humanitarian crisis could very well turn out to be the most important confidence-building measure in the history of Pakistani-Indian relations....  Both Pakistan and India may find in this shared crisis, with their deeply felt sense of loss and grief, a unique opportunity for developing a sense of solidarity and begin to regard each other in a new and positive light."         

SOUTH ASIA

INDIA:   "Seize The Moment In Jammu And Kashmir" 

Harish Khare expressed the view in the left-of-center Hindu (10/13):  "For some time now Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been arguing that while borders between India and Pakistan cannot be changed they can be rendered irrelevant, allowing the divided people of Jammu and Kashmir greater access both ways across the Line of Control. Well, now the irrelevance of the LoC has been demonstrated in terms of death, devastation, and destruction. Both sides of the divided State stand united in grief and bereavement. Pakistan, unfortunately, turned down an Indian offer of joint relief and rescue operations, but Islamabad has had the good sense to accept humanitarian help from New Delhi....  By all accounts the traumatized citizens in Jammu and Kashmir have discovered, probably much to their surprise, that Indian security personnel did not behave like an occupying army but, instead, performed a healing role. It is too early to say whether this new experience will obliterate the cumulative resentment and anger that the Kashmiris have felt all these years towards the Indian soldier. Nonetheless, the images of Indian Air Force helicopters making rescue sorties and ferrying the injured to field hospitals will remain etched in the Kashmiri mind for some time."

"A Tragedy And An Opportunity"

The centrist Hindu editorialized (10/11): “Natural disasters recognize no boundaries, present nobody to blame, and can affect people across the socio-economic divide. The massive earthquake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale with its epicenter in the Hindu Kush mountains, exhibited all these three characteristics....  The scale of devastation in POK is so great that the destruction on the Indian side, huge though it is in absolute terms, pales in comparison....  The terrible tragedy may have taken place in disputed territory but it has united the two parties that stake claim to it, India and Pakistan, in a common grief.  At one level, New Delhi's offer of rescue and relief assistance, which was made just hours after the earthquake by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to President Musharraf, reflected the new warmth in ties....  It may be far too optimistic to expect that the earthquake will pay a large peace dividend, but some sort of cooperation between the two countries can and must be set in place....  The earthquake has damaged Aman Setu, the bridge connecting the two parts of Kashmir that symbolizes the thaw in their ties.  It will be repaired shortly but the tragedy has offered New Delhi and Islamabad a greater opportunity: that of establishing an emotional bridge between the two countries.”

"Terror In Scabbard?" 

The centrist Gujarati Divya Bhaskar remarked (10/11):  “At the time when the casualty figures of those killed in Saturday’s deadliest earthquake in Pakistan is rising continuously, the newspaper offices in the Valley received unusual faxed letters.  The terrorist organizations operating from the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have declared a temporary moratorium on their activities [indulging in terrorist acts] and have instead decided to focus their attention towards the relief and rehabilitation of the earthquake victims.  This so-called ‘suspension’ of activities was announced after a meeting of some fourteen terrorist outfits with the Hizbul leader Syed Salaluddin in the wake of this natural disaster.  Only time will tell how long the militants remain committed to this self-proclaimed ‘ceasefire.’  This was quite evident by the fact that terrorists allegedly belonging to the Hizbul-Mujaheedin group gunned down ten people in the Valley’s Rajouri district.  Although violence is not new in the Valley, the timings of such inhuman acts force one to think about the devilish mindset of the perpetrators of the crime.  Such elements do not have any moral right to speak of relief and rehabilitation.”

"Uproar And Upheaval"

The Mumbai edition of right-of-center Marathi daily Saamna opined (10/10:)  “India and Pakistan are together facing nature’s wrath. The Kashmir valley, which has been affected by cross-border-terrorism and warfare for the last fifty years, now has been hit by a deadly earthquake which has caused damage to both the countries....  Natural calamites like tsunamis and earthquakes equate all human beings at one level--the powerful President Bush and also the dictator General Pervez Musharraf....  George W. Bush is a stupid person.  He recently claimed that Jesus Christ came in his dreams and ordered him to invade Iraq.  But it is surprising that Christ asked him to kill innocent people in Iraq....  Bush the ‘superman’ should have also known of the hurricane that hit the U.S. and the earthquake that hit Pakistan.  Similarly, Musharraf claims that all that happens in this world is as per Allah’s will.  Does that include the earthquake aftermath as well?...  It is time for both India and Pakistan to set aside their differences over Kashmir and pay attention to the religion of humanity.  Both the neighbors can flourish only when they cut down the huge amounts they spend on their border security.”

"The Fragrance Of Friendship In The Midst Of Devastation"

The Mumbai edition of the centrist Gujarati Gujaratmitra editorialized (10/10): “Last Saturday's earthquake, the century’s deadliest one, has caused immeasurable loss to life and property in both India and Pakistan.  The devastation and destruction caused by this disaster has once again brought back the memories of the killer earthquake that wrecked Kutch [Gujarat] in 2001....  Apart from the civilians on both sides of the border, even the Indian soldiers became the victims of this natural calamity....  However, this calamity has once again spread the fragrance of Indo-Pak friendship and brought the two warring neighbors closer to each other.  Pakistan has been the worst affected by Saturday’s earthquake.  Besides, India is capable enough to deal with such a crisis.  It is but natural, then, that as a major player in South Asia, India lives up to the expectation of providing all necessary assistance to Pakistan in overcoming this crisis.  Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf of all possible help from India.  On his part, the Pakistani President has called for both Indian and Pakistani armies to work in tandem in the wake of this disaster.  Even Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who targeted Musharraf during last assembly elections in Gujarat, has offered all necessary assistance.  All this reveals the humanitarian approach by leaders of both the countries.”

PAKISTAN:  "Prudence Required To Face National Tragedy"

An editorial in the second largest Urdu Nawa-e-Waqt stated (10/13):  "America has sent financial assistance and helicopters and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has already arrived in Islamabad and met high ups.  Pakistani nation is thankful to any country that helps Pakistan in this hour of trial.  But time has come for the government to withdraw itself from the American war against terrorism and pay attention to alleviating the suffering of the people....  No one objects on seeking cooperation of specialists for relief and rescue work, but arrival of thousands of foreign soldiers for the purpose is perhaps perplexing and cause of shame.  It would be better to withdraw 70,000 troops from northwest frontier and Wana Operation and deploy them on rescue and relief operation in order to speed up the progress of the relief work....  Pakistan government should not extend its open heartedness to Israel and India, it has no justification for that."

"Foreign Aid For Earthquake Victims"

An editorial in Popular Islamabad-based Urdu Ausaf (10/12):  "The United Nations, the U.S., the UK and 29 other countries have provided relief aid and supplies to Pakistan to assist in the rescue and relief operations in the quake affected areas.  Many foreign leaders have also assured President Musharraf that Pakistan would not be left alone at this tragic moment.  This commitment and spirit shown by the international community, to offer help to the fellow human beings is commendable....  Now the important thing is that this foreign assistance should be used appropriately, and the relief operation should be accomplished as soon as possible."

"Black Saturday And The Neglect" 

An editorial in the centrist national English-language The News stated (10/12):  "The school children, as thousands of others, were crying for help from beneath the rubble of various schools, but people mourned and prayed in helplessness as they waited in vain for more than two days for any rescue operation. And the story of death and misfortune doesn't end here as the death toll rises beyond official understatement. Most reports from far-flung areas invariably suggest that no one has gone to the rescue of the victims, even after 55 hours, except one or two big towns or unending aerial surveys. However, many "fortunate" buried under the debris of Margalla Tower Apartments in Islamabad were rescued, thanks to the efforts by Rapid Rescue Force sent by the UK and media focus on the capital's privileged. Why are people protesting? Whom should they curse? The nature? The state authorities attuned to killing, not rescuing? Or beg for forgiveness from the Almighty? Find fault with our own un-preparedness and a flawed course of 'development'?"

"In The Aftermath Of Tragedy, Honor And Fortitude"

The Lahore-based liberal English-language Daily Times wrote (10/11):  "Meanwhile, we would be remiss not to mention the wonderful response of the international community to our call for help.  Countries across the globe have contributed to the relief effort, and many foreigners have already arrived to participate physically in rescue efforts.  Foreign governments are also sending much-needed equipment and other necessities to help the survivors of the tragedy.  The manner in which the world has joined hands to help Pakistan shows that humanity transcends ethnic, linguistic and religious boundaries and particularities. This should be another lesson for those who cherish millenarian tendencies and are bent upon shedding blood on the basis of religion and other such markers. This lesson too must be heeded and not forgotten."

"Relief Package For Earthquake Victims And The Nation's Responsibility"

An editorial in the populist Urdu Khabrain stated (10/11):  "This difficult time can come on any place.  Making a one-time donation will not do, the need is for the nation to help the government at every stage of this relief operation.  Many institutions including 'Khabrain' have announced donating one-day's salary for the earthquake victims.  We hope every individual of this nation will realize his/her responsibility and help out as much as possible."

"The Need To Learn From The Earthquake Devastation"

The independent Urdu Din editorialized (10/11):  "One can only be grieved at the inefficiency of this and previous governments in that there is no trained manpower or required machinery to deal with such a disaster.  While one can understand the argument regarding Azad Kashmir and NWFP that reaching these areas is impossible due to road blockage, but relief work started late even in the country's capital Islamabad on the 7-story building that collapsed due to the earthquake....   Now that it has been proven that a large part of Pakistan can face earthquakes, this factor must be kept in mind while constructing buildings.  Similarly, safety precautions must be borne regarding fire from electricity or gas.  Most importantly, a department must be instituted to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters, which should be equipped to the fullest.  It would be a major achievement if the present earthquake has taught us this lesson." 

"Earthquake Victims' Rescue And Recovery"

An editorial in the second largest Urdu Nawa-e-Waqt (10/11):  "This is satisfactory that besides the international community, the people of all walks of life in the country stepped forward and fulfilled their obligation.  Relief goods and rescue teams have reached Islamabad from many countries....  These aid efforts need to be coordinated and the government should devise a strategy for that."

"Come Forward To Help Affected Brethren"

An editorial in the independent Urdu daily Din stated (10/10):  "Reports are gradually coming in regarding the aftermath of the earthquake.  According to experts it will take two to three weeks to make the actual estimate of loss of life and property....   It is, however, encouraging that due to the better credibility of the government at the international level, the international community has announced unstinted support for earthquake affectees....   Leaders of the United States, Canada, Germany, and Britain contacted senior government officials immediately, expressed grief at the horrific earthquake and assured the provision of all-around help."

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

CANADA:  "For Victims' Sake, Pull Together"

Foreign affairs columnist Marcus Gee commented in the leading Globe and Mail (10/12):  "In a sane world, Indian troops would be rushing into Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and Pakistani troops into Indian-controlled Kashmir, to clear rubble, set up tent cities and deliver food and medicine. To the shame of both countries, it hasn't happened....  Sensitivities? When thousands of victims are living outdoors in the bitter night cold because they don't have a roof over their heads?  When the bodies of the dead are rotting in the street?  When mothers and fathers are clawing through piles of schoolhouse wreckage to search for their children?  When the severely injured are in crowded camps waiting for a helicopter--Indian, Pakistani, what do they care?--to take them to hospital?  Surely this is the time to put aside old rivalries and pull together for the sake of the victims.... This would be an ideal time for the leaders of India and Pakistan to follow suit and reach out to each other.  The magnitude of this quake makes quarrels over borders and national pride seem petty by comparison, and the Kashmir dispute is no exception.... If Pakistan were to stop arming and training Muslim militants on its side of the line, and New Delhi loosened its often harsh rule on the Indian side, it would ease the tension that has kept these two nuclear-armed nations at each other's throats for so long. The first step, though, must be to work together on earthquake relief.  It might pave the way for a deal.  It would certainly save lives."

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