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September 26 2013 5 26 /09 /September /2013 06:47

Recalling Horror: ‘It happened in the twinkling of an eye

Survivors of the Balochistan earthquake walk on rubble of a mud house in Awaran after it collapsed. PHOTO: REUTERS

Mashkey tehsil in Awaran district is the area worst affected by Tuesday’s earthquake. Qaiser was in mourning with many others. He had lost his wife who bled to death when a wall fell on her as she was asleep. He had used his turban for dressing his own head injuries.


Confounded and distressed villagers in southwestern Balochistan struggled to get their loved ones and their possessions out of their mud houses that were reduced to debris and pieces of rock. The earthquake had struck around 4:15pm, a time when men are out at work and the women and children are resting at home.


“First our cities were being bombarded and targeted by military operating within Mashkey. Now we have to suffer this calamity,” he said.


Qaiser’s nephew, Abdullah Baloch, also lives in the same tehsil. “I thought I was in a bad dream. The earth shook as I lay there in my bed,” he recalled. “I saw the roof collapse and heard my family screaming in fear. It a few seconds my house had turned into rubble.”


Abdullah works as a mechanic in nearby Khuzdar district and had come back to Awaran to see his newborn boy. The happy moment of looking at a new life born soon turned into a horrifying moment when the earth shook and the quake struck to flatten his house.


His wife and six-year-old daughter managed to crawl out with only minor injuries. But his old and ailing mother did not make it alive. The debris covered her before she could come out.


“It is like we do not matter to anyone anymore. We don’t know where to go or how to protect our women and children.” No one has come to provide us relief, he said bitterly.


In Awaran region, the tribal and political leadership is practically non-existent. During the May 11 general elections, the winning MPA had got only 400 plus votes. It is accessible only through dilapidated dirt roads. The communication is almost non-existent.


A tribal leader from Kalat said that no relief, in any form or shape, has been received so far in Awaran.


“Since the authority in that area is being exercised by Frontier Corps (FC) and military personnel, no relief work has been allowed so far in order to confront militant groups,” he told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, a senior FC officer said that most of the stricken places in Awaran are highly risky areas for relief workers and provincial functionaries as it is a hub of Baloch nationalist militants.


Mashkay has been under the militant command of nationalist guerrilla commander, Dr Allah Nazar who has been confronting the FC and Pakistan Army for a long time.


It is possible that the paramilitary force does not want government organisations, including foreign relief workers, to witness human rights violations in the area.


“I guess everyone has to hide their own mess,” a politically aware Balochi remarked.

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