Wed Oct 26th - The News (By Asim
is a reality all mortals have to face. How life hands
its existence over to death makes people learn. Lessons
can be learned provided one takes heed and absorbs them
for feelings, intentions and actions. The October 8
earthquake was nature's jolt for the ones who have survived.
For others who lost their dear ones, life will never
be the same; its perspective has changed for times to
come. Much has been said about the agony through various
forms of media and personal observations.
The reality of life is that tomorrow will come and future
has already begun. Have we learned anything, are we
pondering over our moral and social fabric? The value
system of the society needs a deep analysis for improvement
otherwise Mother Nature would not have given us the
jolt. The feeling of an earthquake is no less than a
mother throwing away her child and behaving indifferently.
It is rare but happens out of dire compulsion, frustration
or agony all to give a wake up call.
Generally speaking, we know and believe that mothers
are not wrong and only act in the interest of their
most precious product, the child. Why would a mother
even scare a child whom she has nurtured as part of
her soul, mind and body? Compare the mother-child relationship
with an earthquake in which the hammering of the earth
is synonymous with the extreme reaction of mother to
her child. Do we get the message, can we ponder and
learn? We must.
It is time for us to balance logic and faith, take the
lesson and seek for individual and collective improvement.
This will evolve into a religious debate for which,
neither am I the right person nor is it the objective
of this article. This catastrophe has turned into a
huge management exercise and now we need to rescue the
lives of people in short term and in the longer term
give them a better future than the past they have lost.
In the longer term, this includes both a proper value
system and an infrastructure to prosper morally, socially
and economically. It is time to think and plan beyond
immediate relief in terms of safe shelter, warm clothing,
food, medical support, communication link with the outside
world and access roads.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the main affected area is nature's
paradise on planet earth. Unfortunately, it has been
thought otherwise. People who have had the chance to
live or travel into Neelam Valley can better understand
this. The basic infrastructure has been non-existent
and we have never been able to look beyond the territorial
dispute. Our thinking has been subordinated to warfare
mind set and circumstances. People residing or the ones
who used to reside there could understand this better.
In the wake of this massive tragedy lies an opportunity.
It is time to explore the true potential of this area
and its people. Unfortunately, it took this catastrophe
for this thought to evolve.
The eyes of the world are focused on this area and it
is time to start planning a great future for the ones
who have survived as a matter of small payback to them.
Execution of any idea will be the key. Funds are and
will be made available based on the idea and the cause.
In this case; we have both the reason and the spirit.
Can we plan, present and execute? In Pakistan and outside,
at the public as well as private level, will contribute
generously provided we can channelize this passion with
This is now a management challenge. Army has been and
will be the key variable in the rehabilitation and reconstruction
exercise. They know the area well and are managing proper
distribution and logistics set up to bring relief. We
must appreciate not criticize them. They will have to
lead this exercise with the private sector, including
NGO's. Formation of a Relief Commission is the beginning
but in the longer run, we have to think beyond the immediate
remedy, leap of faith and moral resurrection.
The beginning of the longer term plan other than the
arrangement of funds and goods is to draw a master plan
based on the natural advantage, which exists in the
form of people, culture, passion to resurrect and tourism
potential. Explore and develop the core competencies
of the people and the location. Think business for the
local people and for the donors. Create a better future
for them, establish model villages and name them after
the people or the donors. Let the inhabitants be employed
and empowered to develop and subsequently own the place.
Do not give them a fish; tell them how to catch it for
times to come.
Within this massive reconstruction exercise, each local
should be treated as an employee working for the cause
and associated with some form of development. People
can be employed in hospitals, schools, adoption homes,
tourist resorts, roads and other infrastructure construction.
Instead of financing big time, we can micro-finance
and open up vocational training institutes to train
for the required skills. This will allow them ownership
at the cost of economic and personal shareholding.
This is possible if the intentions are neat and we treat
this as a management exercise to develop a new city
based on its own economic and social well being rather
than being on the respirator in the form of aid for
the next few years. Evolve a proper system with transparency
to allow the requisite confidence to the private sector
to invest. Why would anyone deny the offer if it serves
both a human and economic purpose. Companies are like
humans and understand well their responsibility in terms
of economic, social and human aspects.
How to go about it? Let army and the locals take a lead
role and form a committee comprising government and
private sector. Form a proper Commission headed by a
business savvy person who has had experience in administrative
roles. This commission can be managed like a proper
organization and headed by a retired Army General. General
Amjad (ex-NAB Chief and now MD Fauji Foundation) fits
well in this role. Unless we bring some management angle
to this rehabilitation exercise, balance logic and faith,
trust and believe in future, the passion will die down
naturally and we will end up in an "intensive care
unit" for times to come. We can ill afford this
and have the choice to convert pain and agony into prosperity.
If commission rather organization is created, professional
people having academic skills like development economics
to Engineers to MBA's to Doctors can be hired they will
create this into an opportunity and a test for developing
northern areas all across Pakistan as well. Hiroshima
and Nagasaki bombing changed forever the perspective
of Japanese as individuals and a nation. The nuclear
catastrophe of 1945 forced Japan to evolve into the
second biggest economy in the world. While Kashmir and
Pakistan are blessed with land, natural resources, tourism
potential and rich culture, the Japanese had nothing
to offer except human capital, good intentions, sound
planning, honesty and commitment. Look at where they
If we can manage moral, social and economic resurrection
together, this would change the perspective of the entire
nation and we would have learnt not ignored the lesson. "Think of people and management together".
"Think public and private sector nexus". The
difference between underdeveloped and developed nations
is not development, it is management. Pakistan is not
underdeveloped but under-managed. Let's learn from this
nature's blow and see how can we manage this catastrophe
well and evolve into a confident and self-reliant nation.
Every cloud has a silver lining but remember that the
clock is ticking!