A bloody page was added to the history of Hunza valley on 4th January, 2010, as Attabad turned into a pile of rock and sand, killing or burying around 19 people and injuring or displacing many more. This is the biggest single – event loss of human life in a natural disaster in Hunza valley. Over a decade ago an avalanche in Chipursan Valley had killed ten people.
We all are shocked and sad.
The relief operations are in process and different communities and organizations have generously and selflessly contributed or are willing to contribute in rehabilitation of the displaced people. While the spirit of sharing grief and being part of the solution is priceless, there are some points that we would like to make through this blog pertaining to the relief operation underway in Hunza valley.
We don’t think there is any need to declare the entire Hunza valley as a calamity hit region. Attabad and Sarat only, or maybe Aayinabad in future, should be the center of focus and attention. Aayinabad because according to reports this lower part of the Shishkat village is likely to be affected by the lake formed on Hunza River.
At no stage, at any cost, shall the self respect and self esteem of the brave people of Attabad be compromised during the process of relief provision. They need our support at this moment, but they are not destitute. Donations and contributions shall be channeled through a single authority, most suitably the Ismaili council for Hunza, which can assess the needs and demand assistance, as and when required.
Similarly, Gojal is not likely to face famine. Being an agrarian society our people store food items for the cold winters and are self sufficient in many products. The government shall continue supply of essential food items in the valley through helicopters and shall stock food items not produced in the region at its depots, based on objectively need analysis.
However, this method of food supply is least likely to continue till the reopening of Karakuram Highway. Therefore, the focus shall be dumping of food items in the region in larger quantities or opening up of the Chinese border for importing food items from the time tested friend of Pakistan.
Food items shall not be distributed free of cost because the economy of Gojal valley and the buying power of people has not been hurt by the landslide, to a major extent. What the government can do is that it can organize groups of retailers and traders of Gojal valley and supply food items to the region through them. In this way the people would be able to get essential food items at their door steps, in the usual manner.
The people of Gojal Valley, in the meanwhile, will need to alter their consumption habits to cope with the situation in a dignified and honorable manner.
It has been seen, in recent times, that communities lost their independence, values and dignity, to the flood of relief that poured into the region affected by earthquake in Kashmir and NWFP.
The people of Gojal and Hunza are hit by a disaster and they have lost many of their brothers and sisters. The times are hard but they have lived with dignity in poverty, and shall relearn to live with dignity in scarcity, if the time demands. [Noor]