Survivors of the quake have been paying tribute to the victims
Papers in Pakistan are marking the first anniversary of the South Asia earthquake with demands for major improvements to the reconstruction efforts, as well as more transparency in the allocation of aid.
Those calls can be heard loudest in the Urdu press, with one paper complaining that survivors have been left "alone in their misery".
In English-language papers too, there's a firm belief that much more can and must be done, with thousands of survivors preparing to face another winter in makeshift shelters.
The victims of this earthquake remain helpless and hapless. Over the last year, people have been given only temporary shelters and nothing more. Reconstruction is proceeding at a snail's pace. The whole nation of Pakistan certainly ran to the aid of their quake-stricken people in the first three to four months. Their zeal for help was exemplary. But then, all of a sudden, they left their brethren alone in their misery.
The reconstruction work should have been nearing completion by now. It is beyond our understanding why the government is not stepping up the pace of reconstruction... The nation wants to know to what extent the international community has fulfilled its promises and how much funding was given for the reconstruction. The government had promised transparency in using those funds but so far it has not been acted upon.
We should not overlook the need to eliminate the loopholes in the relief and rehabilitation of earthquake victims and to improve the standard of work in future. Before the onset of a chilly winter, our main aim should be to enable those affected to spend the season in safe homes and places. (6 October)
While one can look back with a great deal of satisfaction at the rescue and relief phase, though at times it appeared slow-moving and inadequate considering the enormity of the task at hand, the same cannot be said about the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase... The resources that are now available for rehabilitation and reconstruction, if used wisely, can turn these regions into highly productive areas.
While some of the claims by foreign NGOs might have been overstated, there is a need to avoid going to the other extreme by giving a clean chit to the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority. A balance has to be maintained. This is possible only under a system where the agency is subjected to parliamentary oversight. This would introduce transparency, improve the working of the organisation and reduce the miseries of those who continue to be homeless. This will also negate accusations of complacency and incompetence on the part of the government and refute claims that it is presenting a rosy picture merely to extract political mileage.
The lives of the survivors of the great quake of 2005 still need a lot of rebuilding. And this is not just something that only the government - which one has to say is trying to do all that it can - should do. Individual Pakistanis should use this 8 October as an occasion to remember the enormous tragedy of last year and ask themselves if they can still help, in whatever way they can, those who lost their homes and loved ones.
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