Tsunamis, the Japanese and us - Kamran Shafi - Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/15/tsunamis-the-japanese-and-us.html

AS Japan reels from the effects of the giant earthquake and the monster tsunami that followed soon after resulting in the deaths of reportedly at least 10,000 people, possibly many more, one can discern the calm fortitude with which that brave and well-organised people are going about the business of recovery.
From the prime minister down to the police and the soldiers, sailors and airmen, there is a quiet determination to do what has to be done. The army is distributing clothes and water and food from kitchens run by soldiers with officers serving the people; the navy is looking for survivors who might have been swept out to sea; and the air force is ferrying in supplies and medicines round the clock.
Everyone, including the prime minister and his cabinet, is in the uniform of the rescue services; no one in civvies of choice; and there are no spectators hanging about gawking at the rescue efforts and getting in the way of those engaged in them. Indeed, all of the nation is united in their hour of trial, the prime minister who was fighting for his very political survival just days ago getting the loyalty of all so that he can lead the country effectively in this time of great hardship. It is to be noted that lay politicians not in government posts are nowhere to be seen, leaving the recovery work to those trained to do it.
Compare this please with the floods in our poor country when everyone and Charlie`s aunt came down like a ton of bricks on the government and politicians in general, not accepting that it is organisations like the National Disaster Management Authority (headed by a full-blown lieutenant general, please note) that had the major responsibility, helped by the country`s armed forces. Instead, what we saw was an embarrassing PR campaign telling us what great favours were being done to the flood affectees, as if either they or our armed forces were Martians.
As an aside, there are no banners on Japanese army trucks announcing `The Japanese Army at the service of the Japanese people!` , or `such-and-such Corps HQ at the service of so-and so` as we saw to the everlasting mortification of old soldiers such as I.
Well, come to think of it, the New Zealand army had no such slogans emblazoned on the sides of their trucks during the earthquake that hit that nation not too long ago; and neither did the Australian army when the massive floods hit that country recently. It always has to be us doing the wrong thing, the very unique people that we are.
As I write this there are warnings of further earthquakes in Japan and resultant tsunamis too, triggering the fear that the nation`s nuclear power plants may well be badly affected. Indeed, thus far there have been two explosions in two plants situated along the coast where the tsunami struck.
One shudders to think what might happen to our KANUPP located near Hawkes Bay on Karachi`s coast if there is anything near a tsunami happening there. I mean if reactors could be affected in efficient, technologically advanced Japan, why can they not explode into smithereens in a country that cannot efficiently run a bus service in the public sector? Boggles the senses if you ask me.
There is some good news, however, and this has to do with a weak ray of hope in regard to the existential question that stares our poor and hapless country in the face far more frighteningly that an earthquake and/or a tsunami. And that is the takeover of our country by extremists intent on waging war against the world. The ray of hope is the announcement attributed to the GOC 7 Division who oversees military operations in Waziristan to the effect that the vast majority of those killed are militants, many of them foreigners who, if politically active Pakhtun friends are to be believed, have made the lives of our Fata brothers and sisters a living hell.
Well, kudos to the general for saying it like it is. Of course, the likes of the `bright young things` who operate out of the bowels of the establishment will soon criticise him for telling the truth and try and sell the outdated, past its sell-by date nonsense that sections of the Deep State are always putting out.
Indeed, to hedge its bets, the ISPR has already stated that the views are the general`s own. We know for certain, of course, that the army is a well-knit, disciplined force, and that army officers simply would not air their personal views publicly.
By the by, there is uproar on the Internet re: this same statement with many of my liberal and leftist friends condemning the army for genuflecting to the Americans and therefore trying to fob off the matter of the drone strikes. To them I should like to say that there is no one truth in all the shemozzle of the war on terror, there are many truths. One of which surely is that the drone strikes are hurting the terrorists.
Which reminds me, if it is at all true, as a news story in this paper of record had it the other day, that an assault on the Haqqani network in North Waziristan is imminent, then more kudos to the army for having finally realised that half-measures will never suffice in the fight against terror; that terrorists can never be the army`s `strategic assets`; and that if we help the Americans lose in Afghanistan we are next in line for the ministrations of the forces of darkness.
In the end, let me allude to the statement of the ISPR chief in which he has advised the civilian set-up to `streamline` the use of funds in civilian departments instead of criticising heavy defence spending; and told the `civilian government` that if they could “diminish the perils to the country through negotiations with India, then reduction in army could take place”. Two questions: is the spending within the armed forces `streamlined` — if so why the Rs2bn NLC scam please? As to `negotiations with India`, er, who is `India-centric` please?


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