FRONTLINE/World [home]

Search FRONTLINE/World

FRONTLINE/World Dispatches

Editors' Notes




Editors' Notes

Pakistan Blog



recent posts

Interview With Sharmeen Obaid-Chinnoy

Pakistan's Taliban Generation

Bangladesh: The Mystery of a Mutiny

Afghanistan: A Hard Fight

Cambodia: Confronting Its Past

Pakistan: An Unsettling Peace

Zimbabwe: A Harsh Reality

Virtual Gitmo: Human Rights in Second Life

At Siemens, Bribery Was Just a Line Item

Mumbai: Eyewitness to the Attack



April 2009

March 2009

February 2009

January 2009

December 2008

November 2008

October 2008

September 2008

August 2008

July 2008

June 2008

May 2008

April 2008

March 2008

February 2008

January 2008

December 2007

November 2007

October 2007

September 2007

August 2007

July 2007

June 2007

May 2007

April 2007

March 2007

February 2007

January 2007

December 2006

November 2006

October 2006

September 2006

August 2006

July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

December 2005

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005


RSS Feeds

Pakistan: Notes from the quake zone

Back in August, David Montero wrote a vivid dispatch for us from Bangladesh about the plight of garment workers; in particular, what happened following the pancake collapse of a nine-story garment factory outside Dhaka that left 61 dead and wounded more than 100 others.

Some of you wrote to tell us how moved you were by his account of families affected by the collapse and the shoddy unregulated construction exposed by the accident.

Now Montero's in Pakistan reporting on the earthquake that struck the north of the country on October 8. So far, it's killed around 80,000 people.

In the next few days, we will post another of Montero's reports when he visits the leveled town of Balakot in Northern Pakistan, until a month ago a stunning Himalayan destination sought out by tourists. But before that, we'd like to share an email he sent a couple of days ago from Islamabad, just before heading back north to the hardest-hit areas.

* * *

Hello all,

I hope this finds you all well. I'm writing to you from Islamabad. I've spent the last week in northern Pakistan, touring Balakot, Muzaffarabad and several other towns in and around the quake zone.

Balakot rose in the 1970s, becoming a hub for tourists, bringing with it a new, albeit limited, sense of prosperity for the people who lived there. All that is now gone, and the people of Balakot are left wondering what their town will be -- or if it will be.

I spoke with several village elders about the history of the town and how it changed, what it used to be like. Most now feel they have returned to where they started from 30 years ago. I thought it would be important to pay homage to what the town was, since that's not something I've seen discussed in the media -- and since the town is probably forever lost.

I was deeply affected by this sense of returning to square one, most poignantly symbolized by a father who returned from his job in the Middle East to bury his three children.

As I walked deeper into the town, I found that people there have not so much a broken spirit as a renewed sense of God's presence, or perhaps his wrath. Their faith is only strengthened by what has befallen them there, they say.

Along the way, it was hard not to notice what a large and reassuring presence the Islamist parties have been, doling out food and aid in well organized camps. Their streamlined organization contrasts tellingly with the scattered operations of the army, and most of the survivors I spoke with had nothing nice to say about the government's response.

I'll be traveling tomorrow to some of the remote, inaccessible areas in the North.

All the best,


Read Montero's full report and see images from the region.