The day Pakistan came to stand still!

“October 8: One minute silence for the dead!”

Flag Pakistan animated gif 240x180

For other countries in the world October 8 is just an another day of the year but for Pakistan it is a tragedy that Pakistan might never forget!

It was a normal day of Ramadan (Muslim’s fasting month) in the country, as Islamabadis were mostly at home resting or taking nap after early morning’s Ramadan meal while many children of other cities were also at school what awaited them was truly unpredictable and in minutes a normal day turned into the most darkest days in the history of Pakistan. At about 8:52 am PKT a major earthquake jolted the northern areas of Pakistan and adjoining areas of Afghanistan and India.

How did it all started?

The Eurasian and Indian Plate

On October 8, 2005 at about 8:52 am PKT, a major earthquake jolted the Kashmir region with Pakistan-Administrated (PoK) being the worst affected along with Khyber and Indian-Administrated Kashmir (IHK). The capital of PoK, Muzaffarabad was just  about 19 km northeast from the epicentre of the earthquake. At the time of the earthquake, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) recorded an earthquake of magnitude 7.6 while the Japan Meteorological Agency reported that it was a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

The northern areas of Pakistan mainly the Kashmir region lies on a very active fault line. It lies on the boundary of the large Eurasian and small Indian tectonic plates, both are deadly plates that are colliding with each other. The small Indian plate that underlies most of India and Pakistan, including much of Kashmir. While the vast Eurasian plate that underlies Europe, China, Russia, and much of the Middle East.

The motion between the two plates is causing the mountains to push upwards; over millions of years this motion has built the Himalaya range. This earthquake was also the first quake in the Himalayas that produced a surface rupture. In the past not one of the earthquakes in the Himalaya has ever produced a surface rupture, not in Nepal nor India.

After the earthquake

View of Islamabad after the 2005 earthquake

By October 27, there had been more than 978 aftershocks with a magnitude of 4.5 and above that continued till many weeks. Since the earthquake, parts of mountains above the epicentre of the quake have risen by a few metres as shown by satellites, giving ample proof that the rising of the Himalayas is still going on.

The earthquake killed some 80,000 people in the region making it the 16th most deadliest earthquake the world has ever seen. The Kashmir earthquake injured some 200,000 people. Following is the list of major earthquakes that occurred in the same region;

  • September 1554
  • May 30, 1885
  • March 2, 1878
  • April 4, 1905
  • December 28, 1978

Pakistan becomes a failed state!

The then Pakistani government handled the disaster with maturity and within minutes the Pakistan Army was on the spot. The international community did an amazing job in motivating other parts of the world to come forward and help the country. But it was the economy that was hit the hardest! 

Due to the economic reforms by the Musharraf-led government, the economy of Pakistan was expanding but the earthquake had a major effect on the economic growth of Pakistan. The most best example was the list of “Failed States Index” issued by the Fund for Peace (FfP) in 2006;

  1.  Sudan
  2.  Democratic Republic of the Congo
  3.  Côte d’Ivoire
  4.  Iraq
  5.  Zimbabwe
  6.  Chad
  7.  Somalia
  8.  Haiti
  9.  Pakistan
  10.  Afghanistan

In 2005, Pakistan was ranked 34th in the same list but the earthquake changed it all. The Kashmir earthquake was blamed for such a sudden rise of Pakistan in becoming a failed state and the country’s booming economy became a fragile economy. Now every year on October 8, at about 8:52 am Pakistan observes one minute silence for those who lost their lives in the Kashmir earthquake.

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