Sun Feb 25, 2024
February 25, 2024

When the earth trembles

On last October 26, an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 struck the region of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Fortunately, the quake was over 200 km depth, which weakened its impact on the surface. Still, there were more than 200 people dead (mostly in Pakistan) and over 1,000 wounded, besides the great destruction caused by the earthquake across the region, and the number of evacuees.

As the search reaches more remote areas from urban centers, the death toll will grow extensively. In some places telephone lines and lightning were cut, leaving the victims isolated.

Faced with this catastrophic situation, the US and the Indian bourgeoisie quickly provided humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The help will be conducted by military troops and, of course, was accepted.

A predictable catastrophe

In the subcontinent, under the Himalayas, two tectonic plates, the Indian and Eurasian meet. This causes regular seismic movements, making such region very prone to the phenomena.

Just six months ago, another major earthquake and much closer to the earth’s surface affected Nepal, leaving nearly 10,000 dead and 20,000 wounded; and about two years ago, another one struck the region of Baluchistan in Pakistan, leaving 400 dead. Ten years ago, one of the strongest earthquakes, known as Earthquake Kashmir left more than 75,000 dead in the region, one of the worst natural disasters of recent times. 

Obviously, no one can say that the latest earthquake on October 26 was a surprise. However, despite being a region of high seismic hazard, despite the technological advances to provide time, location and magnitude of future earthquakes, and thus mitigate the consequences; further, despite the fact that the United States has much of its latest technology geared to the region, due to the ongoing military occupation; despite all this, in less than ten years there have been over one hundred thousand deaths and destruction through at least four countries as a result of this natural phenomenon, exacerbated by others. [1]

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the region, and even in the world. With just over 31 million inhabitants, only 36% of the population is literate. Life expectancy is less than 50 years. An estimated 20-40 per cent of rural Afghans are malnourished, and roughly 70 per cent of the population live on less than 2 dollars a day and one in five children die before they reach their fifth birthday. According to the CIA, in the mid-1990s Afghanistan was the last country (# 192) in the list of calorie consumption per person. After the census, the country has been removed from the UN Human Development Index, due to the inability to collect reliable data. The situation in which millions of people have no shelter, food or basic health care is exacerbated by the war and military invasion by the United States since 2003. [2]

These are the main reasons why about six million Afghan refugees have fled to neighboring countries, making Afghanistan the second largest refugee-producing country in the world, being surpassed only by Syria.

Although natural phenomena are inevitable, the severity of the consequences would be much smaller if the Afghan state and the occupation forces had any interest in bringing “peace” to the country.

It should be clear that we are in favor of humanitarian aid the United States or any other country provide to address this situation: care for the injured, reconstruction of the territory, food and shelter to evacuees, etc. But it is not what happens, on the contrary, this catastrophe and the “humanitarian aid” are just pretexts to strengthen military control of the country.

The US is not interested in providing food and shelter to evacuees, health care to the wounded, in rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure. Neither is the Afghan government, a puppet of the US.

The US military occupation is nothing but a form of political control over the region in pursuit of its imperialist, economic and political interests. It has nothing to do with helping the Afghan people; on the contrary, they have only worsened their living conditions to unbearable limits, as the facts themselves have evidenced.

It is worth recalling that a month ago the US bombed “by mistake” the only specialized trauma northeastern Afghanistan hospital, administered by the MSF, in a region where the earthquake hit stronger. And that before the earthquake had happened, Obama confirmed that military troops would remain in the country.

This situation fits like a glove for imperialism: if the excuse of the Taliban and the fight against terrorism were not enough to justify the occupation, there is now the perfect argument – with the local government visa – to do exactly what has been done in Haiti: using the “humanitarian aid” to generate more poverty and crisis for the population, and control any type of social upheaval by the military occupation.

Our solidarity and support

We declare our solidarity with the Afghan and Pakistani peoples before the situation they are living.

The state of emergency declaration in the affected regions is urgent, and the requirement for governments to set an immediate plan to guarantee health care to the wounded and evacuee, as well as food and shelter for all affected by the quake.

It is imperative to set up a plan for restoring the affected territories, to rebuild houses, schools and hospitals. We demand international humanitarian aid, making it clear that this does not come from the hands of the US military occupation. Therefore, we maintain our demand of immediate withdrawal of the imperialist troops from the region, whose “humanitarian aid” is nothing more than a way to root their control and dominance, bringing more misery and suffering to the people.

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Notes:

[1] In July, Pakistan and parts of India suffered brutal floods that left hundreds dead and thousands of evacuees, plus a large deterioration in the infrastructure of the region, which has been aggravated by the collapse of buildings during the last earthquake.

[2] https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afganistán#Demograf.C3.ADa – verified Sources: “Afghanistan.” The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

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