Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tragic, heartbreaking winter in store for Pakistan

Matt Taibbi takes a break from snark to file this report.
High above the valley city of Muzaffarabad, the view is at once terrible and awesome. Stretching for miles along both sides of the turbid Jhelum River is what's left of a major city -- in every direction piles of rubble and dust and glass, still hiding thousands of corpses, with all the standing structures giant deathtraps mined with fatal cracks. Above all that, on a piece of exposed earth on a mountain plateau now home to a sprawling tent city of displaced persons called Tariqabad, a young man shows me his new home. His eight-member family's tent is on the edge of a dirt slope. There is no plastic sheet on the ground, no blankets, nothing. The family simply sleeps on top of one another in their clothes, their only possessions. At the first rainfall, I'm guessing, their floor will turn to mud and they will all slide some 1,500 feet down the cliff in the middle of the night. I ask about that.

"But what about the rain?" I say. "What will you do?"

The young man shrugs. "We stand," he says.

"All night?" I ask.

"Yes, all night," he says.



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