THE death of Owais Baig is a unique kind of tragedy. The young man, attempting to escape a fire in a high-rise building in Karachi, jumped to his death with the grim event shown live on television. A large crowd of spectators as well as rescue personnel were present as the youth fell from the building. Yet many important questions regarding the unfortunate incident remain. For instance, did rescuers try and convince the man to stay put until they reached him? Or were some efforts made to bring in rescue equipment that could have broken his fall? Unfortunately, human life is of little value in this society. So whether it is one man jumping to his death from a burning building, or over 250 people perishing inside a blazing factory, as was the case with September’s Baldia inferno, we soon move on without learning lessons from such incidents. The case of Owais Baig is in the limelight perhaps because it unfolded live on TV; yet similar tragedies happen almost daily in Pakistan.

The problem is one of mindset. There is no public awareness of how to react during emergencies. On our roads we don’t give way to ambulances or fire tenders, while mobs congregate at sites of traffic accidents or other disasters, turning tragedy into a spectacle and obstructing rescue work. One hopes that society learns from these incidents and changes for the better. But for that to happen major efforts are required, and it will be a lengthy process. The state should start with devising effective emergency response mechanisms as well as by launching public awareness campaigns about these. These should educate citizens in how to act during emergencies, to make way for ambulances in disaster sites and to call rescue services. Continued complacency will only cause tragic events to repeat themselves.

Updated Dec 12, 2012 12:00am

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Comments (Closed)


Faqi
Dec 12, 2012 11:18am
What happened was unimaginable and extremely inhuman. It is the result of lack of education, lack of responsibility and lack of humanity.
Circumbulator
Dec 12, 2012 05:51am
It is indeed a collective responsibility. Our hearts go out to the believed family, may Allah almighty give them the strength to bear this. However the burden of responsibility lies heavily on the managers of the building and the company whose offices the unfortunate lad went to. They should have had a contingency plan, and proper training for their staff, specially their security and administration, after all they deal in dangerous and hazardous business.