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Leap of faith in the face of faithless Pakistanis

November 30, 2012

One cannot remember when was the last time such an eye-opening incident took place in Pakistan. Tracing such events back in time, there are actually rarely any to be found, especially since this one did not involve suicide or injuries, but rather certain death due to self absorbed countrymen.

A 23 year old, identified as Owais Baig, fell to his death from a window of the StateLifeBuilding in an attempt to escape a raging fire on November 28, 2012. He was present on the eighth floor of the 12-storey building on Abdullah Haroon Road awaiting a job interview for an executive engineer’s position when the fire erupted.

According to the report, “The police and rescue sources said the young man hung from the window for nearly half an hour before he finally fell down and landed on the roof of the second floor. The situation was being witnessed by a large number of people from the street below. Some private television channels were showing it live.” How come no selfless citizen or for that matter concerned authority stepped forward to assist in any way possible given that the boy helplessly hung on to his life for nearly 30 minutes? Was it right on the part of the media to telecast an incident such as this ‘live’? Did they not once think about what the family and friends of the boy must be going through watching the horrific visuals?

The same report states, “Police and rescue services said that the fire had broken out in the duct housing electric cables on the second floor.” Which authority will now step forward and take blame for the fault? Is it time to put into effect laws that regulate building maintenance and checks to ensure as much safety as possible for any one inside residential or commercial buildings?

The report adds, “Although the fire department’s snorkel did arrive at the scene, it was too late for Owais Baig. “Our snorkel had reached the scene of the fire, but by the time the young man had fallen,” chief fire officer Saleem Ethesham said. Eight fire tenders and two snorkels were employed in the firefighting operation, and the fire was doused in three hours, he added.” Have the emergency and rescue services of Pakistan not learnt any lessons at all? When will the efficiency and swiftness that is needed take effect? When will the investments in the sectors that are so badly needed pour in?

This one in a million episode happened in the midst of the busiest hub in a city of 21 million, during the peak hours of the daily work routine of the many that pass through the area six days a week. Does this appalling occurrence not deserve more follow up attention rather than the disgraceful live circus that was televised? Have the citizens of Karachi become so immune to ‘death’ that only something worse, such as a whole horde of deaths or mass wreckage could move them to create a hue and cry?