Turkiye: A nation with Himalayan Courage


Dr. Syed Mehboob

February 6, 2023 was the worst day for whole Turkiye when it experienced the most destructive, the severest earth quake not in the history of Turkiye but the worst one in the modern history of the world. It was 4.17 A.M in the early morning and people were deeply sleeping. They were unaware what happened with them. The earth quake affected neighbouring provinces of Adiyaman, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Osmaniye, Gaziantep, Malatya, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Elazig, and Adana where about 14 million people reside including about 1.8 million Syrian refugees.   It affected 11 cities, 100 small towns 1000 of villages, it had magnitude if 7.8 accompanied with several aftershocks of 6.8,6.6, 6.4 magnitudes. After 9 hours another earthquake was witnessed. The seismic sequence was the result of shallow strike-slip faulting. There was widespread damage in an area of about 350,000 sq km about the size of Germany. An estimated 14 million people or 16% of Turkish population was affected. Development experts from the United Nations estimated that about 1.5 million people were left homeless. It was severe winter and temperature in some areas was -15C and in some areas -9C. There was snowing and raining which further made the rescue job more difficult. Death toll estimated more than 37,000 people.

Pakistan was the first one which responded immediately and a Pakistan Air Force plane with rescue team and necessary items like tents, warm coats arrived in Turkiye reached there. Today (4th April,2023) , I was sitting with Consul General of    bother country Turkiye H.E Cemal Sangu at Consulate General of Turkiye and we were discussing the post- earthquake situation in Turkiye and the rehabilitation and reconstruction task achieved and remaining. H.E Mr. Sangu told me that not only the government of Pakistan but also the whole Pakistani nation’s response was like brothers and relatives of Turkish people. Leading NGOS like Alkhidmat, Baitus Salam, Sailani Welfare did excellent job and collected donations and relief items for their Turkish brothers and sisters. Rotary Club of Pakistan, business communities including FPCCI, KCCI and others also did excellent job. School children, Students of Colleges, universities and other institutes also voluntarily collected donation. SMIU university’s faculty members and students organized a programme to express solidarity with their Turkish brothers and sisters. Many students wrote poems, emotional sentences and delivered speeches which reflects the deep rooted, historical ties with Pakistan and Turkiye is in the hearts, minds, emotions, sentiments of Pakistan and similar is the case with Turkiye.

The Government of Turkiye did every possible effort to provide relief to victims. Hotels, dormitories provided shelter to the victims and special winterized tents were provided to people. International community response was overwhelming and 11,500 rescue workers from 90 different countries arrived there. Over all 122 countries provided help. Pakistani rescue team saved lives of 28 people. PIA established air, sea and land bridges, and provided 15 tonnes of relief material. Pakistan also donated 50,000 winterized tents, 22 trucks, two navy ships, 36 air crafts. Pakistan’s NDMA also organized relief work. In many Pakistani masques (Masjids) special (dua) prayers were held for Turk brothers. At IDEAS exhibition one minute silent was observed to express solidarity with Turkish brothers and sisters. Sindh Government cancelled its cultural programme to express solidarity with Turkish people.

Turkish government set 4,000 tents, 60,000 containers for victims and also set up 30 field hospitals besides Turkiye other countries also set up field hospitals. Around 100,000 people were wounded and they needed emergency relief.  Air ambulances used to provide them immediate rescue and relief.  Earth quake damaged railway track, an airport runway. Government had provided 60,000 containers to victims and have planned 50,000 more. Pakistan has specialization in tent manufacturing and its tent manufacturer are busy in making tents for Turkiye earthquake victims. UNO, UNICEF and other International agencies are busy providing relief to the victims. It is worth mentioning that both the Turkish government and opposition joined hands to continue relief work and they forgot their differences. Turkish nation exhibited complete harmony and unity on this occasion.

By the grace of Almighty Allah relief work is underway and education has resumed in the earthquake-affected provinces of Gaziantep, Adana and Osmaniye. These three provinces have 1.3 million students. Education also resumed in Adiyaman, Hatay, Kahramanmaras and Malatya where destruction was heaviest. According to UNICEF repot, approximately 4 million children including 350,000 refugees’ access to education had been hampered. There are 2.5 million children in need. According to an initial assessment by Ministry of Health, a quarter of hospitals in the 11 affected provinces are severely or moderately damaged, while 15% of primary health care facilities (236 facilities in total) are incompatible. In the most affected districts of the four provinces, more than 40% of district Health Directorates, more than 70% of family health centers, and 50% of migrant health centers are damaged, according to World Health Organization’s initial assessment. In addition, more than 60% of obstetricians and gynecology wards are out of service. Only about 30% of the pre-earthquake number of doctors and nurses are able to work. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) announced that there are approximately 226,000 pregnant women in the disaster area, with 25,000 births expected within a month. About 1.6 million buildings are damaged and need demolition. In 5 provinces damage assessment work has been completed.

A total of Euro 7 billion were pledge by the International community at the “Together for the people of Turkiye and Syria International Donors’ Conference, co-hosted by the President of the EC, Ursula Von der Leyen and by the Prime Minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristensen for the Swedish Presidency of the Council. More than sixty delegations from the EU, its member states and partners, including the UN, International and European financial institutions such as EIB and EBRD and other relevant stakeholders met in Brussels to mobilize support for the people on Turkiye.

No doubt the challenge is vast, very difficult one but we hope that Turkiye is a nation with Himalayan courage and it has a history of great resilience and by dint of their determination, unity, commitment they will overcome this situation and within few years Turkiye as a nation will emerge as a great global power and leader of Muslim Ummah and will play its positive, constructive role in promoting peace, harmony and development. We, all the Pakistanis are praying for speedy recovery of all those who are injured and also praying Almighty Allah for the people who died in earth quake may they live in peace in paradise.  The whole Pakistani nation is standing with their Turk brothers and sisters. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here