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Inside Dateline: What we saw in Pakistan

Producer Christian Martin talks about traveling to Pakistan, seeing some of the devastation, and meeting some of the quake victims.

November 17, 2005 |

What we saw in Pakistan (Christian Martin, producer traveling with Ann Curry)

The October 8th Earthquake in Pakistan is exactly the kind of story I got into journalism to tell. Reporting the stories of people in need, educating viewers, letting them know how they can help and being useful while you are in a place of tragedy is what this job is all about. As an aid worker in Sri Lanka said to me after the tsunami, "When something like this happen you want to be able to just reach out through your television set and be able to help. We are so blessed because we get to be the giving hand at the end of those thousands of arms that want to help." Well, we in television news are blessed because we get to show the pictures that inspire people to want to help.

But a trip to Pakistan? That is difficult to pull off. It is far away, visas are a nightmare and the earthquake happened in one of the most remote and dangerous places in the world. It is clearly one of the reasons that media coverage of the earthquake has been less comprehensive than the tsunami last December.

As a rule I'd say big trips to exotic, foreign lands seem to come one of two ways: either you work for months setting up every detail, contacting fixers, arranging for visas, and getting up at ungodly hours so you can catch people at their desks half way around the world— or the trip just falls into your lap. This trip to Pakistan was the latter. Pretty much out of the blue, Ann Curry and I were invited on a three-day presidential delegation to assess the earthquake damage in Pakistan.

The back story? On Thursday, the 10th of November, President Bush gave a speech reaching out to America's corporate business leaders — he urged them to spur private sector giving to Pakistan. He also announced he'd be sending Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes and a team of business leaders from Pfizer, Xerox and IBM to the quake zone to see first-hand what had happened. NBC News, Ann Curry and myself, would be going along. All we needed to do was get to Andrews Air Force Base.

Now it is time for a quick confession: When I first got a job at NBC News 13 years ago, I basically had three wishes. I wanted to see the Oval Office, go to a state dinner at the White House, and ride on Air Force One. And while the 737 Boeing Business Class Jet that was carrying the presidential delegation was far from the 747 that usually ferries around the president, it did have United States of America painted across the side of it. So in my mind, I was able to put a check mark next to one of my career wishes.

As I boarded the jet, I nervously thumbed my 200-page research binder. I knew very little about Pakistan but understood I'd have an incredible opportunity over the next 48 hours to spread the news to our viewers in the United States that 86,000 people had died as a result of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake. Now with winter fast approaching humanitarian groups were warning that twice that number could die in the next weeks and months if they didn't get adequate shelter, food and medicine.

The inside of the airplane was like nothing I'd ever seen before. As you walked in on the right side there were two workstations, complete with an array of computer monitors. The desks had telephone service, cable TV, Internet connections and then a whole wall of secure communication and transmission devices that I can' t even imagine. It is the same plane used by General Abizaid of CENTCOM so it is no exaggeration to say that you can run a war — even two — from inside of it.

In the back of the plane there is a living room type set up:  big comfy chairs arranged around two coffee tables. This is where Hank McKinnell from Pfizer, Anne Mulcahy from Xerox, Jim Kelly from UPS and Karen Hughes sat for the bulk of the trip. Behind them, in the final section of the plane, there was a bed, a private bathroom, a full-length mirror and a closet. This is where the First Lady sleeps when she uses the plane.

The 16-hour flight to Islamabad was completely discombobulating. The stewards on board seemed to feed us every two hours. So I was constantly full and had absolutely no idea what time it was either where I was going or back home in the states. Eventually I drifted off to sleep and as I awoke realized we were beginning our descent into Pakistan.

Now for anyone who is used to traveling internationally all I can say is this was nothing like that experience. The plane pulled directly up to the terminal. The press all stayed in their seats as Hughes led the delegation of business leaders out onto the tarmac. The Pakistani media were there, as was a cadre of diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and a bunch of Colonels and Majors. We all waited at the top of the stairs while greetings were exchanged. "What about our bags?" I asked. "They will be delivered to your room," the Protocol Officer told me. "What about customs?" I asked. "You are part of the delegation. You're cleared."

Within minutes we began what can only be described as a rock and roll ride from Chaklala airfield outside of Rawalpindi to our hotel in Islamabad. The secretary and the CEOs got into armored cars near the front of the caravan and we got into an unarmored mini van near the back. In every vehicle was a Regional Security Officer (RSO) who had a large machine gun. Our caravan, led by screaming Pakistani police cars, barreled down the three-lane high, weaving back and forth across all lanes. When civilian cars got too close (as we passed them) the police, or one of our escort vehicles, would literally ride them right off the road. If traffic slowed or our caravan came to a stop, every door opened a crack and from every car the RSOs, with their weapons at the ready, leaned out ready to pounce. Just in case, I guess. I didn't know whether to be scared of fascinated -- so I settled for both.

When we arrived at our hotel the delegation went to bed but Ann and I had to file the first of our Vlogs and blogs back to the United States. Since the trip had been such a last minute affair, only really coming together after the conclusion of business hours on Friday, I began a series of calls to CNBC, MSNBC, Nightly News, the Today Show, Dateline to let everyone know where we were and what, if anything, we could offer their shows.

Finally, around 1 a.m. Pakistan time, I headed up to my room (it was now 3 p.m. the previous day in New York) and tried to go to sleep. No dice. At 5:45 a.m. the media once again assembled downstairs. Again we piled into mini vans and again we began a roller coaster ride to the military side of the airfield at Chaklala.

There we saw a huge international contingent of military. They were all there to provide aid and support. We saw soldiers from Germany, Australia, Japan and some of the 1,100 U.S. troops deployed as part of the earthquake recovery effort.

Soon we walked towards the wasp-like Black Hawk helicopters that were to fly us north, into the foothills of the Himalayas. I headed towards one of the dark green choppers only to be intercepted by a press secretary who instead pointed to an older, much less confidence-inspiring, gray, bubble looking helicopter.

We scrambled aboard and I took a seat on top of the 500-gallon, yellow, gasoline tank that was soldered to the floor of the helicopter. I looked around and saw Cyrillic writing on the inside of what turned out to be a Russian made helicopter from the 1960's. I quickly recited the Lord's Prayer.

Soon the rotors started to turn, the noise became deafening and we were airborne, en route to Muzaffarabad and the southern most edge of the earthquake damage. After a few minutes the hills around us began to rise dramatically — now they were mountains and sheer cliffs. Yet on every mountainside there were houses, houses built right into the sides of the cliffs. Many of the houses had dirt roofs, all of which were treated as cultivable land. Surrounding each house like steps on a staircase were terraced parcels of land. Some a hundred feet wide, other no more than 5 or 6 feet wide, all painstakingly carved out of the mountain, by hand. All had hay growing on them. In some places you could see men with threshers cutting the hay and pilling it up and I quickly realized that the hillsides I was looking at had been living exactly this way for hundreds of years.

The other thing that became apparent from the air is that there were precious few roads on these mountains. Mostly, there were switchbacks, usually just wide enough for a single goat and shepherd to make their way. As we got farther north we started seeing tell tale blue tarps spread across roofs damaged by the earthquake. For the first time I realized how difficult it must be to rebuild one of these houses. From our perch in the helicopter you could see it would literally take hours to get from a house to a road. Imagine trying to carry building supplies. What can a single man carry? Maybe ten bricks at a time? If it is a two-hour walk - both ways — that means you might be able to get 20 bricks to your house in an eight-hour day.

As the helicopter headed farther north we saw more and more disturbing images. We saw many roofs that appeared to be completely intact as if there had been no damage at all, it was only as you drew closer that you realized the roof had collapsed onto what had been the house. That there hadn't been much slip sliding, things had just crushed whatever was underneath them. The October 8th earthquake hit at 9 a.m., which explains why such an inordinate percentage of the casualties had been children — everyone else was out working while the kids were inside, in school.

As we approached Muzaffarabad from the windows of the helicopter we saw a truly remarkable sight. A mountain had been sliced in half. What had been a 7,000-foot peak in a matter of minutes had become half that. The mountain was covered with green vegetation and then there was an edge, a sheer cliff, where there was no more anything. The mountain had literally disappeared, taking with it all of the many houses and the village that used to be at its feet. All of that was now covered in tons and tons and tons of rubble, not even rubble really, it was just a smaller, different colored hill with hundreds of people forever buried underneath it.

We landed in Muzaffarabad and loaded into open backed Humvees -- kind of like pick up trucks. We then had a 10 minute, incredibly high-speed ride, down twisting mountain roads - all hanging on for our very lives -- to a huge tent camp filled with survivors from the quake.

We were only at the camp for 45 minutes to maybe an hour, so I'm not sure how many tents were there (maybe 500)? But Ann and I and our incredibly talented cameraman Marcus O'Brien knew that if we were going to tell this story to America, the only way to really convey what had happened here and what was happening would be through pictures.

Camps like these are tough places to visit. They are crowded, dirty, they don't smell good. But more than anything, there is an incredible amount of pain. Everywhere you look you see suffering. Many of these folks were pretty humble even before the earthquake arrived, now they had nothing, in many cases less than that having lost children, parents, spouses.

I began to photograph the survivors, mostly mothers with small children. The children were still playing, smiling, laughing — almost nothing can crush a child's spirit —  but the adults just stared. It is an odd thing taking these pictures. It is an invasion. I'm less than a few feet away pointing a camera directly into someone's face, their tent, their life, all that they have, whatever I please. I was aware of how rude this might seem and tried to share with them that I was here to help, to tell their story. Somehow I thought it would help if I showed the Pakistani woman carrying a four-month old baby a picture of my own wife holding our four-month old. I hoped it would show her we were the same — that I wanted to help. But when I did, it only heightened our differences. In the picture my daughter, who is bald as an egg, is smiling. She is healthy, clean, warm, immunized, well-dressed and maybe a little fat — in a sweet, baby sort of way. The child this woman held, while absolutely perfect and beautiful, was none of those things. It occurred to me that her home, this small dirty tent with UNHCR stamped on the side, might not even keep her alive when winter arrived in the weeks and months to come.

Soon, the call came to get back on the Humvees. Next we were going to visit one of two hospitals the U.S. Military had set up in the region. We watched a brief presentation where Hank McKinnell presented $10 million dollars in pharmaceuticals and pledged that Pfizer would sponsor a hospital in the region. Then we went inside the small, tent hospital. Dozens of doctors and nurses rushed about tending to patients. Many of the wounded were just getting treatment for the first time, more than a month after the quake hit. That meant re-setting bones that had knit together at crazy angles, scrubbing infected wounds that been closed for weeks or looking at children already treated but lying completely alone in a strange hospital surrounded by American soldiers. It was, as Karen Hughes described it, both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

There are more than 1,100 American troops in Pakistan contributing to the relief effort. They are not suppose to be looking for Osama Bin Ladin or tracking down Al Qaeda or doing anything besides helping earthquake victims. And I cannot say for certain that any of them are doing anything other than that, but I did see a number of bearded Americans, well armed, driving pick up trucks, eating MRE's and wearing civilian clothes. In my experience that description has always meant Special Forces— the same guys who spend a lot of time looking for Al Qaeda. And since Kashmir, where the earthquake happened, is one of the rumored hiding spots of Osama Bin Laden....

Ann asked the President of Pakistan about the possibility of some of the Americans who are here to help the earthquake victims may in fact by looking for Osama Bin Laden or Al Qaeda and here is what he said:

One of the rumored hideouts for Osama bin Ladin is in this earthquake zone, Kashmir. There are an estimated, more than, one 1,000 U.S. troops now in this region, for the first time, because of this earthquake. What is to prevent them from looking for Osama Bin Ladin while, they were also trying to help the earthquake victims?President Musharraf: No, they are, that is very different. These are not combat troops. These are engineers, these are medical uh hospitals, field hospitals, who are looking after earthquake victims. This is not a force which is operating. We have the force here, and we have a very large army. We have deployed about 70 to 80 thousand troops doing that, and we will not take any assistance from anywhere else. It will have a very negative impact.Ann Curry: Negative impact because, why? President Musharraf: Because uh, uh we don't want any combat troops, uh coming in from anywhere to assist us yet, in combat duties.

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has by all accounts been a strong ally to the United States ever since 9/11. He made the hugely unpopular, in Pakistan, decision to support the US effort in the War on Terror. Since then he has survived two assassination attempts. He has earned the enmity of many Pakistanis who still deeply resent the United States for, as they say, "abandoning" them after the War in Afghanistan with the Soviet Union. In the eyes of many Pakistanis, they fought that war as our proxy and afterward took in thousands of refugees as well as dealing with a huge influx of Taliban fighters. But once the war was over they say the United States abandoned them and did not look to them again until 9/11 happened and once again needed an ally. Now that the earthquake has happened many in Pakistan are angry again — angry that aid has been so slow to arrive, angry that Americans aren't donating to the levels anywhere close to what they did for the tsunami, angry that their countrymen are being left to die in the mountains.

It was this exact perception that President Bush and the delegation of American corporate leaders were trying to counteract. They were sent to Pakistan to show America cares, to raise money and awareness and as Karen Hughes said because, "it is the right thing to do." But if the United States does not deliver to Pakistan in its hour of need can we really count on them to be our ally in an unpopular war? Or continue to hunt for Osama Bin Laden? Or chase down Al Qaeda fighters?

Again here is what Musharraf said:

Ann Curry: It seems to me that this is not just about correcting the U.S. image. This is also about you to some degree. You have maintained your alliance with the Bush Administration, despite the fact that you have had two assassination attempts. Is it fair to say, this is President Musharraf's hour of need and you want your friend, the United States of America, to step up?President Musharraf: Yes, I would say that. Uh, yes indeed, it will reinforce my position. It will uh certainly, uh improve enhance my image on whatever we've been doing. People will understand that whatever policies that we follow, the strategic direction of joining the coalition, fighting against terrorism, joining supporting the United States against terrorism, was all correct decision because now we've got the returns that the United States is looking after our interests in our hour of need. But when you are talking about my assassination attempts, I would say we took a strategic direction of fighting terrorists. Uh tactical changes, irritants and route do not, there is no need of changing strategic course. So yes, there was an attempt on my life. That doesn't mean that we re-orientate our strategic direction just because I was attacked. That should not be the case. We have taken a decision, a strategic decision, in Pakistan's interest and that we will continue following. Ann Curry: The bottom line is your saying if the United States steps up and contributes significant help, this will help you in the battle again terrorism. President Musharraf: Yes, yes it will because it will uh enhance my position, strengthen my position, uh lend more credibility and strength to our the decision that we took of backing the United States and being with the United States, and therefore it will be much better. Ann Curry: And so, it might actually help?President Musharraf: Yes, it will. Ann Curry: Pick up more terrorists. President Musharraf: Yes. Ann Curry: Maybe even find Osama Bin Laden.President Musharraf: Hopefully. Hopefully.

Hopefully, Osama Bin Laden will be found. But I can tell you that is not what is on the mind of the three million people made homeless by the killer earthquake. These folks are cold, hungry and in need of shelter and medicine. They need help. A week from today is Thanksgiving. We as Americans have a lot to be thankful for. If you can afford to help the Pakistani people — financially, or maybe just with a warm thought or a prayer — it would do them a lot of good.

E-mail Christian at


Winter descending in Pakistan

Below is video and a transcript of Ann's report on Nightly News:

Winter is descending on Pakistan and, by all signs, it will be a harsh one for its nearly three million people—many still without shelter from last month’s quake. Aid workers warn nearly a 100,000 could die of exposure, hunger and disease unless more help arrives.

Already the United States has flown over a thousand missions to bring aid to remote villages, fly out the injured and set up field hospitals.

The U.S. has deployed 1100 troops and pledged $156 million. But, with money tight because of the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration admits it can’t do it alone.

On Monday, United States Special Envoy Karen Hughes brought along some top U.S. executives - the CEOs of Xerox, Pfizer, and UPS - for a first hand look.

“We are here for the long haul,” Hughes said, “because its’ the right thing to do.”

The Bush administration also needs to take care of a man it calls a close friend, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who took a huge political risk in backing the U.S. war on terror.

Does Musharraf feel it’s fair to say this is President Musharraf’s hour of need and he wants his friend, the United States of America, to step up?

“Yes, I would say that,” Musharraf agrees, “Yes indeed.  It will reinforce my position.  People will understand that whatever policies that we follow, the strategic direction of joining the coalition, fighting against terrorism, joining supporting the United States against terrorism, was all correct decision because now we’ve got the returns that the United States is looking after our interests in our hour of need.”

And so, Musharraf feels, it might actually help pick up more terrorists — and maybe even find Osama bin Laden.

But finding Bin Laden is not on the minds of earthquake survivors.  They need help and fast—freezing temperatures and snow could come any day now.

November 14, 2005 |

The face of anguish (Ann Curry)

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN— In a camp of tents in Pakistan's earthquake zone this morning, a young man asked me if he could take me up to the mountains to see what happened to his village. His face was smiling, but his eyes were wincing in pain.

"In the mountains," he was telling me, "many, many people need help."  He pointed up, toward the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, now dusted with first snow.

That this man was worrying about others said a lot about the suffering he feared.  His own home was now one of these rude tents dotting Muzaffarabad in Kashmir, his life broken like the vast majority of buildings here, since last month's killer 7.6 earthquake.

But he is lucky, compared to the people in the mountains.  There, people are said to be without adequate shelter, with severe winter weather due in just weeks.   If there were roads in, it might be easy. A U.S. official tells me bad weather is already cutting back helicopter drops and Pakistani soldiers are now hiking in, carrying supplies on their backs.   Not many of the heavy, winterized tents will get in that way.

The truth no one wants to admit out loud, is that more people are going to die.  The question is only how many.  The young man in the tent seems to know that.  When I told him my schedule, following Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes' during her trip here, would not allow me to go to his village, his face fell, in line with the pain in his eyes.

E-mail Ann at Read some viewer e-mails to Ann, below.

Tune in to Today and Dateline for Ann's reports from the region.

November 12, 2005 |

The silent humanitarian disaster (Ann Curry)

"The hardest part was hearing the children crying at night." —Alex Erolin, Humanitarian worker, American Refugee Committee International

As I write this I am on my way toward Pakistan, a place of tears as described by humanitarian Alex Erolin in our interview last week on TODAY. 

Pakistan, where a 7.6 earthquake last month killed an now estimated 86,000 people, where UNICEF says twice that number may  die from exposure, hunger and disease in the coming days.

My inbox has been filling with increasingly desperate e-mails, humanitarian workers warning of "a nightmare," with temperatures now falling, half a million people without food and shelter and all this at time when it would seem few care.   

Americans, so generous after the tsunami and hurricanes have not responded in a significant way to the suffering in Pakistan.  Are we disaster fatigued? Or uncertain we should give to a people living where Osama Bin Laden is believed to be hiding?

And then there is the reality that troubles me most personally: We, who report the news, have not reported  Pakistan's disaster with the same intensity as during Katrina and the tsunami, for a lot of reasons.

It is not a story enough Americans know about, though it is one they need to know about.

Pakistan's President Musharraf, who has put his own life at risk, to publicly support the Bush Administration's efforts to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, is now asking the U.S. for help.  This is Musharraf's hour of need. 

President Bush knows Musharraf's continued support is key.  He is sending Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes to the quake zone, with a delegation of Fortune 500 executives.  The goal is to raise awareness and money. I am traveling with them.

But with temperatures already dropping, time is running out. 

I don't believe we have become a nation that doesn't care when children are crying in hunger and cold. 

E-mail Ann at

November 9, 2005 |

Do we care less about Pakistan? (Ann Curry)

Sabir Hussein Shah holds his nine-year-old son Zeeshan, who was injured in the Oct. 8 earthquake, as he is treated after having his arm amputated at a field hospital in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2005. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)David Guttenfelder / AP

This photo of a little boy, his arm newly amputated, desperately reaching for the comfort of his father, is just one of the many heartbreaking images we've seen from Pakistan.

So why is it that Americans have not been moved in any significant numbers to help the tens of thousands of people devastated, like the father and son in the photo, by last month's earthquake?

Is it because, after this year's tsunami and hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we are now gripped by disaster fatigue? 

Do we care less because Pakistan is where our nation's number one enemy, Osama Bin Laden, is believed to be hiding?

Or does the blame rest with journalists, who did not cover Pakistan's earthquake with the same intensity as we covered the tsunami and hurricanes? This last question especially troubles me, though it is not for lack of my trying.

This past Tuesday, the quake's unofficial death toll rose to 86,000. It gets worse. UNICEF recently predicted far more, perhaps twice as many, could die from exposure and hunger, as winter is now descending on Pakistan. UNICEF estimates that about 120,000 children had not even been reached. Temperatures are already falling, and humanitarian workers who know my history of reporting on humanitarian disasters have been sending desperate e-mails asking for my help. There are reports of children still wandering around four weeks after the earthquake, searching for their parents.

I hope America is listening. There is still time to help save lives, and to show the world how big the heart of our country is.

On Thursday morning on the "Today" show, Ann Curry interviewed Ann Veneman, executive director of UNICEF and Alex Erolin of American Refugee Committee International, who has just returned from helping survivors in Pakistan. Click here for that video.

E-mail Ann at

Viewer e-mails | Nov. 14, 2005 | 5:59 p.m. ET

Ann, I do believe that, overall, Americans are very generous people.  After the tsunami hit, it seemed that every news broadcast mentioned where and how people could donate and help.  When the earthquake hit, I had more difficulty locating information regarding where and how to donate money for Pakistan.  Broadcasts didn’t seem to give donation information at the end of each broadcast, as I heard after the tsunami.  After watching several heart wrenching broadcasts, I was moved to search and find that I could donate to Unicef.   I also think that after so many worldwide tragedies and energy prices skyrocketing, some people might have felt they just didn’t have additional funds to spare.  On a positive note, watching footage of many of the victims made me seek out the necessary information and donate what I felt that I could afford. --Roberta S., Mass.

Sorry Ann, but when we are told that Pakistan is a nation that 85% or more, depending on the poll, wishes us dead, well, don't expect much help from those of us who kinda resent that -- even to help the crying children. Americans are still the most generous and compassionate in the world....but not to our enemies..... --Name withheld

I am very concerned about the Pakistani survivors but have not the means to do anything financially but,my feeling is this - If President Bush would stop the Iraqi war and give money to the suffering Pakistanis it would do more to produce peace than this war can ever do. I know I sound idealistic but peace through good will is where I think we should be going. I can't believe we'd let these people suffer and die like this. --Pat Kadelski

Thanks Ann, your coverage is SO IMPORTANT to keep the world informed and giving.  In fact, you inspired me to finally cough up more dollars in spite of my own "donor fatigue" after the tsunami and the hurricanes. --Elaine Schmottlach, Nottingham, N.H.

I believe we Americans’ do care about the tragedy in Pakistan and not just because they are supporting our war on terrorism.  I think we can because it is a humanitarian issue.  I think we have a lot on our plates right now and it’s hard to do as much as we did during the tsunami relief.  It was relatively quite during last year’s tsunami and it was really the only crisis we focused on.  Things are a little for us now; a killer hurricane season (Katrina, Rita, Wilma, etc.), flooding in New England, tornadoes in the Midwest, mud slides and fire in California, high gas prices, high heating oil prices, and stagnated wages.  I can go on and on just like the media does but I think I made my point.  The times are different.  I, for one, have not forgotten the people of Pakistan.  I have done the only thing I can… I contributed to the International Red Cross, the American Red Cross International Crisis funds and Doctors Without Borders.   --Nita Hill

Dear Ann, Thank you so much for publicizing this incredible human drama. I am ashamed as an American that there are still villages where no aid has reached but we can afford the Iraq war and massive tax cuts for the wealthiest 5%. I hope your work frees up one or more helicopters to at least assess the damage and needs. Keep up the good work! --Pete Alberda, Lewiston

It's not that we are turning our heads but the truth is that we are tired of assisting the entire world and receiving not much in return. Here at home we have just been through several major disasters, rather we have just experienced several major disasters with no end in sight to the cost for all Americans which we are glad to bear for each other. The dollar cannot stretch on endlessly -- it just can't.  There comes a time when the entire world must pitch in to help each other. We are not the only nation on earth with money, dwindling at that, there are many. Please don't ever think that the American people don't care, they do but they just cannot continue to bear the entire cost of the worlds problems. God Bless you Ann for all that you do professionally and privately for the less advantaged. --Doris Stanton, Monroe, N.Y.

I am not Pakistani, but I still have to say thank you for covering this disaster in Pakistan.  I am an Indo American and know that Americans throughout the world are despised by more than just Muslims.  American media and government have always turned a blind eye to countries that do not seem to help the U.S. in some way. Issues like aiding Pakistan in this humanitarian effort will not only save lives but will also bolster Muslim trust in the Americans—further assisting in the war against terrorism.  Getting Britons and PM Blair to support the U.S. is not a very difficult feat.  However, acquiring the help of Muslim nations will be a vast help for the CIA and government in furthering its efforts to thwart terror in the United States and overseas
Hopefully, your reports on Pakistan make people in the United States and the world realize that over 80,000 people have died and continue to die—a number much greater in scope than 9-11 or Katrina.  If Americans think that it is no big deal if they die because it will not affect them, they are gravely mistaken.  This Pakistani disaster WILL have a profound impact on America and its allies; it will be used as a springboard for Islamic zealot terrorism if the media and the American government do not do enough. --S R Rana

Dear Ann,  I was deeply moved by your story.  I still pray for the children of the tsunami that devastated Asia.  When I saw the picture of the child who lost his arm I felt I had to write you.  His grief tore through me.  Please let me know what I can do to help him.  --Lisa Reese

Dear Ann: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your work to keep Pakistan in the news is necessary, especially when you zero in on specific survivors and their stories (i.e. the photo of the boy with the newly amputated arm and his father). Your work makes it personal and significant, not just statistics from some place faraway. It seems everyone has disaster fatigue, even the media. All the more reason for you and your colleagues to remind viewers and readers about Pakistan and what we can do to help. How can we help? That was always in the news with the tsunami and Katrina stories. Again, thank you for your work in keeping this before us. --Emily Jones

I've told many people about how little Americans are doing about this and I've gotten replies like, "Why should we help them?" To me it is our obligation as the world's biggest superpower to help anyone in need, ANYONE!! Our lives are way too easy ,we just seem sometimes to have a way of blocking things out of our lives that don't directly affect us.  --DW, Indiana

Of course we care less about Pakistan, and it’s largely due to the lack of media coverage. That’s in contrast to the steady drumbeat of coverage of Iraq War civilian and military casualties. If you asked most Americans, you’d probably find they believe more people have been killed in Iraq than in the Pakistan quake, simply because that’s what we’ve been the most exposed to. --Anonymous

I’m not a Bush fan or a nut about the war on terror but let's face it, Pakistan is not an ally. And last time I checked we have enough problems at home. I am hurt by seeing kids suffer but that sympathy doesn’t extend to anyone who is Islamic, pro-Islam, or even on the fence. Islam is a war to force everyone else to compromise their beliefs. --An ugly American, John W.

Thank you for your story on the Pakistan earthquake. With so many disasters and tragedies taking place this year, I, like so many Americans, have gone blank and want to hide under my desk until it's over. It's hard to take in so much chaos and sadness as we've seen, beginning with the tsunami and carrying on throughout the year with terriroist bombings, the heartbreaking war, Hurricane Katrina (an unbelievable sight that unfolded on television before our eyes) and those that followed. Television is a powerful medium, and the images from the tsunami and from Katrina were terrifying. The photograph of the little boy made me cry. I donated money online today and will pass on your article to my friends. Please keep doing this important work. --Mary Tiegreen

It is NOT because the American peple are heartless but probably because their pocketbooks are Not bottomless!  We can only do so much.  It is not our (Americans) responsibility to correct all the worlds problems.  I think that we have responded well to most of the disasters that have happened, its jsut that there is only so much we can do.  --Harry from Georgia