A Letter To Pakistan From Earthquake-Stricken Türkiye

A Letter To Pakistan From Earthquake-Stricken Türkiye
With thousands of souls lost to the devastation brought by the violent and sudden movement of tectonic plates, my hands shiver as I hold a pen to write down this article for soliciting the Pakistani social media community to come forward and responsibly support Türkiye

As a yabancı (foreign) student in Türkiye by now, I have already spent a few months traversing the different shades of this modern republic on the shores of the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black sea – straddling both West and East with the Middle East located to the south of it, the Caucasus to the north-east and Europe to its west. Barring a few exceptions, I didn’t feel like I travelled to a different culture, as the people here ooze the same warmth as my home culture in Pakistan. Innocence, geniality and readiness to welcome help and learn from those coming from outside are what I have come across so far in the secular successor of the Ottoman empire.

As a student, I have been living in a dormitory with Turkish students being my roommates and with me 24/7 – and perpetually surrounded by everything and everyone that is Turkish. Undeniably, I can say that I am inhaling everything a la Turca. Since I am based in Istanbul, I get to experience and taste everything from many regions – not just Türkiye but also from the Arab world, Iran, Russia, the Balkans, Central Asia and the Caucasus due to a vast number of immigrants and visitors being present from these regions in one of the world’s most vibrant cosmopolitan cities. From börek and ayran to hummus and tabbouleh and from gormeh sabzi to borscht and samsa, I have literally undergone quite a wholesome food therapy to satiate the foodie in me in this food haven of a city.

Apart from the gastronomical exploits, I have also been on the receiving end of an intellectual surfeit of monumental proportions. Regular and passionate indulgences in political, socio-economic, literary and cultural discussions with the youth of the country of all backgrounds, be it the proletarian yet traditionalist ones from the Centre and East of Anadolu, or the bunch of ultra-chic boys and girls from Kadıköy in Istanbul, speaking Turkish with the most urban of all accents available in and around Asia Minor and equipped with the style game where they give some serious competition to the likes of Kardashians and Hadids.

Sightseeing has been on the top of my agenda since the day I did set foot on this land, and why not – when you are in a country blessed with landscapes not just visually attractive but is also intellectually demanding for artists of all kinds, be it writers like myself or painters like “The Tortoise Trainer” famed Osman Hamdi Bey? Istanbul has truly mesmerised me with the dormant strength of its sea, gorgeously domed mosques reflective of Türkiye’s past, and the fact that it is not a mere city but rather an open-air museum, cultural centre, and cafeteria combined into one for the benefit of blessed visitors to this all-embracing city. The details won’t end, but this article will end.

Therefore, I will share with you the details of each of my previous experiences in some other piece – as today, I devote this article to the ravaging calamity that Eastern Turkey has suffered from, which has thrown the entire nation into a period of indefinite mourning.

Now is the time for the world community and Pakistanis in particular to come forward and support Türkiye. The support can come in all forms; it is not just financial, where you donate funds to rehabilitate towns and cities and provide relief to those uprooted by this deadly natural calamity. But you can also extend moral support to the disaster-ridden country by spreading correct information and discouraging and reporting misinformation on media and social media about the hazard. The country reels from extreme anguish with heart-wrenching images coming out from the hazard-ridden areas making everyone lament the sudden and rapid loss of life that occurred overnight while many were asleep and were yet to wake up to commence another day in their life, but fate had something else written for them which they couldn’t undo.

As the rescue and relief efforts are underway now alongside a simultaneous outpouring of international support, with even traditional foes like Greece and Armenia taking the lead in bringing material support to their devastated neighbor, there comes a moral responsibility for each one of us using and consuming social media to use it responsibly while sharing images, videos, and content about the earthquake, its impact, casualties, and areas that have been impacted. You can follow the 4 As regarding the situation and your social media usage (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.). These 4 As are as follows:

1). Abstain from sharing unverified news and information

2). Avoid sharing graphic images and videos

3). Avoid breaching the privacy of individuals fleeing earthquake-ridden and prone areas

4). Assist your local relief effort initiatives and teams spearheading them in the best way possible

What prompted me to pen down an article on the responsible usage of social media has to do with a bizarre yet outlandish Twitter post that I came across while scrolling through the popular social media platform in the early hours of 6th of February when the earthquake had just wrought havoc in the East of Anadolu. The Twitter post under question reported damage caused by the earthquake to the unfinished Akkuyu nuclear plant in Türkiye. The post has been done by a Twitter handle named @CBKNEWS121 with over ten thousand followers. The fake news peddling post is as follows:



Unfortunately, the post has garnered over a thousand likes, close to 1 million verified views, around 600 retweets, and about 200 quote tweets. The post shows a video from the Port of Beirut, Lebanon, where an explosion happened on 04 August 2020, due to a technical issue at an Ammonium Nitrate storage facility.

"Earth tremors of about magnitude 3 were felt here[...] but our specialists have not revealed any damage to building structures, cranes, and equipment," said Anastasia Zoteeva from Russia's state nuclear energy company Rosatom. The official from the Russian company building the nuclear plant in the Eastern part of Türkiye categorically confirmed zero damage to the facility under construction.

Such caution being meticulously observed by each of you can immensely contribute to alleviating the pain and horror unleashed in Türkiye. Therefore, I and everyone else in Türkiye request you to use your social media handle responsibly, as your one click, like, or share can prove fatal or blissful for our fellow citizens awaiting relief packages and assistance from international teams of rescuers. Sharing false information means loss of data and misguidance for those genuinely interested in helping us through all means possible in these extremely uncertain and challenging times for our country.