‘Swords into Shovels’: Some North American and Indian Media Responses to the South Asian Earthquake
The earthquake that devastated Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and parts of India-administered Kashmir on 8 October 2005 was duly covered with varying degrees of professionalism and empathy by the world media. A survey of twelve opinion pieces and editorials from the United States and Canada reveals a concentration on four major issues and a remarkable homogeneity of responses. This media consensus was reflected hopefully and uneasily in the Indian media, as will be evident in my references to The Times of India and the news magazines Outlook, Frontline and India Today. The interface between the two media is indicative of the ways in which media practices mobilize aid and compassion on a global and local scale while contributing to the politicization of disasters. The US and Canadian media discourses were framed largely within an international humanitarian aid discourse, whereas the Indian media projected the earthquake and its aftermath through the prism of Indo-Pak relations. The former is related to historical and political dispensations of international aid through the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, as well as to the need to globalize world economies and thereby democratize them. In its more recent manifestations the discourse of US intervention in particular is linked to the war on terror. Within the latter framework, Kashmir, as the locus of the quake and as an issue of contention, constantly jostled for attention and analysis. Terrorism featured in the local subcontinental context as well, but from an Indian perspective. The comparative analysis outlined in this chapter is valuable insofar as the specificities of contextual agendas are kept in mind as those specifics significantly influence media discourse.
The four issues are: the quake as a harbinger of Indo-Pak peace; the need for the US to play an increasingly proactive role in disasters worldwide; the need for stricter building codes and greater safety, especially for children; and media coverage of disasters and information overload. Six of the twelve articles under survey from North America had a dominant focus on the new possibilities of peace created by the earthquake. Three articles did not mention the peace spin-off.
The most fervent plea for change in the relations between the two countries as well as rejuvenation within Pakistan came from an American of Pakistani origin. Mansoor Ijaz combined his vision of a new subcontinental future with the idea of a more caring America:
This is one time the opportunity should not be lost.…there is a regional need for Pakistan and India to engage with each other in a way that for once genuinely benefits the people of Kashmir by using the humanitarian crisis as the face-saving cover to resolve their half-century old feud.…and there is a grand opportunity for America to redefine itself as the caring and supportive nation it has always been, but that nobody in the Muslim world seems to see anymore. (Ijaz 2005)
The failure of Indo-Pak rapprochement arising out of the quake is now evident. It may have been obvious from the beginning because the burden of expectation placed on the event was excessive, naïve and sentimental. One has only to read of Ijaz's hope that Musharraf will live in tents with the victims of the quake and that Pakistan will reinvent itself to realize the extent of naivety on which these formulations are based. For someone who ‘co-authored the blue-print for a ceasefire of hostilities in Kashmir between Muslim militants and Indian security forces in the summer of 2000’, this article is simplistic in ignoring terrorism and Pakistan's reluctance to accept Indian aid and help across the Line of Control (LOC).
Ijaz is on more controversial ground in his rose-tinted image of the US ‘as the caring and supportive nation it has always been’. While no national history is monolithic, it is plausible that Native Americans or Ijaz's Muslim brethren might disagree with his characterization of the US. The US has always thought of itself as a caring and supportive nation, but the gaps between its self-conception, its actions and the policy imperatives that drive those actions need to be examined carefully (as indeed they have been). Ijaz refers to the Muslim world being wilfully blind to US charity. He ignores the non-Muslim world— Britons, French, Germans and Spanish, for instance—who also detest the US foreign policy. We need to analyse these oppositions to understand how the US foreign policy influences lives around the globe.
Ijaz seems to imply that the earthquake will wipe out problems just as it snuffed out lives. Out of these deaths, he suggests, Pakistani civil society, Indo-Pak relations, as well as America's image in the Muslim world will all be magically transformed:
If we can replenish our military assets to fight wars against terrorists, we can do the same to insure the livelihoods of men, women and children, no matter their creed, color, religious beliefs or ethnicities, to safeguard mankind from the wrath of nature. (Ijaz 2005)
This expression of solidarity is both desirable and sentimental because it refuses to analytically work towards creating genuine transnational, transcultural bonds. At best it is well meant and politically correct; at worst it is disingenuous in its erasure of histories of conflict and domination, particularly vis-à-vis the US.
Ijaz's projection of Indo-Pak peace onto the quake aftermath was not an exception. An unsigned editorial, ‘Remember the Children in Asia's Quake’, published in the Christian Science Monitor expressed the same hope: ‘Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf should now look at other ways to allow his nation and India to cooperate their post-quake actions, while also using the tragedy to call for a total end of violence in divided Kashmir’ (2005). Some militant organizations did call for a ceasefire but they were quickly violated.
Another unsigned editorial, ‘A Chance to Repair Political Fault Lines’, published in the Denver Post, saw hope in Pakistan accepting Indian aid: ‘Unlike the United States, which rejected Cuba's aid offer after Hurricane Katrina, Pakistan said yes’ (2005). That it did so after delays and with considerable reluctance does not figure in the analysis. Too much was read into Pakistan's acceptance of aid which was neither substantial nor likely to lead to a Kashmir solution. This editorial, along with others, drew hopeful parallels with Greece and Turkey and Aceh as examples of disasters healing wounds.
A third unsigned editorial, ‘Swords into Shovels’, published in the Houston Chronicle, drew on the Biblical resonance to stress: ‘Nature, for its part, changed some realities. The earthquake that reached Islamabad and India-controlled Kashmir has devastated the geographical base of Kashmir's insurgency’ (2005). Initial reports did stress the deaths of militants as well as the decimation of their infrastructure. While this was not immediately verifiable, Indian intelligence agencies and media did not report a significant drop in militant activity.
In fact the killing of state education minister, Ghulam Nabi Lone, soon after the quake underlined dismal continuities. As Saleem Pandit wrote:
It [the assassination] was an obvious attempt by terrorists, steadily losing ground in the face of peace initiatives by Pakistan and India, to show they're still around. Already unhappy with the Srinagar–Muzzafarabad peace bus, they were uncomfortable with reports lapped up by India that their camps across the border had been damaged in the earthquake. (Pandit 2005, 1)
In a companion piece, Anand Soondas outlined some reactions to the killing. He quoted one Farah Yusuf, a doctor:
‘It is the most dastardly and un-Islamic thing to do. For a people already numbed by the earthquake, the militant attack, and its corresponding promise of new offensives, couldn't have come at a worse time.’ People are especially shocked because they had let a comfortable thought seep into their system—that the destroyed militant camps in Muzaffarabad would automatically reduce bloodshed. They were encouraged in such a belief after some militant leaders across the LOC announced they would suspend terrorist activities keeping in mind the large-scale devastation cased (sic) by the quake. (Soondas 2005)
It could be argued that Pandit and Soondas had the advantage of writing after the event, that Mansoor Ijaz could not have foreseen this horror. However, there were more circumspect articles written soon after the quake. Pranay Gupte stated the obvious:
The attention of the world's anti-terrorism agencies has been largely directed toward Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, North Korea and Sudan. These rogue states are cited as being the incubators for global terrorism. But South Asia—and specifically Kashmir—has served as a much more hospitable, and widening, sanctuary for terrorists. (Gupte 2005)
Gupte did not go on to analyse the history of the insurgency. He also wrote about an ‘unwritten and abstract axis’ between India, Israel and the US against Islamic terrorism. This axis elides specific causes for terrorism in Kashmir, and paints Pakistan as a rogue state (as mainstream English-language media in India, such as India Today, often does). In his assertion that the problems of terrorism will not disappear with the earthquake (a valid idea) Gupte goes to the extent of essentializing Kashmir as a hub of terrorism. Everyone from Osama bin Laden to Ramirez Sanchez (‘The Jackal’) is purported to have found refuge in Kashmir. It is the type of argument that often sees all of Islam as jihadi in intent if not in deed.
An unsigned editorial in the Montreal Gazette, ‘Help Now, Blame Later’, did not go to the extremities of either Ijaz or Gupte. It did express regret that an opportunity for building bridges had been passed up: ‘A glimmer of hope amid all the destruction and chaos was detected when Pakistan finally accepted aid from India…. The earthquake provided Musharraf with the opportunity to reach across the divide, but he lacked the political courage to take that chance’ (2005). What the Daily Mail called Musharraf's disappointing ‘lack of imagination’ is lamented.
Similarly The Washington Post was cautious: ‘If there is any silver lining to this tragedy, it's that it may shock people into fresh thinking. This can lead to innovations, such as insurance schemes that create incentives to build safer places, or it could lead to geopolitical progress’ (2005). The use of operatives like ‘if’ and ‘may’ in the sentence is indicative of limited possibility and hope. These limitations were clearly stated by Avijit Ghosh:
Earlier this month, when violent tremors convulsed India and Pakistan, the perennially bickering and warring subcontinental neighbours seemed to be united in human tragedy…. Now nine days later, experts on Indo-Pakistan relations as well as former diplomats feel that the two countries have missed out on a glorious chance of reaching out to a larger, wider audience on a people-to-people level. (Ghosh 2005, 20)
By 22 October 2005, Musharraf was in a bind: ‘Domestic analysts and aid officials are telling the Musharraf regime to jettison its fixation with F-16 fighter planes for now and accept India's offer to mount joint operations to save tens of thousands of quake victims.’ That disasters do not always lead to peace overtures was evident: ‘Islamabad has been wary of allowing Indian rescue operations, evidently fearing that the sight of Indian choppers bailing out victims will demolish its claims to Kashmir’ (Rajghatta 2005, 1). By 23 October India and Pakistan had agreed to five points on the LOC where people on both sides could cross over to meet relatives or for medical aid. This tortuous settlement gave the lie to the rhetoric of hope expressed by Ijaz and others.
The chasm between hope and the failure of political will and imagination was perhaps best indicated in the disconnect between Outlook's cover of 31 October 2005, which declared ‘Erase the LOC’ and its analysis of failures, ‘Did Musharraf Mean Yes When He Said No?’ Mariana Baabar traced the trajectory of that failure and cited Pakistani media such as Dawn. She concluded by citing Dr Tanveer Ahmed, former foreign secretary of Pakistan, who referred to the Iran quake in 2004: ‘“The West rallied to help Iran then. But this did not prevent it from moving against Tehran on the nuclear non-proliferation issue.” In the world of diplomacy, nations can separate their heart from mind: they can be generous yet play hardball’ (Baabar 2005, 39). Since diplomacy involves the pursuit of self interests of nations, it is significant that the quake and its aftermath became a site for these competing visions of present and future relations and strategic manoeuvrings. The cover story, ‘Two Lives and a Fuzzy Line’, stressed the local cynicism underpinning notions of self interest:
…in the verdant valley of Kashmir, near the Line of Control (LoC), in desolate villages and devastated towns, eyewitness accounts swear that they are speaking the truth. In the early hours of October 8, after the earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter had killed nearly a lakh, the Pakistan army spent the first few crucial days bolstering the border defences. This was why they didn't go to remote villages, to what were bustling towns, where thousands groaned for help, beseeched for food, clamoured for shelter against dipping mercury and pelting rain. The Pakistan army failed them, they lament. (Baabar, Mir and Asghar 2005, 38)
One result of the relief vacuum created by the Pakistan Army was the alacrity with which jehadi groups stepped in to help. As Baabar et al noted: ‘Analysts say militant cadres are disciplined and honest, they have a nimble network, in contrast to government relief workers who are corrupt and indolent. And because the government has undermined secular, liberal NGOs, it is religious groups who will monopolise the relief work—and the ensuing goodwill’ (Baabar, Mir and Asghar 2005, 44). There is an interesting echo of the aftermath of the quake in Bhuj, Gujarat, where too the more disciplined cadres of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and RSS stepped in to provide relief where the agencies of the state had failed. The failures of state machineries—whether civil or military; the simultaneous undermining of secular civic entities and the rise of fundamentalist organizations—whether jehadi or Hindu right wing; are mirrored on both sides of the border. The quake and its aftermath refocused attention on these complex issues of local and regional significance.
The only North American article among the ones under consideration that was not starry eyed about peace was an editorial in Newsday:
As a grim aside, and a reminder that earthquake-devastated Kashmir is a disputed region in the grip of a fierce Islamist insurgency, suspected Muslim militants killed 10 Hindus in quake-hit villages. With the toll of nearly 30,000 deaths stunning the world, the senseless gratuity of such slaughter is truly appalling. (2005)
While articles in The Times of India and Indian newsmagazines have the advantage of being written after Ijaz wrote his piece, it is interesting that the Newsday edit was published on the day Ijaz's paean to peace and brotherhood was. The vision of the impending peace dividend seemed to have obliterated Ijaz's perception of present slaughter.
The Indian media under survey was never too keen on solidarity or peace and nascent intimations of these ideas were snuffed out after the bombings in Delhi on October 29. A couple of post-29/10 pieces in the Times of India are indicative of this shift in perspective, or reversion to earlier fears and stereotypes of the Islamic ‘other’. Indrani Bagchi's ‘Are Jehadis Getting Quake Funds?’ voices a common suspicion:
As Pakistan's earthquake relief takes on an Islamist hue, the skepticism is growing in India about the end users of relief funds in Pakistan. After Saturday's blasts in Delhi and Wednesday's car bombing in Srinagar, both the handiwork of terrorist groups, there will be reluctance for India to address humanitarian issues in Pakistan with a fear that this could turn against India only. (Bagchi 2005, 9)
The deeds of a few terrorists are conflated with the image and desires of an entire community and humanitarian impulses recede in the face of an intransigent Islam. It is also crucial that India is seen as a victim—perhaps doubly victimized by nature and terrorism—and its own histories of oppression and intolerance are erased.
Another article on 14 November, syndicated from the Sunday Times, London, reinforced ideas of ruthless jehadi elements using the quake aftermath as a cloak for furthering their agenda. ‘Children orphaned by the Kashmir earthquake are being “adopted” by terrorist groups that hope to train them to fight in the jehad, or holy war’ (Nelson 2005, 29). This piece refers only in passing to the plight of children battling hunger and pneumonia; it largely fans paranoia about the growth of Islamic terrorism. At another level, although unconsciously, it highlights the failure of civil society and government, and links up with earlier reports on the relief vacuum created by such shortcomings.
The Indo-Pak matrix was also expressed in terms of contrastive images of the two armies. A boxed item in Outlook put this bluntly:
The criticism against the [Pakistan] army became particularly strident as people compared its endeavour to that of the Indian army. As Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Army leader Amanullah Khan told Outlook, ‘It's a shame as the government on the other side (India) acted promptly. The earthquake, as I foresee, will damage Pakistan's image amongst local Kashmiris and Pakistan could lose their sympathy’. (Baabar 2005, 32)
Another box piece made the contrast clear: ‘In a few hours, an army that had forever been criticized as an “occupation force” became the only face of relief’ (Datta 2005, 38). B. Muralidhar Reddy also emphasized the image problem and its possible political fallout:
Another major area hit by the quake is Pakistan's Kashmir policy, which has been fashioned and dictated by the military. With the whole of the PoK falling in the quake zone, in the medium and long term the establishment would be confronted with the delicate task of balancing its interests in a changed world for the people of PoK. (Reddy 2005, 8)
Reddy went on to contextualize the issue in terms of the centrality of Muzaffarabad and indeed all of PoK for Pakistan's Kashmir policy. None of these articles in themselves mentioned some of the obvious ironies inherent in the Indian Army being seen as a saviour or Amanullah Khan praising ‘the other side’. The focus on image seemed to preclude substantive analysis or historicization of state violence and misgovernance on both sides.
The global media attention and its longevity can be explained partly by the fact that the locus was Kashmir. There were repeated references to the three (actually four) wars fought between the two countries as well as to nuclear-armed neighbours. Inevitably, issues of humanitarian aid and rehabilitation were caught within these strategic concerns. To their credit Outlook, Frontline and India Today dealt with local issues and they were highlighted with particular poignancy in Frontline. All three newsmagazines reported in detail the bungling of relief operations in Jammu and Kashmir where even the army came out badly. As Aijaz Hussain wrote, ‘…there is no excuse for the state and Central administration ignoring vast swathes of areas outside the Line of Media Attention’ (Hussain 2005, 74). This is the only passing reference to the role of the media in determining aid priorities in the articles under consideration, indicative of a lack of self-reflexivity and the extent to which the media takes its ‘positive’ role as granted. However, Frontline did attempt to expand ‘the Line of Media Attention’ in Praveen Swami's dispatch from Tangdhar, ‘The Cold Reality’:
Sadly, the desperation and fear provoked by the inevitability of what lies ahead has brought out the worst in the residents. Three days after the earthquake, tired of waiting for aid, some people in Kandi looted a relief truck. A minor riot then broke out…Inside the truck were 60 tents and few dozen blankets for 300 families. There was no food or fuel. (Swami 2005, 15)
Swami portrays individual lives shattered by the quake as well as the enormity of the rescue operations awaiting the state. It is in the cusp between the two that some sort of readerly solidarity is possible, a movement between the ‘us-them’ dichotomy bolstered by the media, among other agencies. The rhetorical ‘Erase the LoC’ can then perhaps be converted into a more palpable reality of sympathy and help without the need to demonize or separate, a reconstruction on a different plane.
Building Safety Standards for the Future
An editorial in The Washington Post focused, however, on more practical reconstruction: ‘Before urban rebuilding starts, geologists need to determine where reconstruction can most safely be located’ (2005). The Christian Science Monitor editorial was more specific: ‘Schoolhouses must be built to the latest earthquake standards, and children should be given regular training in how to respond during earthquakes. (Japan is especially experienced in such training)’ (2005). The Denver Post and Montreal Gazette also referred to the need for earthquake safe buildings.
The fact that an entire generation had been lost in the collapsed school buildings is poignant and the calls for better building standards entirely justified. What the well-meant editorials seem to overlook—although the mention of Japan's expertise unconsciously highlights the point—is the poverty of the region. Only a major influx of aid can create better buildings and futures. As the Montreal Gazette put it: ‘We in the rich complacent countries can send more money, more supplies, more aid workers’ (2005). Natural disasters and responses to them are no longer, as Katrina illustrated, defined purely in terms of the economic North–South divide. The only viable response in this scenario was highlighted by an editorial in the Sacramento Bee: ‘What's clear is that the response to the threat of earthquakes, tsunamis, pandemics and drought, which still outranks all others as the deadliest scourge, must be international’ (2005).
Role of the US in Disasters
Within this international arena the US is preeminent although Robert D. Kaplan configures the US role from a very different perspective. He projects the US military as a humanitarian agency that could accrue goodwill along with information on terrorists. ‘Indeed, because of our military's ability to move quickly into new territory and establish security perimeters, it is emerging as the world's most effective emergency relief organization’ (Kaplan 2005).
The war on terror is conflated with the war against nature and aid becomes a substitute in Kaplan's world view for earlier commando-style raids against terrorists. Kaplan describes the new aid scenario as ‘unconventional war’ and sees it as a strategic opportunity for the US rather than as an intervention in a humanitarian crisis. Or rather the latter provides the ideal camouflage for pursuing strategic objectives such as ousting Islamist terrorists. The politicization of the quake was inevitable given the Indo-Pak relations, but Kaplan's analysis represents a degree of cynical strategizing that reduces the victims to mere pawns in the US geopolitical interests. Kaplan's is the cynicism or realpolitik, depending on one's point of view, of the US liberal media.
The Indian media was equally sensitive to the fact that earthquake relief operations were an ideal platform for enhancing the US image. This was indicated in a front-page piece syndicated by The Times of India from The New York Times:
While it is too early to reach firm conclusions, anecdotal interviews with earthquake survivors in this picturesque mountain district, known as Mansehra, suggest that American assistance may be improving Pakistanis’ perceptions of the United States—an image that has been overwhelmingly negative here since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. (Rohde 2005, 1)
On the same day, Chidanand Rajghatta, correspondent for The Times, US, pointed to the strategic aspect of the US mission: ‘The US military and Nato forces are securing a solid foothold in Pakistan as the country's need for foreign help has overturned its earlier resistance to American military operating on its soil in the war on terrorism’ Rajghatta was less sanguine about the US presence and quoted domestic opposition: ‘“What will we do if tomorrow we have to fight a war with India or any other country? Will we call NATO forces again to help us in wars?”…he [Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan] asked during a debate on the quake’ (Rajghatta, 16). Quite clearly, the image and perception turnaround that Kaplan and even Rohde hope for is more problematic within contexts of local politics.
Media Coverage of Disasters
Two articles dwelt on the idea of information overload as a result of saturation coverage of which David Warren's piece represents the callousness of the conservative press. A self-defined ‘right wing intellectual’, his column on 12 October 2005, was more about Harriet Miers’ nomination to the US Supreme Court than about the quake. The bit about the latter stated: ‘I'll send what money I can to help with the recovery, and the reader should do likewise. All men are brothers.’ The platitudinous dismissal leads to Warren's central argument that ‘disaster coverage of the world's media has become a little too efficient. It is a mixed blessing, processing by small increments into a curse’ (Warren 2005). At this point I would agree with the idea of a vulture-like efficiency that draws media to disaster sites and reduces everything to a passing drama on our TV screens. From the 2004 tsunami to Katrina to Guatemala to the quake is only a blur; saturation in media coverage may not necessarily enhance memory or empathy. (For an excellent analysis of issues related to media coverage of disasters and genocides, and the ‘effect’ on audiences, see Keith Tester's Compassion, Morality, and the Media).
Warren's point, however, is somewhat different. He thinks this coverage is ‘evil’ because ‘it gives a skewed impression that disasters are becoming more frequent, when really they are just being more prominently reported’ (Warren 2005). The problem seems to be with the frequency of media coverage rather than the actual disasters; if we didn't know about them we wouldn't worry. This is similar to arguments used with references to incidents of rape in India: not that it is an abomination that occurs with sickening regularity, but that it is reported more often.
Warren then answers his question: ‘Why is this [media coverage] an evil? Because it feeds public demand for obnoxious and intrusive legislation, to “do something” to obviate risks that are, in the main, beyond human power to avoid. Our media have, both wittingly and unwittingly, bought into a “Kyoto syndrome,” that feeds on junk science and exploits paranoia’ (Warren 2005). It is stunning the way in which Warren dismisses ozone depletion, climate change and environmental depredations attributable to human activity as ‘junk science’. His reference to the ‘Kyoto syndrome’ indicates a conservative contempt for rolling back or controlling emission levels or reigning in consumption of automobiles and fossil fuels. His argument is the ‘obnoxious’ conservative one for less government investment whether it be levees in New Orleans or better housing in Balakot. The South Asian earthquake is used as a pretext for bashing the media and environmentalists.
Warren ends with another platitude: ‘We will all die; but by the end of days, only a tiny fraction of us in natural catastrophes. Let us live with that.’ Even statistically the ‘tiny fractions’ are increasing as the Washington Post emphasized by quoting figures: 1,40,000 dead in the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone; 2,30,000 in the 2004 tsunami. Warren presents a cynical argument that expresses contempt for the poor and the future of the planet. As Polly Toynbee put it in a piece on Hurricane Katrina: ‘Katrina lifts the lid on the hidden America invisible in sitcoms, but above all shows how the rich don't acknowledge shared nationhood with the rest’ (Toynbee 2005). For Warren and his ilk solidarity with the poor—whether in Louisiana or in Muzzafarabad—is a media conspiracy to increase government spending on public works. Mansoor Ijaz's analysis may be naïve, but it is without the bad faith of David Warren.
Inevitably a survey such as the one outlined in this chapter throws up varying points of view, ranging from the overly empathic to the balanced to the plainly cynical. As always, what is left unsaid is often as significant as what is repeatedly highlighted. For instance, the idea of media overload was mentioned by David Warren but twisted to suit his own conservative agenda. The Sacramento Bee editorial also referred to information overdrive, but neither analysed the ways in which disasters become media events, how they proliferate in the public domain, and then disappear till the next disaster.
A large number of pieces dealt with extremes, whether liberal or conservative. Perhaps Sandip Roy captured best the ambiguity and agony of Kashmiris caught up in the twin disasters wrought by nature and politics. He quotes Agha Shahid Ali to convey the duality of Kashmiri existence: “I am being rowed through Paradise on a river of Hell.” He also refers to the Shenaz Kausar case: ‘Did Shenaz Kausar's daughter with her star-crossed bloodlines have the last laugh today, as the earth split into two to show, as Agha Shahid Ali wrote, that we are stitched to each other's shadows?’ (Roy 2005). The construction of Kashmir as paradise, its hellish actuality, the immutable bonds across the LOC, the politics of aid, and the continuing trauma of the earthquake survivors are best summed up in Agha Shahid Ali's words.
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