On September 8th, Morroco was hit with a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that killed thousands, injuring and displacing many more. Only a few days later, Libya experienced a major flood with a current death toll of 11,300 and more than 10,000 civilians missing. With many students on campus grieving from recent events, it came as no surprise that Cornell chose to remain silent in the face of these catastrophes. No emails of condolences, seminars or support groups were provided. Yet, if these events happened to any country in Europe, Martha herself would send an email to console students and make a statement of Cornell’s support. For as long as I’ve been a student here, I’ve noticed that Cornell has only ever chosen to empathize with catastrophes that occur in the global north.
In hopes of eradicating the stereotypes against their home country, two Cornell alumni from Pakistan started organizing trips to bring students to their home country starting last year. This past spring break, 24 Cornell students travelled to Pakistan, where they got to learn about the culture and meet notable figures such as the President and the Chief of the Military.
In 2012 Pakistan ranked as the second most dangerous country for women, and annual country reports show a consistent increase in gender-driven violence. The power dynamic in Pakistan is clear; men are in charge and do whatever is necessary (violent or non-violent) to keep women subservient. This ideology allows physical and mental abuse of women and often leads to their death under the label of ‘Honor killings.’ On Feb. 25, the Punjab Assembly unanimously passed the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Bill. This bill marks a turning point for Pakistani women, giving much-needed recognition to the continuous violation of their rights.
Raza Rumi, a journalist and Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College, explained the roots of extremism in Pakistan and described the efforts to deter radicalism in a lecture last week. “The country has in the last decade or so suffered huge losses,” Rumi said. “Between 50 and 80 thousand Pakistanis have died in pure acts of violence and terrorism across the country.”
Rumi, a Pakistani himself, said these deaths include those of civilians and members of the military. Rumi said there have been attacks in airports and headquarters of intelligence agencies and blamed these losses the Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani government has been involved in an operation called Zarb-e-Azb, which targets militant hideouts in Northwest Pakistan, he said.