IT has now been four years since the terrible earthquake of October 8 devastated much of the Northern Areas, killing 74,000 people and leaving millions homeless. Thankfully, the grief and dejection at the time the calamity hit is still present. However, the reality cannot be just brushed under the carpet. Four years on, the quake-hit areas present a picture of chaos. Much to ones chagrin, the reconstruction and rehabilitation work has been going on at a snails pace. Reportedly, thousands of projects have yet to be completed. Majority of the affected families continue to live in the worn out makeshift shelters. Likewise, a good deal of basic infrastructure like houses, schools, hospitals and roads has yet to be built. And who is to be held responsible for this messy state of affairs? Admittedly, both the Musharraf regime and the present dispensation cannot escape the blame of straightening things out in the disaster zone. Indeed their failure is colossal. Keeping in view the huge amount of aid that was poured in by the international donors, the government could have worked wonders. The money injected was much more than what had been asked by the then regime. This could have ensured the competition of reconstruction projects within the stipulated time of two years. But far from that, reports of corruption and mismanagement in the relief operations have been flooding the newspapers. While compensation to people who lost their homes has yet to be made, provision of basic services like health and education remain far from satisfactory. Things on the ground are much different from the picture painted by the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority. Most importantly, there is little doubt that we have learnt virtually nothing from the Oct 8 tragedy or from the example of earthquake prone countries like China, Japan and Cuba. In terms of disaster management, we still have a long way to go. The horrible earthquake in Ziarat in 2008, and its aftermath bears testimony to that.