As things stood as of 11a.m. today (source: Pakistan Met Office)
What the approaching storm has shown also, however, is the inability of most of Pakistan's electronic media in not only grasping basic scientific concepts but also to read simple press releases. Not only did it initially not understand that meteorologists can only make predictions based on probability about the movement of the cyclone while it was still 1100 km away, it could not even grasp the idea of naming storms. So Geo at one point, about two days ago, was claiming that the cyclone would not hit Karachi even though the Met Office press release clearly stated that its predictions were for the cyclone to curve towards Karachi after initially moving in a north-west direction from Oman. And various channels were attributing the same cyclone as making landfall simultaneously in Gwadar in western Pakistan and Indian Gujarat in the east while sparing, bizarrely, Karachi and other Sindh coastal areas in between.
But the idea of naming storms with non-scientific names - quite a normal occurrence in the West - is what has really confused the hell out of some in Pakistan's media. The fact that the name has been coined by a regional storm watch centre and is actually a Thai word, "Phet", meaning 'Diamond' has not helped matters. So one reporter I heard on Aaj TV was earnestly telling viewers about how 'whichever country the Diamond cyclone has ever hit in history, has suffered great damage.' As if this particular cyclone is something that has existed forever and keeps being reborn periodically.
Even more confusing for the media and Pakistanis is the fact that "Phet" is apparently pronounced as 'pet' in Thai, which the Met office, to its credit, had been at pains to point out from the beginning. Geo managed to cotton on - even though written in Urdu it looks like they are talking about a tummy ('paet') - but not everyone has been as bothered about pronunciations. And of course some, such as the recently dormant punning headline makers at Express Tribune, just couldn't let it go without having some fun.
So, we had this story from yesterday, detailing that the cyclone, initially expected to make landfall today, would not get here till Sunday, headlined:
"Phet not, cyclone delayed to Sunday"
And today, we have:
"Thatta, Badin 'Phet-up' of the cyclone"
Here are some we could yet see in ET:
1. Headline for story about President Zardari directing local departments to make contigency preparations (he actually said this yesterday, did he really need to say it? If so, God help us): 'Make Preparations Phet-a Phat, Zardari Orders'
2. Headline for story about the sad state of coastal fishermen forced to stay away from their livelihoods for days: 'It's Always Our Phet, Say Dejected Fishermen'
3. Headline for story about DHA Phase 8 residents, most exposed to the cyclone among ET's target market because of the lack of developed surroundings: 'Phase 8 residents say 'Humari Phet Rahi Hai'
Good luck to all.