Disaster management

Disaster management

Due to highly vulnerable climate change impact, Pakistan is being hit by natural calamities every year. But the civilian organisations mandated for carrying out rescue and relief operation in the wake of natural disasters lack the capacity and means to perform their role in this regard. Heavy snowfall and multiple avalanches have brought havoc in Azad Kashmir and some areas of Baluchistan. Over 100 people have been reported dead so far and in Azad Kashmir the death toll has reached to 69 which may rise. According to survivors in the Neelum Valley, unspecified numbers of people are still buried in the affected areas of the valley where access by road is impossible.

As usual this time too, military has undertaken the rescue and relief operation for evacuating stranded people, clearing clogged roads and airdropping packets of food blankets and other relief items. After the October, 2005 earthquake, the capacity of National Disaster Management Authority should have been built up to effectively undertake rescue and relief activities immediately after the occurrence of natural calamities. In Sugran Bakawali area of Neelum Valley, one survivor Abdur Rehman Sheikh told that he by himself had to dig out 8 bodies of his family to bury them. He could not send his injured daughter-in-law to hospital because he has to bury the dead ones first.

Because of the media reports of misappropriation in 2005 earthquake affected people rehabilitation funds, the response of international community to provide financial assistance for relief and rehabilitation is not very encouraging. The British daily newspaper Daily Mail story by reporter David Rose against former Punjab Chief Shabaz Sharif was very damaging. Shabaz Sharif vowed to sue the journalist whom he did not and Rose has recently reminded for doing so. The government alone cannot undertake the rehabilitation work for the affected people of big natural disasters and people pay the price of delay in rehabilitation process.

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