Record snowfall, footfall in Murree left officials helpless: minister

Published January 9, 2022
In this file photo, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a post-cabinet meeting presser in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a post-cabinet meeting presser in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: Murree received unprecedented snowfall over the past 48 hours and along with it a record influx of tourists, which was next to impossible to handle for the local administration, says federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry.

Accompanied by Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood, Mr Chaudhry was addressing a press conference here on Saturday. He said the government was promoting tourism but that did not mean hundreds of thousands of people could converge at one point in less than 24 hours. As per the commissioner, the record-breaking snowfall occurred after decades creating such a challenging situation.

Stresses need to learn lessons from the tragedy

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of the situation and directed Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to reach Murree. Dilating upon the rescue efforts, he said the local administration was working hard, as five platoons of the army had been moved and the Frontier Works Organisation had deployed its men and machines to clear the roads.

“The government is fully alive to the problems and standing with the people in this difficult time. The situation was improving as all the relevant departments were busy overcoming it.”

Kuldana and Barian were the most affected areas and the deaths have also been reported from there. But the situation was improving fast as the Murree Expressway had been cleared for traffic and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had opened all routes from its side, he further said.

Mr Chaudhry said there was a need to learn lessons from the tragedy and ensure proper management in the future. He regretted that the opposition was playing politics on the tragedy instead of extending a helping hand to the victims.

He also said the process of evacuating people from the affected areas was under way and the entire nation mourned the loss of precious human lives. It was obvious that such a huge influx of people could not be managed easily, he remarked.

Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, who is also the PTI’s Punjab chief, briefed the media about a meeting of the Punjab Advisory Council and said all party workers and organisations had been directed to extend all possible support to the rescue efforts in Murree.

He said it was decided to constitute a provincial organisation of the party having different office-bearers. The organisation would be formed at the district and provincial assembly constituency levels. Award of tickets for the upcoming local government elections was also discussed, he added.

He said the PTI was confident and would contest the local government elections with full preparation.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2022

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