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If NDMA did its job, Murree could’ve been averted: judge

PM ordered to call the meeting in a week

SAMAA | - Posted: Jan 13, 2022 | Last Updated: 1 week ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Jan 13, 2022 | Last Updated: 1 week ago

Pakistan has a National Disaster Management Commission responsible for laying down policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management. But, the last time this commission met was in 2018. 

This was revealed Thursday in the Islamabad High Court where the judges were hearing a petition filed by a citizen who wanted to know who should be identified as responsible for the deaths in Murree.  The government has formed a committee to look into lapses that led to the deaths of 21 people during a traffic jam during a snow storm in Murree on January 9.

The National Disaster Management Authority's Idrees Khan Mehsud told the court that their last meeting was held in 2018.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah was angered at this revelation and directed the prime minister to call a commission meeting in a week and identify those responsible for the Murree tragedy. 

Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan requested the court grant the government more time, but the chief justice rejected it, saying, “This is a matter of grave importance.” 

“Who will be responsible if another accident happens till the commission’s meeting is called?” asked Justice Minallah. 

Justice Minallah said that if the NDMA had done its job not a single death would have occurred

The court gave the government till Friday to affix responsibility and submit a report on the Murree deaths. 

Mehsud was reprimanded by the court over the NDMA’s failure to fulfil its duties. Justice Minallah said that if the NDMA had done its job not a single death would have occurred. 

Mehsud told the court that only seven meetings of the commission have been held since 2005. He tried to blame the provincial government but the chief justice remarked that only the NDMA is responsible.  

“There is no need for an inquiry as all fingers point towards the NDMA’s failure. If a plan had been in place, no hotel owner would have overcharged tourists.” He said that locals of Murree are being criticized unfairly. “Was it their duty to save tourists or was it the State’s?” 

Talking to the media outside the court, Mehsud said that the NDMA warned all local authorities and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority on December 31. Another “clear warning” was given on January 5. “It is a devolved subject and provincial and district authorities are responsible for making disaster plans,” he maintained.  

National Disaster Management Commission

The NDMC is chaired by the prime minister and its members include opposition leaders in the Senate and National Assembly, defence minister, health minister, foreign minister, finance minister, interior minister, social welfare and special education minister, communication minister, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, chief ministers of all four provinces and Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Kashmir's prime minister, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee or his or her nominee, the NDMA chairman and a civil society representative. 

The commission’s responsibilities are:  

  • lay down policies on disaster management
  • approve a national disaster plan
  • approve plans prepared by the ministries or divisions of the federal government in accordance with the national disaster plan
  • lay down guidelines to be followed by federal government and provincial authorities
  • arrange for, and oversee, the provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation measures, preparedness and response
  • provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as federal government may determine
  • take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or for preparedness and capacity building for dealing with disaster situation as it may consider necessary

The NDMA is the executive arm of the NDMC that manages the whole Disaster Management Cycle which includes preparedness, mitigation, risk reduction, relief and Rehabilitation. 

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One Comment

  1. Syed Razi Uddin  January 13, 2022 10:35 pm/ Reply

    I think there is something wrong with Judge sahib.

    Is Murree affair fall in domain of Islamabad High Court ? A serious Question.

    Yes, Lahore High Court of Supreme Court may have passed such judgement.

    What is Sindh High Court raises eyebrows in speed of case proceedings of Usman Mirza and Noor Muqaddam. Why not !

    NDMA or National Disaster start its work when civil administration declare and Disaster / Announced a National Calamity. Was that called?

    IHC can even blame Army and PAF as there setups exist nearby choking points. Did he knew that 1000s of people were rescued by Armed Forces (much before civil setup asked them to jump in (though its a yearly ritual for them).

    Sad to point out that there were Dozens of people who were given a helping hand to be rescued but they refused as they dont want to leave their vehicles unattended. ASI Naveed and others will not come and confirm whether life saving angel came to their rescue or not.

    There was once a fine institution called “Civil Defence” in Pakistan, which politicians brutally screwed. Its trained volunteers are available everywhere to fight against all type of situations specially war-time.

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