MURREE was declared calamity-hit area on Saturday after at least twenty-two persons froze to death in their cars stranded in snow amidst influx of people that led to severe traffic jams on roads leading to the hill station.
In the past also one has seen people getting stranded in northern areas, where it is more hazardous during heavy winter snow and poor road conditions.
However, this time death of men, women and children near the Capital city shocked and upset the entire nation and condolences and grief poured in as the news of tragedy flashed on television screens.
Our concerned departments are always caught unprepared in such emergency like situation.
Instead of pre-empting and preventing a tragedy, they come into action only after it takes place.
If relevant departments had given ears to alert of met office about expected heavy snowfall in Murree and Galiyat, this tragedy could have been averted.The disaster carries many lessons not only for government departments but also people.
There must be official warnings for people to stay at home during inclement and harsh weather and despite warnings if people are heading for such places they must be stopped at check posts and forced to return.
Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of failure of departments concerned and ordered an inquiry into the tragedy.
This should be done immediately and action initiated against those involved in slackness. Troops of Pakistan Army were called for rescue and relief of marooned people.
Camps have been established in the area to provide immediate shelter and food to stranded families.
We are confident that NHA with the help of Pakistan Army would be able to clear all roads at the earliest.
Though there should not be any political point scoring and raising of fingers as done by opposition parties as it amounts to rubbing salt on wounds of bereaved families, yet what happened in Murree is dreadful and should not be forgotten as often is the case when another tragedy hits the country.
The hill station has a capacity of few hundred vehicles to be parked properly and this also applies to rental accommodation and yet when hundreds of thousands of people will turn up for fun in harsh winter weather, the situation could indeed become ugly and dangerous.
It is also important that a mechanism is developed to monitor the flow of people to such places by use of technology.
Doing so will help take timely decisions to avoid saturation in these places. Most importantly, the disaster management authorities need to be equipped with modern equipment and that too in sufficient quantity to deal with any emergency on fast track basis.
Families also need to act responsibly for their own safety and others. Before travelling, they must check weather forecast and get full information about the place they are visiting.
The situation in some rain affected coastal areas of Balochistan is also serious where damage to houses has made hundreds of people homeless.
Sufficient supplies should be sent there to provide immediate relief to them. After assessment, affected families should also be provided with compensation so that they could rebuild their houses.