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islamabad high court holds NDMA responsible for murree tragedy in which 23 tourists died in freezing weather

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) today held responsible the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for tragic deaths of 23 tourists.

Hearing a petition today, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah ordered action against those whose negligence led to loss of precious lives in Murree. The Chief Justice of IHC was hearing a petition of Hammad Abbasi, a Murree resident, who demanded action against those responsible for the tragedy.  

Hammad Abbasi said he went to Murree on January 7 and said that neither the tourists were warned of risk to visit the hill station nor were they stopped.

Hearing the case IHC chief judge Justice Athar Minallah asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the National Disaster Management Commission (NDMC) to fix responsibility and take action of guilty officials.

The IHC chief justice was shocked to know that the NDMA had not held a single meeting since March 2018 to evolve a strategy to cope with emergency situation. He called a member of the NDMA to the rostrum and asked him when the last meeting of the NDMC was held. At this, the official informed the court that a meeting took place on February 21, 2013, and the last meeting was held on March 28, 2018.

After hearing this, Justice Minallah said all the concerned people are part of the commission. “It is a powerful body and it is shocking that no meeting took place since 2018.”

Worth noting is that Prime Minister Imran Khan, Opposition leaders in the Senate and National Assembly, ministers for foreign affairs, defence, health, interior, finance, communication, welfare and special education, communication, governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, chief ministers of all the provinces, AJK prime minister, chief minister Gilgit Baltistan, chairman JCSC, and chairman NDMA are part of the commission.

The Islamabad High Court asked the NDMA member whether a letter had been written to the Opposition leader to call a meeting of the commission. At this, the official said the Opposition leader had not asked them to call a meeting.

“You have failed, it was your responsibility to call a meeting, you were responsible for providing a national management plan to the area,” IHC chief justice told the NDMA member.

Meanwhile, Justice Athar Minallah said that had the NDMA ensured that everyone followed the law, such incidents would have not taken place.

IHC chief juduge said, “Everyone included in the [commission] and the entire state is responsible.”

Justice Minallah directed the NDMA member to submit a report on the incident by next Friday and determine the people responsible for the catastrophe while he also directed PM Imran Khan to call a meeting of the commission next week. The court adjourned the hearing of the case till next week.

Javed Mahmood
Written By

I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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