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Murree Tragedy, NA plays Blame Game

Shehbaz Sharif warned that “we will not settle for less than a judicial commission to inquire into the deaths of 23 tourists who got stuck in their automobiles”

ISLAMABAD: The opposition in the National Assembly (NA) has pushed for a judicial investigation into the deaths of tourists amid severe snowfall in Murree. While discussing the Murree tragedy in NA, opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif warned that “we will not settle for less than a judicial commission to inquire into the deaths of 23 tourists who got stuck in their automobiles” amid the heavy snowfall in the area.

The head of the Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, also supported the opposition leader’s call for a judicial panel to investigate the killings of tourists in Murree. He said, “I’ll ask you to use your good offices to organise the judicial committee.”

The National Assembly also offered Fateha for the departed souls of those who died in Murree and Sadiq Sanjarani’s deceased brother.

During the address by the information minister, Fawad Choudhary, members of both parties exchanged harsh words. Fawad called the PML-N leaders, particularly Shehbaz Sharif, “Tiny Men” (bonay) who could not become leaders after 30 years of rule. He said that he expected Shehbaz Sharif to address the House like a leader, not an ordinary guy. But even after 30 years in the government, the PML-N president “failed to transform himself into a leader because leaders are born, not created.” He also accused that not a single cent was spent on Murree throughout the PML-N term and “now they are teaching us.”

During the information minister’s address, the opposition continued to chant “Liar and Sharam Karo.” 

Asad Mahmood, the Parliamentary Leader of JUIF, claimed thousands of motor vehicles carrying tourists visited Murree after the information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, tweeted inviting people to travel to the hill area.

It was announced earlier that both the government and the opposition had agreed to postpone the debate on the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2022, to address the Murree catastrophe.

Pakistan’s opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif drew attention to the 23 tourist fatalities in the Murree events, saying that they were not the result of a natural tragedy, but the result of the failure of men and clear evidence of government failure that could not be forgiven, reports CNN.

Even when people were dying in Murree, Shehbaz claimed, one Nero (Imran) was resting in Islamabad, while the other Nero (Usman Buzdar) was chairing a conference in Lahore to plan cheating in local body elections. Imran Khan’s tweet, in which he stated the administration was caught off guard and tourists should have been careful when they headed to Murree after receiving weather updates, was disappointing.

Shehbaz suggested that the Prime Minister resign if his administration could not control the surge in Murree and prevent a humanitarian disaster. After three years in power, Shehbaz lamented that the PTI administration had done nothing but victimise opponents and put opposition leaders up against the wall. 

Shehbaz Sharif insisted that the public would not forget the government’s and its administration’s criminal carelessness that resulted in the deaths of 23 people.

After learning of the murders in Murree, Fawad Chaudhry changed his tune and began blaming the victims, arguing that they should not have been to Murree. He remarked, “We have not witnessed such a hypocrite in the country’s history who took a U-turn the following day.” He also criticised the statements of the Prime Minister for suggesting in his tweet that travellers should have verified the weather before travelling to Murree. 

It has become regular with government people that they start victim-blaming after every incident.

He also said that although all other commodities had increased in price during the PTI’s three years, human blood had decreased in price. The son of Imran Khan, stuck in Chitral, was rescued by an army helicopter, but Bilawal reminded him that the same did not happen for Murree. He also requested that the government refrain from making the tragedy political. He remarked that the current administration should have learned compassion before conducting politics on this problem.

Bilawal Bhutto agreed with the opposition leader that an independent investigation was necessary to uncover the truth behind the tragedy. He said that the Punjab chief minister did nothing more than fly over Murree to pay a visit rather than take part in the rescue and relief efforts.

Salahuddin of MQM noted that both the federal and provincial governments and the local administration had responsibilities for preventing such disasters. He insisted that once the Met Office forecasted major snowfall in Murree, a red alert should have been issued. 

At least 850 blankets and food were supplied to 10,000 tourists, according to Murree Sadaqat Abbasi, a PTI member of parliament. There are plans in place to prevent future catastrophes like this one, he added. 

According to Minister of Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, the civil administration and the military forces carried out rescue attempts and cleared all highways in twenty-four hours. Over the previous five days, he claimed, 1,64,000 cars entered Murree. He argued that domestic tourism in Pakistan is flourishing because of government measures that promote it.

Shehbaz Sharif, the Opposition Leader, called for a Judicial Commission to investigate the deaths of tourists in Murree because of severe snowfall. He claimed that the government had no strategy in place to safeguard visitors from it. He asserted that the government’s criminal and administrative ineptitude is to blame for the Murree catastrophe.

The ANP’s Amir Haider Khan Hoti and the PTI’s Riaz Fatyana, the Balochistan National Party’s Agha Hasan Baloch, the PML-Murtaza N’s Javed Abbasi, and Jamaat-e-Maulana Islam’s Abdul Akbar Chitrali and Mohsin Dawar called for the construction of parking lots and roads around Murree as well as an immediate action to prevent further tragedies. Both Amir Haider Hoti and Maulana Chitrale requested a commission of legislators to investigate the murders of innocent tourists. 

Murtaza Javed Abbasi said that the administration was making false claims about the number of cars entering Murree and the time to clean the roads after the snow stopped falling.

Mohsin Dawar referred to the sad killings in Murree as the collapse of state machinery. 

“The situation is completely under control,” declared the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on social media on January 5. The government, according to Federal Minister Hammad Azhar, would seek to improve Murree’s infrastructure in all respects. In addition, he recommended that his government require that hotel rooms be reserved in advance to curtail the growing practice of hotels charging excessive rates.

Despite the harsh weather, linemen persisted and restored power to three Murree feeds within 12 to 14 hours, according to the ministry. 

The House also accepted a move to suspend regular business on Tuesday and Wednesday for the discussion of the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2021.

Aimen Bukhari
Written By

Works at The Truth International Magazine. My area of interest includes international relations, peace & conflict studies, qualitative & quantitative research in social sciences, and world politics. Reach@ aimen.bukhari@tti.org.pk

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