Who is responsible for loss of 22 lives in Murree?

The government is not ready to accept that it failed to ensure the safety of tourists in Murree

22 people including 10 children lost their lives due to snowstorm in Murree. They all froze to death in their cars as they stranded in the heavy snowfall. The families saw their loved ones lost lives in front of them as they helplessly watched. One family lost seven members as they suffocated in their car waiting for help to arrive. But no help arrived on time to save them.

The blame game has started after the tragic death of 22 tourists in Murree hill station. The government is blaming the tourists and opposition and tourists are blaming the government. 

The government is busy putting the blame on tourists. The government has failed to ensure the safety of tourists. on the one hand, government wants to promote tourism in the country but on the other hand, government is not ready to invest in the local infrastructure to provide all the basic needs and facilities in any emergency situation. The Murree tragedy has exposed that our prime tourist destination lacks rescue and emergency services to help people in need. 

The government is not ready to reasonability of this tragedy. It is not ready to accept the fact that it failed to make arrangements for emergency situation as heavy snow was expected. The tourists thronged to hill station in big numbers. The government failed to stop the influx of tourists despite knowing that Murree cannot handle too many tourists in winter.

The government must accept that its response was slow and delayed. the lives could have been saved if the government departments and local administration responded to the emergency situation immediately without any delay. The civilian authorities in Murree and other tourist destinations must be  provided with modern emergency and rescue equipment and machinery to deal with any emergency situation. 

 One can simply blame the heavy snowfall for the deaths. Declare the deaths of  tourists the result of a natural disaster. No need to ask hard questions from the government. But the problem here is that this tragedy is not just the result of natural disaster but humans also played their part. 

The government could have make proper arrangements to facilitate and guide the tourists. The local administration could have make it sure that tourists must bring proper warm clothes, food and blankets to cope with heavy snowfall.     

The government not only failed to make arrangements to cater the huge number of tourists but also to keep check on the hotels that increased rents of hotel rooms without any reason. The increase was so big that many families were not in the position to afford it.

Many people want to return back to Rawalpindi /Islamabad in the night after spending some time in Murree but first they stuck in the traffic jam and then heavy snowfall made the situation even worse. 

These people went to enjoy the snowfall with friends and families in the famous hill station of Murree. Their entertainment turned into tragedy as severe snowstorm hit the hill station. The government started the rescue operation to evacuate stranded tourists on Saturday but precious human lives were already lost.

The government ministers and PTI social media teams have so far shown callous attitude. First, the government ministers declare the huge influx of tourists as the sign of prosperity and improving living standards. But when 22 tourists lost their lives, the government started to blame the tourists as careless.

They started asking question that why so many people went to Murree. Tourists who died in Murree are characterized as careless. The government cannot take responsibility for its own incompetence.

Senior journalist and analyst Syed Talat Hussain  rightly pointed out in his tweet that “First you couldn’t save them, then you insult them by saying they died of their own negligence, and as if this wasn’t inhuman enough, you unleash jokers to joke about how the public should enjoy snow—use snow spray at home, said one clown. Unbelievable diseased minds.”

Meanwhile, opposition political leaders criticised the government for its handling of the influx of tourists and inadequate preparation. They have raised valid questions. 

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said he was heartbroken over the tragedy in Murree and questioned who was responsible for the deaths.

"Where was the government all the while? What arrangements did it make to deal with such an influx? Incompetence is fast turning into criminality. Prior arrangements & round the clock supervision were the normal SOPs in the past," he tweeted.

Terming the deaths heartbreaking, PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman said governments "needed to be more vigilant about the flood of tourists on the Galiyat routes".

"Instead of seeking more tourists govt should have given a warning for jammed roads. These were tragic & avoidable losses which no one intended, but no one acted in time either. Lessons need to be learnt," she added.

"The job of governments is not only to count tourists but also to make advance arrangements and security measures for them . These deaths are not due to snowfall, but due to government negligence," tweeted PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz.

Raja Yasir Abbasi, the secretary general of the Hotels Association, announced free stay and food arrangements for tourists stranded in Murree.

Speaking to media, he railed against the local administration for their "mismanagement", saying that the death of a police officer and his family were wholly due to "departmental and administrative laziness".

Please stop blaming the victims, accept responsibility and make sure that such incidents never happen again. 

The Editor

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