Govt under fire for Murree tragedy

Shehbaz questions arrangements to deal with tourist influx

​ Our Correspondent January 08, 2022
Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif and PPP's Bilawal Bhutto Zardari speaking to the media in Islamabad on November 17, 2021. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB/File


The opposition on Saturday lashed out at the government for its handling of the influx of tourists in Murree and inadequate preparations, following the tragedy at the hill station that left at least 22 dead.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said he was “heartbroken” over the death of tourists in Murree.

“What a massive tragedy Murree is turning out to be! Heartbroken to learn about the loss of so many precious lives,” the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly tweeted.

"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."

Shehbaz also expressed his condolences to the bereaved families and prayed for the departed souls.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also expressed his sorrow over the Murree tragedy, saying that the whole nation was saddened over the incident.

The PPP chief also condoled with the bereaved families.

“It would have been better if the tourists were informed about the weather in Murree in advance,” he said in a statement issued by his party’s media cell on Twitter.

“The administration should immediately begin rescue services for the tourists," he added.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz censured the government for its “negligence”.

“The job of governments is not only to count tourists but also to make prior arrangements and security measures for them,” she tweeted.

She added that those who made “fun of Shehbaz’s boots” were now trying to “save their government while sitting in their palaces”.

“These deaths are not because of the snowfall, but due to government negligence.”

 PPP Vice President Senator Sherry Rehman termed the deaths as “heartbreaking”.

She wrote on Twitter that governments needed to be more vigilant about the flood of tourists on the Galiyat routes in extreme weather.

“Instead of seeking more tourists, [the government] should have given a warning for jammed roads,” she added.

Read Calamity in Murree as at least 20 tourists freeze to death in cars

“This is the norm in perilous weather in all such destinations.”

She maintained that these were tragic and avoidable losses, which no one intended, but no one acted in time either. “Lessons need to be learnt.”

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also criticised the government, saying a few moments of happiness in pleasant weather were ruined by the “poor arrangements” of the government. “Instead of giving relief to the people, the rulers have left people helpless,” Fazl added.

PML-N senior leader and former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi blamed PM Imran and the Punjab chief minister for the tragedy, saying that the “culprits” were sitting in the power corridors.

“The culprit is Imran Khan. The culprit is [Punjab CM] Usman Buzdar,” Abbasi said, adding that it was the failure of the government, which did not care about the people.

“They are sitting only to prolong their rule,” he claimed. “The government should take responsibility of the incident and accept its failure. It’s your negligence; you will have to admit it.”

PPP’s Shazia Marri also lamented the government’s “helplessness” over the loss of lives.

“The snowfall in Murree has exposed the government’s incompetence,” she added.

Lashing out at the Punjab CM, Marri regretted that the “incompetent” administrator was not being able to handle the situation. “Tourists have died due to the incompetence of the government.”

Reacting to the criticism, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said it was unfortunate that the opposition was “playing politics over the matter”.

"The opposition's politics, however, does not hold any importance," he added while addressing a news conference accompanied by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood.

Fawad insisted that the opposition would criticise no matter what.

He added that the government was fully alert to the situation.

“The situation is improving. The [Murree] Expressway is now open and more routes will be opened soon.”


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