After snowfall on the mountains, residents of Gilgit-Baltistan are braving subzero temperatures amidst the combined menace of sectarian violence, power outages and skyrocketing prices of essential commodities.
With the mercury dropping several degrees below the freezing point, residents are forced to remain indoors. The Met office on Monday, recorded temperatures as low as -16 °C in Skardu, -13 °C in Astore and -7 °C in Gilgit.
“We have no choice but to shut down our shops before sunset,” said Altaf Hussain, a vendor in Gilgit. Meanwhile, a resident of Ghizer said that working in a shop without heating is impossible, adding that the cold wave frozen water the water in channels and household pipelines.
Furthermore, diseases like cough, flu, pneumonia have been reported among children and women, in the areas located at altitudes between 2,500 to 3,400 metres from the sea level.
As the cold intensifies, locals are forced to chop trees to meet requirements of firewood amid soaring prices of firewood and gas.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2012.