ISLAMABAD: In the aftermath of Monday’s massive earthquake, army troops mobilised to provide relief to people in remote areas while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed a crisis cell to be set up for coordinating with all federal civil, military and provincial agencies.
Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid told reporters during a news conference in Islamabad on Monday evening that on directions from the premier, a crisis cell had been set up at the PM House in Islamabad.
This cell, Rashid said, will coordinate damage assessment, rescue and recovery operations. A release from the PM House said that Kazim Niaz, the joint secretary of the PM’s office, will be heading this cell.
Rashid added that the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority had been asked to return from a foreign tour immediately to coordinate relief activities. The PM has also directed all federal civil military and provincial agencies to mobilise their resources to help the affected people.
Meanwhile, the PM House said that Nawaz has directed Capital Development Authority to dispatch its sniffer dogs and trainers to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to help in rescue efforts. Further, the governor of K-P has been directed to mobilise the tribal administration to mount a relief and rescue mission in the affected areas.
The governor of Gilgit-Baltistan has also been directed to reach the region to take charge of rescue and relief efforts there.
Army mobilises troops
Army chief General Raheel Sharif flew to some affected areas before going to Peshawar.
According to the military’s media wing, ISPR, he was briefed by the Corps Commander on the situation and the army’s response.
He was told that the Karakorum Highway was blocked at five different places blocking around five kilometres of the road and that units of the Frontier Works Organisation had been dispatched to clear it. Further, quick reaction forces and helicopters have been mobilised to Malakand, Dir, Chitral, and Bajaur to mainly help with rescue work while all combined military hospitals (CMH), emergency equipment have been put on alert.
On this the army chief directed troops to carry out rescue work in affected areas without having to wait for formal orders. Further, he directed units to make their way to remote areas to extend help.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2015.