Questions for Buzdar, Rawalpindi commissioner, others


Murree tragedy inquiry: Questions for Buzdar, Rawalpindi commissioner, others

ISLAMABAD: The prime minister has ordered an inquiry into the Murree tragedy, which will have to find answers to many questions that are key to the calamity and mainly pertain to the role of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and the commissioner Rawalpindi.

Did Punjab Chief Minister Buzdar hold any meeting prior to the winter season and after the met office had predicted heavy rains and snowfall in the Murree area? Are the minutes of any such meeting available?

Did the chief minister or his office monitor the situation and what measures did Buzdar or his office take to prepare for the emergency which was clearly forecast by the Met department? In all such matters relating to Murree, the commissioner Rawalpindi plays a critical role. Before the tragedy, when did the commissioner last visit Murree? Did he hold a preparatory and coordination meeting in the popular hill resort?

Historically, the commissioner Rawalpindi holds a meeting of all departments (federal and provincial) at the Jinnah Hall Murree to ensure preparedness prior to the snowfall season. Did the incumbent commissioner, Gulzar Shah, hold this meeting in Murree? When and where are the minutes of the meeting?

The deputy commissioner Rawalpindi, as per the lawand SOPs, is responsible for emergency and relief measures in such calamities. When did he first reach Murree once news of heavy snowfall and a tourist influx was reported? Did the commissioner and DC Rawalpindi reach in the morning of Saturday 8th Jan –after the tragedy — or before?

The government has provided special camp offices to both the commissioner and DCO Rawalpindi at Murree. These camp offices have a certain purpose. During the height of the tourist influx in summers and winters, these key officials should ‘camp’ in Murree. Camp offices are not provided for holidays but for the performance of official duties. What role did the RPO and CPO Rawalpindi play in this crisis?

The provincial government, DC and commissioner are empowered to “requisition the army in aid of civil power” if the situation is not manageable. Murree is a large garrison town with the GOC and station commander based there. Why was the army not requisitioned by the provincial government or commissioner and DC in time?

The expressway to Murree is the responsibility of the NHA. Keeping the expressway clear is the responsibility of the NHA, which comes under the communication minister Murad Saeed. Did minister Murad Saeed, federal secretary communications or chairman NHA hold any preparatory meetings once the huge snowfall was predicted? What role did the NHA and motorway police play to facilitate motorists and tourists on the Islamabad Murree expressway? The key time to act was between 12 midday on Friday and 12 midnight.

The inquiry ordered by the PM will have to determine who did what prior to this crisis and during these crucial 12 hours. Relief and rescue is the responsibility of the Punjab Disaster Management Authority. What did the PDMA do during this crisis? What was the role of the NDMA?

Provincial secretaries of highways and local government traditionally have critical roles in managing Murree snowfall seasons. What was the role of the provincial ministers and secretaries responsible for these departments?

The Intelligence Bureau and Special Branch are regarded as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the government. Did the IB and SB report to the PM and CM that the preparedness of the administration and departments in this case was not up to the mark?

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