GILGIT: Landslides and flash floods heaped more misery on Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) on Saturday, causing the death of two women who were hit by rocks after a landslide.
Heavy rains and massive landslides have been battering the region for the past six days, filling the populace with a sense of foreboding.
The opposition has called upon the administration to act on a war footing to mitigate the suffering of affected people.
Life stands paralysed in the region as landslides have severed road links with the rest of the country, causing a shortage of food, medicines, fuel and other essential commodities.
Landslides have also damaged power stations, suspending their operation and causing an electricity crisis as bad weather has made carrying out repair work virtually impossible.
The weather has also been hampering attempts to reach out to the beleaguered as rehabilitation of the road network, including work on the Karakoram Highway (KKH), could not be undertaken. Work on a road link with China has also come to a halt.
According to the Met office, no respite from rain is likely before Tuesday.
A fresh landslide struck a village in Haramush area of Gilgit on Friday night, killing two women and injuring two others. It damaged 50 houses and a vast track of farmland and blocked the link road leading to the village.
The deceased were identified as Haleema and Howa and the injured women were taken to a hospital in Gilgit.
A pregnant woman reportedly died while she was being taken to a hospital ‘on foot’ from Hisper villager of Nagar district.
According to the Inter Services Public Relations, C-130 planes have brought wheat bags from Islamabad and helicopters are bringing stranded travellers — foreign tourists among them — from Gilgit, Hunza and Diamer to Islamabad.
The operation will continue till all stranded people are rescued, said the military’s public relations wing.
The opposition parties have criticised the federal and regional governments ‘for not taking the situation seriously’.
The Leader of Opposition in GB Legislative Assembly, Haji Shah Baig, said that no food stock had been left in different areas of the region.
Mr Baig alleged that the regional government had failed to provide relief to rain-affected people and restore road network.
“Thousands of people, who have become homeless after demolition of their houses in landslides and floods, are living in the open without having any facility.”
He alleged that Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman and other representatives of the GB government, who were in Islamabad, had taken no step to improve the situation. People have launched efforts on their own to revive life and restore roads.
Speaking at press conference, local PPP leaders said the PML-N government was treating GB people like foreigners, rather enemies.
Amjad Hussain, the chief of the party’s GB chapter, lamented that even a disaster of historic proportions had failed to jolt the federal and regional governments out of their `indifference and apathy’.
He alleged that relief funds were being embezzled by local leaders and activists of the PML-N and the regional government was taking revenge from its political opponents.
Javed Hussain, a PPP leader from Nagar, said his district was the most affected area and warned of an alarming situation there if people are not provided food and medicine.
Imran Nadeem Shigri, a PPP member in GBLA, said Baltistan was facing shortage of food and fuel following blockade of KKH and Gilgit-Skardu road.
He said flash floods and landslides have also destroyed water channels. As a result no water is available for drinking and irrigation purposes.
Thousands of people travelling on KKH have been stranded in different areas of Kohistan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for a week.
Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2016