Destroyed and deserted: Expecting to be rescued without relief

A distraught woman sits among the ruins of her collapsed house; File Photo

A distraught woman sits among the ruins of her collapsed house; File Photo

ISLAMABAD: With the death toll increasing exponentially, the response seems to be not proportionate to the scale of natural calamity. Balochistan’s nationalist parties and leaders claim that the province is being neglected – as is the norm – even amid a disaster of epic proportions.

“Hundreds of critically injured people are still waiting for medical relief in most of the affected areas, particularly Awaran where 85 per cent of the houses have collapsed,” said Sajid Tareen, vice president of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M). “It’s the same dismal and desperate situation in Turbat and other affected areas.”

Hundreds of people are still trapped under the debris due to the inadequate relief work, he added.

The absence of a functioning and equipped Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PMDA) is a major cause for concern,” he pointed out. Heavy machinery, helicopters and other equipment required to rescue the stricken people are not available with the PDMA, Tareen explained. There is an immediate need of shelter houses for those who have survived, but the government even does not have tents for the hundreds rendered homeless.

“There is a dire need for relief workers to bury hundreds of people who have been killed. The government doesn’t even now have the actual number of causalities.”

Those homeless people are eagerly waiting for help but the government is depending completely on the army and the Frontier Corps (FC).

Another setback to the rescue and relief of the victims is the non-existence of a provincial cabinet. “How can a provincial government look after the affected population of the province when its chief minister has failed to form a cabinet even after four months in office,” Tareen questioned.

The victims are in the urgent need of medicines, blankets, drinking water and food. The government of Balochistan has imposed emergency in Kech, Awaran, Panjgour, Khuzdar and Gwadar districts.

Meanwhile, Baloch leader Nawabzada Jamil Akbar Bugti, while speaking to The Express Tribune, said, “The Baloch are already facing the ordeal of man-made disasters in the province, and now they have to face a natural calamity beyond their control.”

The Baloch leader said that the state machinery, including Balochistan government, is incompetent and incapable of providing relief to those in need. “The affectees of Kashmir from the 2005 earthquake are still waiting for relief to this day. How can the Baloch population expect anything when such an attitude prevails within the governing authorities?”

In contrast, the provincial information secretary of the ANP, Naik Mohammad Kakar, lauded the army and the FC for their prompt help to the earthquake victims. He said that army helicopters are engaged in relief work and many of the injured have been moved to safe places with food and other essential items.

Source: The Express Tribune

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