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Natural Disaster Rocks Pakistan, Afghanistan

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Tuesday’s seismic event, which struck the rugged terrain of Afghanistan and the northern parts of Pakistan, has sent shock-waves through the region, leaving in its wake a trail of destruction and heartbreak. With a reported magnitude of 6.5, the quake claimed 10 lives and injured 62 in KP, with at least 65 homes damaged by the strong tremors. The quake also triggered landslides in Gilgit-Baltistan, though fortunately, there were no reports of casualties in the region. Meanwhile, the cities of Punjab were rocked by severe jolts, causing considerable panic in major metropolises like Lahore, Multan, and Faisalabad.

In Islamabad, an emergency was declared at Poly Clinic and Pims after reports emerged that some high-rises had developed cracks. In light of the Margalla Towers tragedy of 2005, apartment-dwelling citizens were understandably hesitant to spend the night in their homes, opting instead to seek shelter with loved ones or in their cars.

This event serves as a stark reminder to those tasked with disaster preparedness and mitigation of their effects. With the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, the need for robust disaster management infrastructure cannot be overstated. While we cannot prevent natural disasters from occurring, we can certainly take steps to minimize their impact and reduce loss of life.

The damage to residential buildings is of particular concern, given the vulnerability of high-rise buildings to seismic events. If the reports of structural damage to these buildings are accurate, it is imperative that they be thoroughly inspected and cleared for habitation by a competent authority before residents are allowed to return.

As we reflect on the tragedy that has befallen our region, it is important to remember that disasters do not discriminate. They can strike anywhere, at any time, with little warning. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we are prepared to face these challenges head-on, to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.

The alarming reports of buildings being rendered unstable by the recent earthquake have set off alarm bells across the country. If the damage is as extensive as reported, the affected buildings must not be deemed fit for habitation until they are thoroughly scrutinized and certified safe by a qualified authority. Furthermore, it is crucial to ask how such serious structural flaws came about. Were the builders negligent in their duty to incorporate earthquake-proof designs into their plans, or was there some other cause? This incident also brings back memories of the tragic Margalla Towers collapse of 2005. The bereaved families of that disaster never received the closure they deserved, and now other citizens are left questioning the competence of the authorities, even if they are assured that their residences are secure. This only adds to the psychological cost of the calamity.

Likewise, in regards to the reports coming in from KP, it is highly unfortunate that those living in earthquake-prone regions are still at risk even during intermediate seismic activities. The onus falls on the provincial government and its relevant departments to revise the local building codes, if not already done, and enforce them stringently to avoid loss of life and property. It is also imperative to embark on a continuous program to educate the public on the dangers of natural disasters and to guide them on contemporary construction methods that can help enhance the ability of residential structures to withstand natural calamities.

It is only by taking preventive measures that we can hope to minimize the harm caused by natural disasters. Therefore, it is high time that the concerned authorities acted proactively rather than reactively. It is critical to note that natural disasters can occur at any moment, so we must always be prepared for them. In the past, we have seen that even developed nations are not immune to natural disasters. Japan, for example, is highly susceptible to earthquakes, but the Japanese have implemented stringent building codes and have invested heavily in research and development to create disaster-resistant infrastructures. It is time for Pakistan to follow suit and prioritize disaster preparedness to avoid avoidable loss of life and property.

Furthermore, it is crucial to acknowledge that disasters, both natural and man-made, can strike any part of the country, irrespective of its geographic location. The recent earthquake has once again highlighted the importance of developing a comprehensive disaster management strategy. It is high time that the concerned authorities started working towards creating a disaster management plan that takes into account the unique circumstances of each region. A plan that includes risk assessment, mitigation, response, and recovery measures.

It is worth mentioning that the government has made some progress in this regard. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was established in 2005, and it has been tasked with formulating and implementing a comprehensive disaster management strategy. The NDMA has also been working to increase public awareness about disaster management through campaigns and workshops. However, there is still a lot that needs to be done, and the recent earthquake is a reminder of that fact.

It is essential to recognize that disasters are inevitable, but their impact can be minimized through proper planning, mitigation, and preparedness. The recent earthquake is yet another wake-up call for the authorities to take decisive action to prepare for future disasters and ensure that citizens are safe and secure in their homes. It is high time that we learn from our past mistakes and take steps to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.

In conclusion, the recent earthquake serves as a poignant reminder of the need for proper disaster preparation and mitigation measures. It is imperative that the concerned authorities take swift action to ensure that citizens are safe and secure in their homes, and that infrastructure is developed to withstand natural disasters. We must learn from our past mistakes and take proactive steps to prevent such tragedies from happening again in the future.

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