Saturday, January 08, 2022
LAHORE: Chief Minister of Punjab Usman Buzdar on Saturday attended a PTI meeting while tragedy unfolded in Murree.
He was attending a meeting at the Chief Minister House presided over by Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood, who has been named PTI's president for the Punjab chapter.
Governor Punjab Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar; Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry; Provincial Minister of Punjab for Forestry Sibtain Khan; Provincial Minister of Punjab for Housing, Urban Development, and Public Engineering Mian Mehmood ur Rasheed; and close confidante of Prime Minister Imran Khan Usman Dar also attended the meeting, besides other provincial lawmakers.
The meeting went on for 2.5 hours during which party-related issues were discussed.
It was only after the meeting that Buzdar declared Murree a calamity-hit area, Geo News reported. Buzdar also directed the Punjab chief secretary to get in touch with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary, after which the Punjab chief secretary also got in touch with Corps Commander Rawalpindi.
Shafqat Mahmood later confirmed that the chief minister and the governor of Punjab were a part of the meeting.
Upon being asked by a journalist if the chief minister attended the meeting, Fawad Chaudhry clarified: “Usman Buzdar left the meeting as soon as Prime Minister Imran Khan advised him to leave.”
"All families" stranded in Murree have been shifted to government rest houses and hotels, Buzdar said in a post on Twitter on Saturday evening.
“We are providing them all basic facilities including food, medicines and warm clothes,” he wrote.
Citing police records, Buzdar said that there were a total of 33,745 vehicles in Murree till last night out of which 33,373 vehicles have been evacuated.
The chief minister said that the expressway is "completely clear", traffic is moving, albeit a little slow, on the Old GT Road, and snow and trees are being removed from the track from Kaldana to Barian.
"The entire management of the Rawalpindi division is taking part in rescue operations," he added.
It bears mentioning that the provincial government declared Murree a calamity-hit area after more than 20 tourists died in their vehicles today amid heavy snowfall.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed confirmed the death toll, saying the government has sought help from Pakistan Army and other civil-armed forces to rescue the stranded tourists.
According to the local administration, rain and blizzards are forecast tonight in and around Murree, with thunderstorms at a speed of 50-90 kmph and heavy snowfall.
The administration has warned the citizens not to leave their homes in severe weather or turn to Murree as severe weather conditions are likely to continue till late at night.