In a statement apparently intended to convey remorse, Prime Minister Imran Khan caused an outcry on Twitter for linking the 19 deaths in the snowstorm in Murree with the “rush of people proceeding [to Murree] without checking weather conditions.”
“Shocked and upset at tragic deaths of tourists on road to Murree,” the premier wrote, “Unprecedented snowfall and rush of people proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district administration unprepared.”
Many were astounded that the prime minister would place the responsibility of ensuring road safety on the tourists, rather than the government.
Critiquing the government’s response, one post read, “If all the responsibility belongs to the people then what is the role of the government? Is the country running on auto pilot?”
Just days before the tragedy, Information Minister Fawad Chaudry seemingly celebrated the government’s achievement of bringing tourism to Murree.
“Nearly one lakh vehicles have entered Murree. Rents of hotels and residences have gone up many times. This increase in tourism shows increase in prosperity and income of common man. One hundred big companies have made a profit of Rs. 929 billion this year. All major media groups account for 33 to 40 percent of profits,” the minister wrote on 5 January.
Many commenters opined that the government would need to do more to successfully attract tourism to Pakistan and keep tourists out of harm’s way.