Tayyab Gondal, the cousin of Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Naveed Iqbal who died with his family in Murree over the weekend, has recounted how the government chain of command failed to save the snowbound tourists from their untimely deaths.
Because of their respective professions, Gondal and Naveed were in a unique position to alert the relevant authorities of the tragedy unfolding on the Murree Hills. Between them, Naveed and Tayyab had the phone numbers of some of the most influential government officials in Islamabad.
Gondal reports he was able to contact Prime Minister Imran Khan, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Rawalpindi City Police Officer (CPO) Sajid Kiyani, and Assistant Commissioner Murree, among others that night. The messages were verified by SAMAA TV.
An independent journalist, Gondal spoke to Naveed over the phone just hours before he and his family, including six children under the age of 15, were found dead, their car lodged in the snowy banks of the mountainside.
Gondal reported that his cousin had informed him of snow clearing machines lying inactive along the road. Gondal was requesting that government officials begin an attempt to save the stranded tourists.
By four in the morning, Gondal says he was able to speak to the Rawalpindi CPO, who assured him that rescue efforts were on the way.
“The CPO took action and I was contacted by the assistant commissioner and SSP traffic,” he said. “This is why I assured Naveed that the help is on the way at 4am in the morning. After being assured Naveed fell asleep and didn’t wake up.”
However, Gondal did not know that the efforts would come too late.
Gondal lamented the government’s delayed action, saying, “If I knew that the situation go go this bad, believe me, I would have carried the kids on my should. I would have walked [to the vehicle]. I should have never believed in this government.”