Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah has said that the state is responsible for the deaths of 22 people in Murree last weekend. The Chief Justice lashed out at the government after it was revealed that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had not held a meeting in almost four years. He directly held the government responsible for failing to implement a disaster-response strategy.
During the hearing, it was disclosed that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had only held two meetings since 2010, when the Disaster Management Law went into effect. One meeting had been held on February 21, 2013 and the second held on March 28, 2018.
Speaking directly to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) at Thursday’s hearing, Justice Minallah said, “It is unfortunate; you have failed. It was your responsibility to convene the meeting. Given the management plan, you had to implement this law. If this law had been implemented, not a single citizen would have died.”
The hearing concerned a petition filed by a resident of Murree, Hammad Abbasi, who sought an investigation into the disastrous events in Murree and punitive action against those responsible. The petition alleged that tourists had not been notified of the hazardous weather conditions, nor were they informed at any point along the way.
However, the chief justice stated that there was no need for an inquiry into the case, as it was clear the NDMA had failed to implement the law or develop district emergency plans.
“The NDMA has not fulfilled its responsibility. It could not inform if a district-wise plan existed or not for the past 11 years,” Justice Minallah relayed at the hearing.
The court concluded by directing the prime minister to establish a commission to determine any further culpability in the tragedy.