Home Latest News P.M. Sharif, Army Chief Review Flood Relief Operations

P.M. Sharif, Army Chief Review Flood Relief Operations

Casualties in flood-stricken areas nationwide continue to mount, as locals complain of local administration’s inability to provide aid

by Staff Report

Screengrab of a video showing the flood situation in Taunsa Shareef, Punjab

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on Sunday reviewed ongoing rescue and relief operations being conducted by the Pakistan Army, with the premier stressing the acceleration of efforts to ensure relief for the flood-stricken population.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Sharif and Bajwa discussed the prevailing situation of flood affected areas and the relief and rehabilitation operations undertaken thus far, especially in Sindh. It said the Army chief had apprised the prime minister of the Army’s full cooperation in the process, with the premier appreciating the Army’s cooperation and passion.

Gen. Bajwa also informed Sharif that he had issued special direction to the commander southern command for relief activities in Balochistan.

The prime minister, meanwhile, noted that helicopters were proving essential to provide aid following the severing of inundated road linkages between Sindh and Balochistan and directed for provision of additional helicopters for relief operations. He also directed relevant authorities of the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) to immediately distribute support funds among the flood affectees of Sindh.

In a separate conversation with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt. Gen. Akhtar Nawaz, the prime minister was updated on the latest rainfall and flood situation in Sindh, as well as the cooperation extended during the ongoing rescue operations in Balochistan and Sindh.

Flooding situation

Flash floods in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday resulted in at least five more deaths and a dozen injuries. The heavy rainfall has also trigged landslides, blocking major arteries, and damaged houses in several villages of Lower Chitral. There are also reports of extensive damage to infrastructure in Upper Chitral, with district Khuz Payeen now experiencing its third flood of the year and the destruction of many houses and perishing of livestock.

Local residents, in interactions with media, have complained of the district administration’s inability to come to their aid, with the affected populations of Upper Chitral especially pointing out that there was virtually no work being done by relief agencies such as the NDMA and the provincial disaster management authority.

In Balochistan, nine more deaths were reported due to various rain-related incidents, as authorities reported that several major highways connecting the province to the rest of the country remained cut off. The provincial government also issued a notification ordering the closure of all education institutions for a week following an advisory over further downpours this week.

The Sindh government, meanwhile, has declared 23 districts of the province—Hyderabad, Thatta, Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan, Dadu, Sujawal, Tando Allahyar, Jamshoro, Matiari, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, Shaheed Benazirabad, Noshero Feroz, Sanghar, Sukkur, Khairpur, Ghotki, Larkana, Kashmore, Shikarpur, Kamber Shahdadkot, Jacobabad, Malir—as “calamity-hit” due to torrential downpours, with reports of heavy losses over the past 48 hours.

“Army rescue teams have started dewatering operation and ration distribution in affected areas of district Dadu, Thatta, Badin and Jamshoro,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

In Punjab, the Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur districts have continued to report massive floods, with thousands of residents being directed to evacuate their homes to avoid potential loss of life. The worst his areas are towns of Taunsa Shareef, Nari, Mangrotha, Sokar, Retra, Tibbi Qaisrani, Litra, Vehowa, Jallo Wali, Dagar Wali, Mithay Wali, and Lakhani, with reports of dozens of people drowned and thousands of livestock lost.

The flooding has left several villages completely inundated, breaking down communication and transportation networks and destroying thousands of acres of crops, heralding a potential food shortage in the months to come. Local residents have complained of little action from district administration, saying the only aid available is from the few non-governmental organizations that are operating in the region. Local politicians of the area—mostly belonging to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)—appear to have washed their hands off the region, with little in the way of relief.

Jamat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq on Sunday announced he would visit the flood-hit areas of Taunsa Shareef to review relief activities of the Al-Khidmat Foundation and distribute ration bags and medicines among flood victims.

More rains forecast

The Met Office on Sunday warned of more rains in eastern Balochistan, south Punjab and Sindh over the next 24 to 36 hours. According to an advisory, moderate flash floods have been predicted in the rivers and nullahs of eastern Balochistan during the next 24 hours, as well as “medium to high-level flooding” in Kabul River at Nowshera and Indus River.

The National Highway Authority has also issued an advisory for the public to avoid any travel on major highways of Balochistan, noting the Karachi-Quetta National Highway (N-25) was completely closed for traffic as the Linda Bridge at Lasbela had been washed away by flash floods. Similarly, the Ratodero-Gwadar Motorway (M-8) has been closed at Wangu Hills in Khuzdar, and traffic has been suspended on the Dera Ismail Khan-Quetta National Highway (N-50) from Zhob-Dhanasar and on Qilla Saifullah-Multan National Highway (N-70) at Fort Munro.

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