Plight of the people in the disaster hit constituency of GB Governor

Muhammad Panah 

First off, my deep and heartfelt condolences for all the people we lost during the recent heavy rainfall, and the consequent avalanches, landslide and rockslide events in Gilgit-Baltistan, Kohistan and Chitral, and the other affected areas.

It is a fact that global climate changes is affecting the mountain communities in Pakistan. The changing weather patterns and increased numbers of natural disasters are strong indicators. The resultant avalanches, landslide, rockslide and erosion, GLOFs, etc. are straining lives in the valleys by destroying the meagre land resources, as well as forests and residential areas. The impact on infrastructure, and the resultant mobility restrictions are also causing deterioration of normal life. The loss of lives has been on the rise, mostly caused by low quality and unsafe constructions in hazard prone areas.

The incessant rainfall caused severe destruction in the Gojal valley of District Hunza, which home to four important international passes, and located at the mouth of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Despite the strategic significances of the territory and the emerging stories of suffering caused by the road blockades, almost 1300 households, in Shimshal, Chipursan and Misgar valley, remain disconnected from rest of the district for the last nine days. They have no direct access to health, or market or other facilities. The local government and administration is still unhelpful to provide basic health facilities and foods staffs in the catastrophic hit valleys.

In Shimshal valley 9 shepherds are still in vulnerable situation in the far-flung and high mountain pastures of Pamir, not getting ration and medicine from the main settlement in Shimshal. Their family members have had no communication with the stranded people, who are reportedly looking after more than 1800 Yaks owned by the community.

After blockage of Shimshal valley road, local government has sent a government health medical team through helicopter whom were in the medical camp in the remotest valley. The local community representatives are still close in coordination with local government administration to supply ration and medicine to the stuck shepherds because of no elected representation in the constituency. The inhabitants of the Shimshal valley people are still unaware about their livestock losses as well.

In this crucial situation, the governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, who won with huge mandate, is nowhere in sight. He is accused of neglecting the very people who elected him and paved way for him becoming the governor of Gilgit-Baltistan. The opposition parties who had made lofty promises of staying with the people through thick and thin have vanished in thin air, untraceable.

People of the Gojal Valley are expecting, and not getting, brisk support from the government and the administration. They do not have the resources to open the roads to Shimshal and Chipursan on their own. They do not have access to medical facilities.

It is high time for the government and the administration to allocate emergency funds for restoration of infrastructure and for compensating the losses faced by the communities in these remote valleys. More delay will mean more difficulties for the patients, pregnant women and the children who are already suffering due to severe cold.

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