Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday said millions of tourists flocked to Murree in less than 48 hours despite the issuance of a warning by the local administration in which it asked travellers “not to visit the hill station”.
He said this while addressing a press conference in Lahore in the wke of the tourist tragedy in Murree where at least 21 people froze to death while they were stuck in their vehicles amid heavy snowfall.
Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Usman Dar were accompanying Fawad Chaudhry in the press conference.
“The administration took all possible measures it could but the situation was out of their hands,” he said. "If 5,000 people flocked to your house uninvited, what would you do.”
He added: “We should learn from such kind of tragedies."
The minister said the government shared the grief of the bereaved whose loved ones passed away in the tragedy. However, the criticism of the opposition on the tragedy was "unfortunate".
He referred to the criticism of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif who lashed out at the administrative skills of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government and urged the prime minister to "at least suspend ministers concerned and their subordinates".
In response to Shehbaz's criticism, Fawad said Murree is the ancestral home of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and he should be present on the occasion.
When asked about the absence of members of the National Assembly Sadaqat Ali Abbasi, who was elected from NA-57 (Rawalpindi I) constituency in 2018 elections, on the tragedy site, Mahmood said, “he is on the site”.
Talking about rescue activities, Fawad said five platoons of Pak Army were working on site, resulting in clearance of all routes from Nathia Gali towards Khyber-Pakhtunkwa.
He added that the Murree Expressway has been cleared for traffic and the government was on high alert but currently, all northern areas of the country were not appropriate to visit due to harsh weather conditions.
Talking about his tweet in which Fawad mentioned a boom in tourism and linking it to the “prosperity” of common men, the federal minister said: “The economic condition in Pakistan has improved and tourism is a positive sign in the country. But we should learn from such kinds of tragedies.”
When asked about the Tiger Force of the PTI-led government, which helped in enforcing Covid-19 SOPs, Dar said the members were working at some locations leading to Murree. He adedd that in case of any unforeseen situation, the Tiger Force would be available to tackle it.