The latest inventions in the field of Sciences and Technology have made it possible to reach Mars. The whole world has been converted into a global village. It is possible to observe an event happening across the globe in real-time. On the one hand, we have witnessed the ease and benefits of technological developments while on the other hand, we have also witnessed the negative effects on the earth as well. Whether these are earthquakes or floods, they are a natural phenomenon for thousands of years but in the last few decades, we have seen an increase in these calamities. The most developed countries of the world are powerless in front of these climatic changes. At the same time, a country is facing floods while another country in another continent is busy putting off the fires in its jungles. In another country is suffering at the hands of locusts. The bitter reality is that despite all technological and scientific development human beings are powerless in front of calamities. The latest equipment can give forecasts about floods or other calamities which may be used to shift the public to safe places but what will be the extent of the destruction this cannot be aforesaid. We cannot stop nature from causing destruction.
If economically strong countries are powerless in front of the calamities then developing countries like Pakistan cannot be safe from calamities. In calamities, the Pakistan army has been playing a pivotal role. Floods in rivers or streams in the rainy season are not unexpected. Due to the absence of structured framework and communication in Provincial governments and district machinery, whenever, calamity struck, the Pakistan army has to come forward to save the lives and belongings of the public. The first step of providing rescues services and secondly rehabilitation increased the importance of Pak army manifolds.
However, in 2005, the earthquake caused destruction in Azad Kashmir, Northern areas and Margalla Towers in Islamabad. After such destruction the establishment of a well trained and organized department was inevitable. 2005’s earthquake was a big calamity for Pakistan in which many villages of Azad Kashmir vanished from the map along with the persons living there. Roads either fell down or were unusable due to the landslide. Despite all the difficulties the soldiers and officers of the Pakistan army reached the affected areas within no time and started the rescue work which gave hope to the nation. On this tragic calamity, people belonging to different walks of life either themselves reached the areas to help the affectees or gave financial help; aid from all across the world generously arrived in Pakistan. After rescuing the people from the destruction of earthquake and rehabilitation work, govt felt the need for such a department that itself gets activated in case of any calamity and overlooks the process of rehabilitation.
This thinking results in the establishment of a transitional department under the supervision of Lt. General Farooq Ahmad Khan in 2006. Afterwards, on 8 October 2007, it was given the form of department National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Not only in Pakistan but in other countries as well NDMA played its role in calamities and showed a positive image of Pakistan. With the passage of time, the efficiency of NDMA improved. Whenever a calamity struck any country across the globe, experts and staff of NDMA reached those areas after getting approval or request from the affected country, with the hard work they tried to minimize the losses and provide rescue services. This goodwill of Pakistan was appreciated by UNO as well which was the befitting reply to Indian propaganda to defame Pakistan.
The importance of NDMA got clearer in the 2010 floods when rains caused destructive floods across the country. NDMA started rescue services with the help of Pakistan army soldiers and officers to rescue people in safe areas. Food and medical services were provided to the affected. NDMA played a vital role in rehabilitation as well. Similarly helping people of Thar in draught and actions to control locusts in Sindh and Punjab are also great achievements of NDMA.
In 2019, after the Coronavirus outbreak, NDMA played an important role in spreading awareness among the public and saving people from the harmful effects of the pandemic. The services of NDMA during the COVID pandemic has been appreciated by the WHO as well. Now under the control of General Akhtar Nawaz, this department is further polishing its expertise and skills. In order to minimize the loss of calamities, awareness campaigns are initiated for which seminars and talks are arranged in different cities of the country that how can we help others during calamities.
In Pakistan 8 October is celebrated in the commemoration of those whom we lost in the 2005 earthquake but it also reminds us how the nation stood firm and united in the tragic calamity with the government departments to help their countrymen affected by the earthquake. Due to such patriotism and unity Pakistan has become an example for the whole world. This was acknowledged by Kofi Annan in these words, “one should learn from Pakistanis how to remain united and motivated in case of calamities and natural disasters”.