LAHORE: Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar has come under fire for attending Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) meeting while tragedy unfolded in Murree, where at least 21 tourists froze to death.
According to details, Usman Buzdar was attending a meeting at the Chief Minister House presided over by Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood, who has been named PTI’s president for the Punjab chapter.
Governor Punjab Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar; Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry; Provincial Minister of Punjab for Forestry Sibtain Khan; Provincial Minister of Punjab for Housing, Urban Development, and Public Engineering Mian Mehmood ur Rasheed; and close confidante of Prime Minister Imran Khan Usman Dar also attended the meeting, besides other provincial lawmakers.
Several media outlets reported that the meeting focused on placating disgruntled party workers instead of discussing the Murree tragedy. The Punjab Advisory Council meeting also reportedly discussed the upcoming local bodies elections in province.
It was only after the meeting that Buzdar declared Murree a calamity-hit area. Federal Minister Shafqat Mahmood confirmed that the meeting took place and said it lasted almost two and a half hours.
Upon being asked by a journalist if the chief minister attended the meeting, Shafqat clarified: “Usman Buzdar left the meeting as soon as Prime Minister Imran Khan advised him to leave.”
Earlier in the day, SAPM Shahbaz Gill claimed that Buzdar had left for Murree and would be there by 3pm. However, there was no report of his arrival by 530pm.
It bears mentioning that the provincial government declared Murree a calamity-hit area after more than 20 tourists died in their vehicles today amid heavy snowfall.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed confirmed the death toll, saying the government has sought help from Pakistan Army and other civil-armed forces to rescue the stranded tourists.
According to the local administration, rain and blizzards are forecast tonight in and around Murree, with thunderstorms at a speed of 50-90 kmph and heavy snowfall.