Speakers at a seminar held on Friday at Sindh University called for including disaster management courses in syllabi being taught at colleges and varsities so that the students could handle the natural calamities taking place from time to time in Pakistan.

Addressing the seminar ‘Earthquake in Pakistan: Causes, Consequences and Way Forward’ which was organised by Sindh University’s Pakistan Study Centre.

Director Pakistan Study Centre Professor Dr. Shuja Ahmed Mahesar said that Pakistan had a history of devastating natural disasters by the fact that many people were killed and affected in the period from 1993 to 2002.  Since 2002, he said more than four earthquakes with the magnitude of 6 had struck Northern Pakistan and Balochistan regions of the country.

“More than 85,000 people lost their lives in the October 2005 Kashmir earthquake only”, he recalled and urged the people to re-visit and develop sustainable plans in order to better cope with the situation and save precious human lives, ecological and social dynamics of the homeland. “We all should stand together and work as a team to deal with disasters”, he said.

On the accasion, SU’s Director Centre for Pure and Applied Geology Dr. Rafique Ahmed Lashari said that Pakistan had successfully developed sound arrangements in terms of both institutional developments as well as in coordination between the various stakeholders for controlling river flood related hazards and disasters.

He appreciated the PDMA, NDAM and ERRA response to the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 and called an adequate witness to reach out to the most vulnerable population after the earthquake. He further told to the audiences that there was an undocumented but well-drilled preparedness plan for response, relief, and recovery involving dedicated agencies and departments at the federal, provincial, and local government levels.

“The same is, however, not true for the rest of the disasters arising out of natural hazards such as flash floods, earthquakes, and landslides”, he said and added that in essence, Pakistan’s entire focus on disaster preparedness relied on mobilization of the army corps or supply of relief items (tents, blankets, medicine, and food) through district relief offices.

He concluded that Pakistan was located in the fault zone, hence the country should use it as an opportunity to review its disaster management policy and develop a contingency plan to avoid any mega loss of human as well as infrastructure.

Dr. Abdul Razaque Channa remarked that natural disasters had a severe impact on human life throughout the history because they always happened unexpectedly and rapidly. “Since the disasters are happening quite frequently in Pakistan, the higher education institutes as well our colleges and schools should teach this course so as to help students learn & respond timely and in professional way.

He said that it was need of the hour to design various courses and include them in the syllabi being taught at college and university level in all the provinces of Pakistan.

Author

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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