PM’s Gil Git-B Baltalakha Affected Pakistan’s Transportation Safety
PM Imran Khan’s Gilgit-Baltistan tour has been postponed due to unsuitable weather conditions. The famous hill town of Gilgit, situated in the foothills of the Great Himalayas, was hit by severe snowfall on Sunday, the worst ever snowfall in the region. Snow fell so heavily that the airport and railway stations in the state were closed, forcing the head of government to call off the trip.
PM Khan had planned to visit Gilgit during the week of August, but the snowfall forced him to cancel his trip. He had also made an unscheduled stopover in Baltalakha, his home town of Gulbarga, on the same day as the snowfall. The snowfall has caused unprecedented transportation problems in the state, resulting in a long and expensive journey for the PM. An emergency meeting was held on the same day as the snowfall, at PM House in Islamabad, attended by the chief executive and other top officials. It was decided that immediate steps must be taken to improve the weather conditions in Gilgit and also to increase the travel movement in and out of the country.
PM Khan and his ministers were stuck in a hotel in Gilgit after the third day of the snowfall. No trains or buses were running to take them to their official residence, and all commercial flights were grounded. In addition, all flights to Pakistan from Gilgit were cancelled. PM’s wife, Benazir Bhutto, was there with her mother and daughter and they decided not to move from the hotel since they had not been given permission from the hotel authorities to go home. The crowd at the hotel, waiting for the dignitaries, grew to large and the atmosphere was tense. Finally, the crowd became so big that the police separated them and cleared the way for the dignitaries to enter.
The snowfall had been severe enough; Giljit-B Baltalakha was much worse. Over two feet of snow had fallen on the highway and the snowfall was affecting the supply of food and fuel in the country. PM and his ministers had to postpone their trip to Islamabad. Even the airport in Gilgit was closed for three days. The airlines, whose flights were scheduled to land at Gilgit, announced that they would not be operating any flights to Pakistan during the winter months of December and January.
Even Giljit-B Baltalakha was difficult; the snowfall had turned the airport runway into a giant ice field. The airlines eventually resumed operating flights but the number of flights were reduced to just ten. The snowfall had forced the authorities to close all public schools in Giljit-B Baltalakha and the PM’s house, located in the same area, was left untouched. The government ordered all non-essential public services to be shut down.
All this trouble was inconvenient for Giljit-B Baltalakha travelers. The airport was temporarily closed on December 7th. The reason given was the deteriorating state of the snowfall at the airport. Some flights to Gilgit did finally resume after the third day, but the delays were severe. As airlines struggle to manage their aircraft terminals, travelers are advised to avoid traveling during the snowfall.