Altaf Hamid Rao;
MIRPUR,(Parliament Times) : MIRPUR (AJK): Oct. 8: The 15th anniversary of the devastating earthquake, 15 years ago in 2005 was commemorated across Azad Jammu & Kashmir on Thursday.
The anniversary was observed as the National Day for Raising Awareness about safety from natural calamities besides as ‘day of firmness and determination for reconstruction in memory of earthquake martyrs’ coupled with special prayers for the rest of the departed souls of the quake victims in eternal peace and to express complete solidarity and sympathies with the survivors of the history’s most worst natural catastrophe.
The 7.6 magnitude earthquake jolted Azad Kashmir and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 8:52 am on the morning of October 8, 2005. Muzaffarabad, the regional capital, was ground-zero in the catastrophic temblor. The city and the entire region to Balakot was left virtually unrecognizable when the earth stopped shaking leaving over 82,000 people dead and thousands injured. The devastating earthquake of October 8, 2005, had jolted Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) turning major part of the two adjoining regions into rubble.
This year Mirpur city of AJK observed the anniversary when it met the same fate in form of Sept. 24, last year devastating quake of moderate magnitude measuring 5.8 at Richter scale that left at least 50 people dead and over 800 injured besides huge damaging of the buildings across Mirpur city and adjoining areas of Jatlaan leaving hundreds of thousands of the people shelter less badly affecting the daily life. APP Correspondent Altaf Hamid Rao reports from Mirpur that in Azad Jammu & Kashmir, the day dawned with special prayers for the martyrs of the earthquake. Prayers were also made for the liberation of the locked down bleeding vale of occupied Jammu and Kashmir from Indian subjugation. Fateh Khawani and Quran Khawni were offered for thousands of victims of the calamity who lost their lives in the quake-hit Muzaffarabad and other parts of Azad Jammu Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In Mirpur division, special functions were held to mark the day as the National Disaster Awareness Day with new pledge.
A walk of the people from all walks of the civil society in Mirpur from Quaid e Azam International Cricket Stadium was the hall mark of the day, The walk started from Mirpur Cricket stadium and ended at the same venue after passing through main Muhammad Shaheed Chowk and Quid-e-Azam Chowk. The walk was led by veteran Kashmiri leader, Chairman Jammu & Kashmir Human Rights and Motivational Speaker Humayaoon Zaman Mirza, Deputy Commissioner Mirpur Raja Tahir Mumtaz, ex Chairman MDA Ch. Muhammad Hanif, Chairman KORT Choudhry Akhter, Station Director AK Radio Mirpur Muhammad Shakeel, senior Kashmiri journalists Altaf Hamid Rao and Raja Soharab Khan, renowned social worker and journalist from Neelam valley Khawaja Shahid Iqbal, Kashmir Press club President Sajaad Jaraal, Syed Sajaad Bukhari, Divisional Director Information Javed Malik and others.
Special Prayer was offered on this occasion for the upholding of the status of the martyrs of earthquake. Sirens were blown at 8.52 a.m and two minutes silence observed in the memory of the victims of the catastrophe. Orphan children and students of different schools and colleges participated. In AJK metropolis, the AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan laid floral wreath at the memorial of the martyrs in the capital city. The ministers and large number of local people attended the ceremony. One minute silence was observed at 08:52 this morning. Azad Jammu and Kashmir flag remained at half-mast on all public buildings of the state to mark the anniversary.
Major ceremony to mark the day was held at AJK University ground in the capital city of Muzaffarabad, with the sign of deep rooted love and affection by the government and the people of Pakistan as well as the national and international NGO’s and brotherly foreign countries who contributed their exceptional share for the rebuilding and rehabilitation of the quake hit zone of AJK. Participants laid the floral wreaths at the memorial monument of the martyrs of the deadly earthquake on this occasion paying rich tributes to the departed souls and other victims of the history’s worst catastrophe. Despite passage of over 15 years, the reconstruction and rehabilitation process in various earthquake hit areas has not been completed so far due to the reported paucity of required funds or the reasons best known to AJK government. At the same time, most of the mega Development Projects of public welfare have been completed in the AJK capital with the financial assistance of the foreign donor countries including China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, America, Canada, United Kingdom and others in the wake of the broad based phased plans to rehabilitate the AJK metropolis on latest grounds comprising modern civic and other infrastructural facilities.
Similar special ceremonies including walks for awareness, seminars and symposiums were also held in various parts of AJK including Mirpur, Kotli and Bhimber districts in the memory of the martyrs of the devastating quake which left over 80 thousand people dead and lakhs of others injured in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Azad Jammu & Kashmir. The ceremonies were attended by the people representing all walks of life including social and political workers, lawyers, journalists and members of the business fraternity to pay glorious tributes to the victims of history’s worst catastrophe this day 15 years ago in 2005. It may also be added that the AJK government had identified about 8 thousand projects for the reconstruction work in the earthquake-hit areas in AJK, with a total investment of Rs. 210 billion. After 15 years down the line still a big portion of the projects in the earthquake hit zone are still lying incomplete due to the reasons best known to the AJK State administration.