The Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) has clarified that the country’s premier spy agency’s warning letter regarding a possible earthquake was a routine matter.

Sources, however, claimed that the ERRA Acting Deputy Chairman has taken notice of the leaked letter (with a reference to the spy agency) and sought a report from ERRA Rehabilitation Director General Brig (retd) Khattak. According to the sources, the senior official has also directed ERRA Media Adviser Shazia Haris to handle the issue in the media.

According to a letter of ERRA Rehabilitation Wing issued on November 1 regarding SOPs on occurrence of disaster/earthquake with a reference letter (4166/14/s-403, October 12) of ISI director general, “an information report has been received from Directorate General, Inter-Services Intelligence that there is reportedly, likelihood of large-scale earthquake, as being expected, in the Indian Ocean in the near future which may vigorously shake the Asian continental areas, including Pakistan. There is, therefore, a need to sensitise concerned departments to be on the vigil and take care of any natural disaster.”

The letter says, “Keeping the above in view, ERRA Acting Deputy Chairman has been pleased to direct that SOPs on the subject may be prepared immediately and put up to him on priority”.

The letter further says: “A team comprising Brig (retd) Ihsan Ullah Khan DG Rehab ERRA, Lt-Col (retd) Muhhamd Sadaat Janjua  DDG coordination ERRA and Lt-Col (retd) Akhtar Ahmed DRR expert will formulate the SOPs and will be put up to Acting Deputy Chairman on November 6, 2017. The SOPs will comprise duties/responsibilities of all wings/directorates/sections/cells in case of occurrence of any disaster/earthquake in the response of early recovery phases”.

Talking to The Nation the ERRA media director confirmed that the letter was original and issued by the competent authority.

He said that in ERRA, it was a routine matter and the authority always coordinates with all institutions and departments.

The Nation attempted to contact Shazia Haris on the phone and through text messages to get her version, however, she did not respond till the filing of this story.

According to BBC, Pakistan’s state institutions were forced to take precautionary measures after an Indian man’s prediction that a large earthquake will strike the Indian Ocean and cause a deadly tsunami before the end of 2017.

The prediction was based on the Indian’s purported psychic abilities and carries no scientific weight.

The man, Babu Kalayil, who claimed to have extrasensory perception (ESP) allegedly sent a letter predicting a devastating tsunami by the end of 2017 to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his letter, which went viral in September 2017, he claimed to have predicted that an earthquake will strike somewhere in the Indian Ocean, causing the tsunami and affecting seven Asian countries including India and Pakistan.

First and foremost, earthquake prediction — at least when limited by things that have a scientific basis — is one of the major as-yet-unrealised dreams of seismology. The best science can offer outside of probability estimates are warnings after an earthquake has occurred but prior to its effects reaching an area further away — something that provides advance notice on the order of seconds, but which is not, strictly speaking, a prediction.

Several Indian newspapers published news about Babu Kalayil and made fun of his prediction. But there are signs that Pakistani institutions are taking Babu’s prediction seriously.

Pakistan social media users on Thursday were stunned to see the ERRA letter sent to some staff members.

Talking to BBC, Pakistan Met Office chief Dr Ghulam Rasool said after the quake alert from the ISI several departments are making preparations to deal with any situation.

He said ISI’s warning was based on the letter written to the Indian prime minister carrying the earthquake-tsunami prediction.