An earthquake occurred on Tuesday afternoon with an epicentre some 82 km below the surface in Iranian Balochistan. While there has been no loss of life in Iran, at least 27 injuries were reported. However, in Pakistan’s Balochistan, dozens of villages on the Mashkhail area of Washuk district were damaged, while 24 people were killed by building collapses, which was measured at 7.8 on the Richter scale. It is noteworthy that the epicenter was in Iran, but the deaths occurred in Pakistan. It was the worst earthquake in Pakistan since the one that struck Azad Kashmir in 2005, and is another indication that the complex of mountains, consisting of the Himalayan Range and the mountain ranges of what amount to its foothills, are now seismically active. Recent trends have shown destructively violent earthquakes to be occurring at increasingly frequently. If human habitation is to continue in the region, it will have to be in accordance with this new reality, and people will have to both accept and implement the new restrictions.

And restrictions there will have to be, mainly in terms of building regulations. As the Azad Kashmir earthquake showed, unrestricted and unrestrained building cannot be permitted, for residential or any other purpose. Not only have certain areas to be excluded, but building plans must be approved, seeing among other things whether the proposed building can withstand the rigours of an earthquake. It is also an inadvertent test of the utility of the caretaker government, with the Balochistan caretaker Chief Minister and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority coming into action. The authority was one of the provincial bodies set up after the Azad Kashmir earthquake, and which so far had been devoting itself to flood relief. Though this particular disaster was not at all a needed reminder, this was the kind of disaster that needed management. It should not be forgotten that Quetta, not all that far from the earthquake-hit area, has been the site, in 1930, of one of the worst earthquakes in history.

If the government does not ensure proper building rules being implemented countrywide, that would only be waiting for a future tragedy to occur.