The earthquake on Tuesday brought back horrible memories of previous instances in 2005 and 2015, with 70000 lives lost in the first and 400 in the second. The damage on this occasion is seemingly limited at this point, but the rescue operations are still ongoing and a final figure isn’t ready yet. The country needs to stand together at this time, and work towards ensuring all those affected by the earthquake are now safe, with the injured receiving treatment as soon as possible.

As in previous instances – particularly in 2005 – Azad Kashmir and Mirpur are the worst affected, which is the government must send all the relief efforts possible immediately. With differences in the standard of healthcare available in different parts of the country, those injured must be treated in the best possible way, which is why the government might consider sending as many qualified doctors to the area as possible, in case there is a shortage.

The figures for the damage caused, the death toll and those injured is still subject to change currently, which is why the government should keep extra resources in standby in case more are needed. With so many earthquakes centred around a similar epicentre, it is also time to chalk out a strategy to make structures in Azad Kashmir in particular and the country in general, earthquake proof. There is always a degree of damage to both lives and property that would be avoidable, if the country had more earthquake proof structures.

A significant portion of Pakistan’s development budget has already been cut, so it will be difficult to implement this strategy immediately, however, at the very last, a discussion on how to achieve this with our limited resources must be undertaken urgently. Natural disasters are not preventable, but the extent of damage they cause is very much controllable. Only through greater investment in infrastructure will the lives of citizens be made safer in the event of a disaster of this sort.