Centre for Policy Studies, COMSATS held a roundtable “Lessons Learned from Nepal Earthquake” at Business Incubation Centre, COMSATS on June 1, 2015. In welcome remarks Ambassador Fauzia Nasreen, Head CPS welcomed the Chief Guest Dr. Ambassador Bhishnu Hari from Nepal, currently Director South Asian Policy Analysis Network (SAPANA). In his Guest Lecture, Dr. Bhishnu praised Pakistan’s rich culture and underlined both countries’ vulnerability to earthquakes as they lay in the same seismic zone. He said that Nepal faced a major earthquake in 1934 but this one was more severe affecting nearly 49 out of 75 districts,one third of Nepal population, causing deaths of 9,000 plus, and destroying 50,000 homes.
Dr. Qasim Jan, adviser COMSTECH gave a history of three major earthquakes in Pakistan in the last 15 years and said that earthquakes are unpredictable and could be imminent. Major General Asghar Nawaz, Chairman, NDMA mentioned about Pakistan’s prompt provision of medical aid to Nepal was much appreciated. He mentioned that saturation of Nepal airport, no stocks available in warehouses, lack of helicopters, lack of awareness about earthquakes, and building codes, density of urban population and, in rural areas, lack of infrastructure -- all exacerbated the calamity. He underlined the importance of civil military co-operation, national disaster plan, need assessment and importance of building codes. All the same, he praised the resilience of Nepali nation resilience to bear this great trauma.
Ms. Shazia Harris said that human security and national security were indivisible. Pakistan could offer help and there is need to keep communication with people. Media should give directions to people on place, food and medicines. Pakistan could share housing pattern and models from its own previous disasters. Nepal needs to have a seismic housing plan. Assessment and needs should be well planned and proposal writing should be learnt for getting aid from international organizations. Other speakers mentioned that Pakistan is the largest tent exporter and could help Nepal. SOPs need to be developed for all kinds of disasters, industrial, floods or fire. Other speakers talked of water tables diminishing resulting in water shortage. Others highlighted the issue of corruption, lack of rules and regulations and need for regional collaboration as SAARC was a comatose organization. Finally, Dr. Bhishnu thanked Pakistan for its timely help and hoped that the lessons learned by Pakistan could be utilized by Nepal too. HSF representative Mr. Omer Ali thanked the participants for a well attended discourse and hoped that all parties will learn lessons to mitigate any future disasters by firming up rules, systems and SOPs and mitigate human suffering.