Worked Round The Clock In Need of Hour
By Wing Commander Ali
In history of Pakistan, monsoons of 2010 brought the most devastating floods that resulted in loss of human lives, crops and national / personal assets. The havoc starting from Himalayas through Gilgit and Baltistan till Sindh, has been much greater comparing with any previous calamities. In such natural disasters, the country needed tremendous efforts from all orders of society, organizations and countrymen. As always, PAF rose to the occasion and came up to nation’s expectations in this hour of need by extending all out support and providing relentless assistance to the flood victims. PAF reacted promptly right from day one and took part in the relief efforts. Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, Chief of the Air Staff, PAF, gave directives to his team specifying the optimum utilization of all PAF assets including C-130 fleet and helicopters etc for the assistance.
Pakistan Air Force operated at two levels. One was in direct support of the affected people and the other was to feed the relief channels of Pakistan Army. Since the army is a much larger organization and has the machinery to reach the remotes areas therefore its efforts were also supplemented by the brave airmen who worked relentlessly round the clock. The PAF C-130 fleet and helicopters continued their flights in the length and breath of the entire country. These flights carried out rescue operations, evacuation and placement of flood victim to safe locations; and transportation of food and relief goods. The PAF personnel moved by the plight of the people decided to donate one day salary for the assistance of flood affectees.
Keeping up the tradition of extending assistance to Earth Quake victims in 2005, PAF started relief operations on war footings and vouchsafed timely relief to flood victims. In order to coordinate relief efforts along with other sister services, a Central Flood Relief Centre was established at AHQ, Islamabad. Additionally, Flood Relief Camps were also established at all PAF Bases, which operated round the clock.
Despite inclement weather conditions, PAF continued its relief efforts in different sectors. In Khyber PakhtonKhuwa, PAF C-130 aircraft and helicopters played a vital role. These aircraft evacuated flood victims and transported them to safe locations, in addition PAF transportation tons of relief goods go far flung northern areas of the country. These efforts also included establishment of a relief camp at PAF Academy, Risalpur, where 1500 flood victims from Mardan, Mohibanda, Charsada, Rashakai and Nowshera were sheltered, provided food and medical treatment. Besides this, PAF also provided relief assistance to 2500 people in collaboration with local administration at a relief camp, established at Government High School Risalpur Cantt.
The torrential rains and super flood also caused disaster in Kalam and Sawat valley. In these areas, PAF helicopters carried out numerous Rescue Operations and evacuated stranded people to safe locations. At Gilgit and Skardu, PAF C-130 aircraft rescued more then 1000 stranded people including 40 foreigners. Thirty boats were also transported to Risalpur from PAF Base, Faisal to supplement the relief effort in flood affected areas of Mardan, Nowshera, Charsada and Peshawar. Moreover, PAF helicopters were attached with NDMA to augment its relief operations. PAF helicopters were exclusively deployed at Khyber PakhtonKhuwa from PAF Base, Faisal to join in relief operations. Besides, provision of aerial support, on the special instructions of Air Staff, dry ration was also distributed at flood affected areas of Peshawar.
As the super flood reached Punjab, PAF progressively expanded its relief efforts to southern areas of Punjab as well. The most affected districts included Muzafargarh, DG Khan, Multan, Mianwali, Rajan pur and Rahimyar Khan. In addition to rescuing people, PAF helicopters distributed ready-to-eat food, dry ration and medicines, whereas C-130s remained engaged in transporting and delivering boats, tents, clothes and other relief goods for flood victims. From PAF Base Mianwali, the distribution of Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) continued on daily basis among flood victims of Mari Indus, Moch, Kukran wala, Isa Khel, Daud Khel and western areas of river Indus through trucks. Moreover, PAF medical teams along with ambulances provided medical care to flood affectees. PAF helicopters also delivered more than 1000 kgs of food in Athara Hazari area. Tons of relief goods were also transported in Multan and adjoining areas by PAF C-130 aircraft.
In Sindh province, Kashmore, Jacobabad and Sukkur were the most affected by floods. From PAF Base, Faisal (Karachi), dry food, clothes, tents, boats, mineral water, medicines, blankets etc were delivered at Sukkur. A 28 member medical team was also conveyed to Sukkur for extending Medicare in Sukkur and adjoining areas. The flood relief center established at PAF Museum, Karachi collected tons of relief items donated by Karachites. These items were also transported to flood affected areas through PAF C-130 aircraft.
During floods, PAF delivered relief goods, with an approximate load of 400,0000 lbs, in flood affected areas of the country. PAF helicopters / C-130 aircraft evacuated more than 10,000 stranded people from different flood affected areas including Gilgit, Swat, Skardu, Kalam, Bahrain, Kanjh, Matta, Mingora, Khuwaza Khela, Risalpur, Charsada, Kalabagh, Mianwali, Isa Khel, Moch, Athara Hazari, Multan, Rafiqui, Rajanpur, DG Khan, Rahimyar Khan, Jacobabad, Sukkur, Quetta and Hyderabad. The relief goods consisted of 162,876 Meal Ready-to-eat (MREs), 158,005 mineral water bottles, 7191 tents, 230 Pak Army, 22 Pak Navy and 02 PAF boats, 28 electric generators and water filtration plants. PAF established an air bridge at Sibi airfield for the transportation of relief goods to the affected people of the area. PAF had also established relief camps at Sukkur,Jacobabad,Pir Patho and Risalpur where more than 12000 people were provided with food and medical care. Two relief camps were also set up in collaboration with Pak Army, one at Sibi Expo center with 4700 people and one at Bakhtiar road with 500 people.
PAF had chalked out three phased strategy for helping flood affectees. In Phase-I, PAF rescued stranded flood affectees and provided them with relief goods; subsequently, in phase II it relocated the affectees to flood relief camps established by PAF at Sukkur, Bakhtiarabad, Mianwali, Pir Pathu, Jacobabad and PAF Academy Risalpur. In the ongoing third phase, PAF has launched a rehabilitation plan for the flood affectees in all the provinces under Regional Air Commands. PAF rehabilitation plan aims at providing free of cost construction of houses for flood affectees in flood hit areas of Pakistan which faced maximum devastation during the recent floods; these include areas in and around Mianwali, Daood Khel, Jacobabad, Dera Allahyar, Charsadda and Risalpur.
PAF has commenced construction of over six hundred houses and the project would be completed within four months. The sites for the construction of the houses had been selected in consultation with the local civil administration and due attention had been paid for verification of ownership and damage assessment prior to undertaking the construction process. The rehabilitation plan is being centrally controlled at Air Headquarters, Islamabad under the supervision of Regional Air Commands which are monitoring the construction process and ensuring timely handing over of the houses to the flood affectees. The first batch of the houses is almost ready to be handed over in the near future.