Pak’s spy agency predicts quake, govt bodies go into disaster management mode
Just how powerful is Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency? Powerful enough to predict a possible earthquake and have the warning taken so seriously that other government agencies start drawing up plans to cope with it.
An official letter, which asked government bodies to prepare for a “large scale earthquake” in the Indian Ocean region on the basis of an information report from the ISI, was leaked on Friday.
As the letter did the rounds on social media, Twitter and Facebook users in Pakistan mocked the spy agency’s ability to predict natural disasters.
But the letter was taken seriously by their authorities, with Ghulam Rasul, director general of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, telling BBC Urdu that “many government institutions, including his organisation, are making preparations for a possible earthquake and its impact in the Indian Ocean” after receiving the information from the ISI.
“This prediction has no scientific justification, but we are preparing to save ourselves from the effects (of the possible earthquake),” he added.
The letter, issued by the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) and dated November 1, stated: “An Information Report has been received from the Directorate General, Inter-Services Intelligence that there is, reportedly, likelihood, of large scale earthquake, as being expected, in Indian Ocean in near future which may vigorously shake the Asian continental areas, including Pakistan.”
The letter asked concerned departments “to be on vigil and take care of any natural disaster”.
The deputy chairman of ERRA, which was formed after the deadly 2005 earthquake in Kashmir and is largely manned by military personnel, also formed a three-member team of retired army officers to prepare standard operating procedures (SOPs) “on priority” to cope with an earthquake and for response and early recovery.
An official of ERRA confirmed the authenticity of the leaked letter to The Nation daily but sought to play it down as a “routine matter”. The newspaper also reported that ERRA’s deputy chairman had sought a report on the leak of the official letter.
Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, was among those who poked fun at the letter, saying in a tweet: “ISI predicts earthquake in Indian Ocean. Didn’t know it was #Pakistan’s Geological Survey & Early Earthquake Warning system too.”