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High alert in KP as tension with India escalates

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PESHAWAR: Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has declared “high alert” in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and convened special meeting of the cabinet on Thursday in the backdrop of volatile situation along the eastern border.

Information Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai told Dawn on Wednesday that heads of Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Rescue 1122, Civil Defence and other departments would also attend the meeting.

“All departments concerned have been put on high alert across the province to cope with any type of emergency,” he said.

Bacha Khan International Airport was closed down for commercial flights after Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued NOTAM early morning. Aircrafts of foreign and domestic airlines were stranded at the airport following closure of the airspace.

Special meeting of cabinet convened; leaves of health staff cancelled

An official said that 10 international and two domestic flights were cancelled from the city’s airport. A UAE-based airline informed its passengers that it had suspended flight from Peshawar to Dubai till Friday next.

Separately, hospitals have been put on high alert and leaves of the staff have been cancelled to cope with any medical crisis. The hospitals have been directed to reserve stock of medicines after orders by the government in the wake prevalent security situation.

The directives have been communicated to the health facilities in the province and its newly-merged tribal districts in view of the prevalent tension with India.

The chief minister also issued directives to police, health and disaster management authority to stay alert to deal with any untoward situation. He asked all the departments to be ready to perform their respective duty in case of any emergency, according to a statement.

He said that there should be complete preparedness at all levels. He also appreciated armed forces’ befitting response to the Indian aggression and asked the international community to take notice of the Indian’s intrusion.

The health department on Wednesday issued directives to all the hospitals to ensure presence of their staff at the place of duty owing to the prevalent security situation in the country and no one should be allowed to take any kind of leave till further orders.

The directives issued by the health department said that availability of all the necessary emergency medicines must be ensured in all hospitals and ambulances should be kept functional. The hospital directors of the medical teaching institutions, medical superintendents of the district headquarters hospitals, category A and B health facilities have been asked to treat the directive as the “most urgent”.

On February 22, health department had asked the 200-bed hospitals to reserve 25 per cent of the beds for the “national cause” due to which 89 public and eight private hospitals communicated to the health department about compliance of the directives.

The Rescue 1122 has also been put on high alert and its staff has been asked to remain ready to cope with any emergency situation. Leaves of the workers have been cancelled.

“We have reserved 450 beds for the emergency and have acquired all routine and essential drugs in huge quantity to meet any situation,” Dr Khalid Masud, the director of the 1800-bed Lady Reading Hospital, told Dawn.

He said that they had been receiving victims of suicide attacks and bomb blasts since 2005 and providing emergency and trauma care to the victims was a routine matter for them.

“We have reserved stock of blood and have cancelled vacation of the staff to be able to provide services to the people in case of any emergency,” he said.

Dr Khalid said that the 170-bed trauma hall was run by trained staff with vast experience of treating victims of terrorism.

“We are not panicked as it is our duty to carry out life-saving procedures. In the past, we in close liaison with the law enforcement agencies have tackled mass emergencies,” added.

Dr Khalid said that they could spare more beds and human resources to meet the requirements. “We can put on hold cold admission and normal cases to be able to live up to the task of catering to the war victims,” he added.