The northern regions of Pakistan are subject to extreme weather conditions during winter.
For Pakistan Post, the national postal service provider, operating in these areas during the cold months presents great challenges, but ones that must be overcome to keep mail flowing.
Muhammad Fiaz Gul, manager of the Lahore Office of Exchange, project manager of same-day delivery and EMS, at Pakistan Post, says, “Postal workers have to perform their roles during extreme weather conditions in the winter. Temperatures can fall to -18°C in northern districts such as Astore, Ghanche and Skardu. There is also heavy snowfall and severe cold winds. Winter season starts by mid-October in the top northern areas, reaches its peak in December, and then gradually comes to its end in April.”
According to Fiaz Gul, some of the country’s northern areas are cut-off for up to six months due to avalanches and heavy snowfall. “But mail does not stop,” he adds. “The Pakistan Army clears the roads for its own movement and for the public, which means our vehicles can get through. And when public transport does have to stop due to avalanches, mail is delivered through the army vehicles according to their movement schedules.
“Extreme weather conditions can reduce business, as the number of walk-in customers decreases, particularly during December and January,” Fiaz Gul continues. “But delivery always continues.”
Some of the most dangerous areas Pakistan Post employees have to encounter when delivering mail are in the highly-mountainous area of Gilgit-Baltistan. Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the world’s 14 highest mountains. The Khunjerab mountain pass, which is a 4,693-meter mountain pass in the Karakoram Mountains in Gilgit-Baltistan, is used by Pakistan Post, for example, to transport mail to China. The pass is subject to heavy snow, avalanches and temperatures as low as -30°C.
“People trust and expect Pakistan Post to deliver their valuables even during cold weather,” explains Fiaz Gul. “All staff are provided with extra warm clothes and the appropriate vehicles for their duties. Postal workers also get special allowances, such as a hard area allowance, in addition to their salary.”
One Pakistan Post employee who goes above and beyond to deliver during extreme weather conditions is Kalab Abbas, who is a runner in the Astore District of Gilgit-Baltistan. “He walks almost 10km on daily basis, even during extreme weather, to deliver mail to post office branches,” says Fiaz Gul.
“Pakistan Post, under dynamic and visionary leadership, and top management, aims to perform its best in extreme weather conditions, both in the mountains and in the country’s deserts. To ensure we carry out our role as the national/state courier service provider, we must continue to deliver mail, and other items such as admission and examination slips, university books, employment call letters, and other delivery services, to all areas of Pakistan,” he concludes.