Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Alpine Club of Pakistan Assures Revised Security Measures for the Visiting Mountaineers, Trekkers and Adventure Seekers

Government of Pakistan is very conscious of the Nanga Parbat incident and has revised and enhanced security measures for the international mountaineers, trekkers, adventure seekers and nature lovers visiting Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa ensuring their safety and security. This was stated by Manzoor Hussain, President Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) at the Annual General Assembly of the 67 member countries strong International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation - The Union of the International Alpine Associations, held at Pontresina, Alps, Switzerland on 5th October 2013 which was hosted by Swiss Alpine Club to celebrate 150 years of its existence.Earlier the General Assembly started its proceedings with observance of one minute silence for the slain mountaineers of the Nanga Parbat incident. President UIAA especially asked the ACP delegation comprise Col.Manzoor Hussain and Karrar Haidri to make a statement on the Nanga Parbat incident. Presenting Pakistan's case emphatically President ACP stated that the local population of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, in general, and the local mountain communities, in particular, are very peace loving, and friendly towards guests and foreigners as part of their culture, traditions as well as for their economic interests. No untoward incident against the visiting foreign mountaineers, trekkers or tourists ever occurred in these areas in the past.

He informed details of the gory incident and mentioned that 15 terrorists managed to reach the 4,200 m high Base Camp as it is easily accessible from Karakoram Highway after two days trek, and killed 10 foreigner mountaineers and one local Pakistani staff.
He mentioned that Army helicopters arrived Dimer Base Camp immediately after first light and shifted bodies to Gilgit. Later the remainder surviving mountaineers from Nanga Parbat Base camp were evacuated to Islamabad by special aircraft for their safety and security. An extensive aerial and ground search was mounted by the government to apprehend the culprits,which could not succeed due to forests and terrain difficulties. He informed the General Assembly that whole of Pakistani nation was shocked by this heinous crime of the terrorists and Government of Pakistan took a very serious note of the incident. On behalf of Government of Pakistan and ACP, he once again expressed deepest regrets and offered condolences to the bereaved families and the federations.President ACP enumerated various actions taken and measures adopted by Government of Pakistan and ACP after the incident including supporting the evacuated mountaineers, holding of condolence meeting and condoling with the bereaved families. Government of Pakistan dispatched remains of the slain mountaineers and their belongings to their homeland by special Air Force planes. Security was also beefed up for the mountaineers and trekkers arriving Pakistan after the incident. He informed the gathering that mastermind of the incident and several culprits who took part have since been apprehended by the Government of Gilgit Baltistan. More arrests are on card and the culprits will be tried in the court soon.
They informed that Government of Pakistan and the provincial governments,
with inputs from ACP have revised their security plans and have decided to set up Karakoram Highway Police Force. Additional police check posts are also being set up enroute for the safety of the visitors travelling on KKH. All the personnel involved in mountain tourism are being registered by federal and local provincial governments. Police check posts are being set up on treks leading to the mountain valleys and the base camps of the frequented mountain areas. Permanent police check posts are also being established near Diamer and Rupal base camps of Nanga Parbat. He assured that all security measures, both explicit and implicit are being made by Government of Pakistan in this regard.
Explaining Pakistan's immense mountain wealth to the General Assembly, President ACP emphasised that Pakistan is its custodian whereas it is meant for the international adventure seekers to benefit from it in all its forms and manifestations.
President ACP thanked Asian federations of the Union of Asian Alpine Associations
(UAAA) for expressing their solidarity with Pakistan by attending the UAAA General
Assembly held recently at Islamabad on 30th September 2013. He also thanked President UIAA for visiting Islamabad to participate in the UAAA General Assembly on ACP invitation. He mentioned that aim of the terrorists was to deter and discourage the
mountaineers from their passion of climbing in Pakistan, at the same time harming the local mountain communities. He emphasised that these negative objectives can only be thwarted by increased visitation to the Pakistan's mountain areas by mountaineers, trekkers and adventure seekers from all over the world. He urged the UIAA to support Pakistan in the matter, especially during 2014 when Pakistan shall be celebrating 60th anniversary of the first ascent of K2 8611-M.
The speech of President ACP was supported by a slide show of the exquisite mountains and landscape of Gilgit Baltistan snapped by famous photographer and ACP Executive Council member Mr Karrar Haidri,who was part of the two members ACP delegation to the General Assembly.
Statement by Manzoor Hussain, President Alpine Club of Pakistan
on Nanga Parbat incident at UIAA General Assembly
Pontresina, Switzerland - 5th October 2013
Mr Frits VRIJLANDT President UIAA, distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to make a statement on behalf of Government of Pakistan and Alpine Club of Pakistan about the unfortunate tragedy which occurred at Nanga Parbat in June this year. At the very outset I wish to emphasise that local population of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, in general and the local mountain communities in particular are very friendly towards guests and foreigners as part of their culture, traditions as well as for their economic interests. They always treat guests as God's blessing. No untoward or unfortunate incident against the visiting foreign mountaineers, trekkers or tourists ever occurred in
these areas prior to Nanga Parbat incident. This incident happened on the night of 22nd June 13 at about 22:30 pm by terrorists who arrived at the Diamer Base Camp, which is accessible from the Karakoram Highway after two day's trek. These 15 terrorists dressed in local paramilitary forces Gilgit Scouts uniform reached the 4,200 m high base camp after forcing two local porters to guide them. After taking all mountaineers and their staff out of tents they first looted them and later brutally killed 10 foreign mountaineers and one Pakistani staff member. Five of the local mountaineers, guides and staff were spared to tell the story. One Chinese mountaineer managed to slip away from his tent during the incident. The victim mountaineers included three Ukrainians, three Chinese, two Slovaks, one Lithuanian, one Nepali and a Pakistani staff. The terrorists also destroyed communication means and lap tops before they left the BC by mid night.
On learning of news of the incident on 23rd June morning everyone concerned
sprang into action. The local Army helicopters moved the victim’s bodies to
Gilgit. All the mountaineers on higher camps were asked to descend to BC and
were later flown to Gilgit and were flown back to Islamabad on 24th June for
their safety and security. In the mean time a mass aerial and ground search
was mounted to apprehend the culprits, which was of no avail due to various
forests in the area and terrain difficulties.
The whole Pakistani nation was shocked and grieved on this unfortunate incident. The general masses of Pakistan, the mountain communities and the civic society condemned this heinous attack on foreign mountaineers. We in the Alpine Club of Pakistan were devastated over this tragedy and undertook whatever was possible within our means.
At this juncture I, on behalf of Govt of Pakistan, Alpine Club of Pakistan and my
own behalf express our deepest condolence and sympathies with the bereaved
families, the concerned mountaineering federations and the international
mountaineering community. May God bless souls of these slain mountaineers
eternal peace in the heavens. Ameen.
Various actions taken by Govt of Pakistan and the Alpine Club of Pakistan after
the shocking incident were:
ACP officials met all the remaining depressed mountaineers evacuated
from effected Diamer base camp of Nanga Parbat to Islamabad on 24th
June, interacted, consoled and assured them about their safety and
security in Pakistan.
 Held a well attended Condolence Meeting on 25th June 2013 in honour of the
deceased mountaineers as well as to express solidarity with their living
colleagues and to assure the international mountaineering community
of Pakistan’s serious concerns on this unfortunate incident. It was
attended by mountaineers evacuated from Nanga Parbat, other foreign
and local mountaineers, the concerned Ambassadors/diplomats, besides
ACP members. The meeting which was chaired by a high ranking Govt
official was well covered by the national and the international electronic
and print media.
 ACP officials also condoled separately with relatives of the deceased
Chinese mountaineers who arrived Islamabad to collect bodies of their
slain kith and kin.
 ACP condoled with UIAA, the concerned country’s
federations/associations and the bereaved families.
 Government of Gilgit Baltistan with the help of Army shifted of the
equipment and belongings of all mountaineers from Nanga Parbat
Diamer base camp to Chilas by helicopters. Further ACP coordinated it’s
road transportation to Islamabad, and then handed it over to the concerned teams, including belongings of the deceased mountaineers at Islamabad, in the middle of the night of 29th June in the presence of Ukrainian Ambassador, Slovakian Counsel General, the local administration and the concerned tour operators.
 Coordinated with Pakistan International Airlines with the support of the
Government agencies for provision of extra flights and arranging top
priority seats on their flights from Islamabad to Skardu/Gilgit and back
for the visiting foreign mountaineers/trekkers to save them botheration
of the road travel.
 Government of Gilgit-Baltistan provided security measures to the visiting
mountaineering expeditions/trekking parties into the region ensuring
their safety during road travel to the main towns of the areas, further
provision of security to the mountain valleys and access to the base
camps as coordinated by ACP.
 I personally met all mountaineers and trekkers arriving after the tragedy
during their mandatory briefing and debriefing sessions at ACP for
reassuring them about their safety and security.
 Encouraged the Romanian mountaineers to continue climbing the Rupal
face of Nanga Parbat by asking the local government to set up a security
check post at Rupal base camp.
 Government of Pakistan despatched remains of all the deceased
mountaineers to their home countries with full honours by the Air Force
planes. Later the Govt also despatched the personal belongings of the
deceased through the Air Force planes.
The Minister Incharge for Gilgit Baltistan who attended the closing session of
the UAAA General Assembly which ACP hosted recently at Islamabad asked me
to inform you that Government of Pakistan’s security apparatus till date has
apprehended the master mind and three culprits of the Nanga Parbat incident
and arrest of the remainder culprits is expected soon. The Govt is soon going
to bring these culprits to trail. He also assured of the revised security measures
for the visitors to mountain areas.
Ladies and gentlemen, you can well imagine the economic fall out of the
incident on the local mountain tourism effecting the local mountain
communities. Out of the total 50 mountaineering expeditions which had
applied for and were issued climbing permits, 11 were immediately cancelled
after this unfortunate tragedy. A large number of trekking parties also decided
to cancel their trips to valleys of Northern Pakistan. For the next year lower
inflow of mountaineering and trekking traffic to our mountain areas is
Ladies and gentlemen, Pakistan is home and rendezvous of the most
spectacular and magnificent mountain ranges of Karakoram, Western
Himalayas and the Hindukush. Northern Pakistan, namely the areas of Gilgit
Baltistan and Chitral is blessed with over 720 peaks rising above 6,000 metres
including about 162 peaks rising above 7,000 metres and five eight
thousanders namely the 8,611 m high rocky pyramid of Chogory or K-2, 8,125
m high Nanga Parbat, 8,068 m high Hidden peak or Gasherbrum I, 8,047 m high
Broad Peak and 8,035 m high Gasherbrum II. You all know well that we have
some of the longest glaciers, enchanting valleys dotted with crystal blue lakes
and the roaring rivers. Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral, therefore can well be called
paradise for mountaineers, trekkers, adventure and nature lovers from all over
the world. We believe that nature has made Pakistan custodian of these
mountain areas for the benefit of adventure and nature lovers from across five
continents who wish to enjoy abounding charm and challenge of our mountain
Government of Pakistan is very conscious of the fact that until and unless we
have safe and secure mountain tourism environment in the country we cannot
benefit the international mountaineering community in their quest to climb
and face the ultimate challenge, and benefit the local mountain communities
who are dependent on the inflow of the mountaineers and trekkers for their
bread and butter.
Government of Pakistan, with inputs from Alpine Club of Pakistan, is reviewing
the security procedures for the visiting mountaineers, trekkers and adventure
and nature lovers which are:-
a          Registration and Police clearance of all Personnel Involved in Mountain
Tourism Measures are in hand for obtaining police security clearance of tour
operators, guides and high altitude porters. Registration of porters and local
communities who use the valleys leading to mountain areas is also in hand. It is
important that all personnel connected with mountain tourism and mountain
related adventure activities must be registered at local administration or
federal levels and are security cleared to prevent intrusion of extremist
elements in mountain tourism business.
b          Access to the Mountain Areas Accessing the mountain areas involves
road travel from Islamabad to the main towns of Chilas, Gilgit, Skardu and
Chitral and their further road travel to the intended mountain valleys. As a top
priority air travel is being ensured for the mountain tourists in first instance to
avoid the long road travel. However, measures to provide enhanced security
measures on main roads leading to the mountain areas and valleys frequented
by foreign mountain tourists are being undertaken by setting up of KKH
Security Force to patrol and secure the Karakoram highway. Besides additional
police check posts are being set up enroute. In addition, general scanning of
the private transporters operating from Islamabad to the main towns and back
is also being made.
c          Lodging Places The lodging places at Chilas, Gilgit, Skardu, Chitral and in
other areas frequented by foreign visitors are being registered alongwith their
employees. Further security is being provided at the most frequented hotels,
motels or guest houses during the mountaineering and trekking season.
d          Access to the Valleys leading to Mountain Areas
As demonstrated during the Nanga Parbat incident, the terrorist have developed the capability of reaching the heights and base camps of the high mountain.
Therefore, guarding valleys leading to mountain valleys beyond the last villages/inhabitation and base camps is essential. This is being done by
providing police security check posts covering all trekks leading to the
mountain valleys and the base camps with the authority to check and stop
unauthorised entries to these valleys. In some cases like Nanga Parbat
permanent Security Posts are being set up near the Diamer and other
frequented Base Camp like Rupal etc.
Ladies and gentlemen, the aim of the terrorists attack on peace loving
mountaineers was to deter and discourage visiting mountaineers, trekkers and
adventure and nature lovers to fulfil their passion, and from visiting Pakistan.
And at the same time deprive the local peaceful mountain communities from
their source of income. These insane objectives of terrorists can only be
thwarted by measures being adopted by Government of Pakistan for the safety
and security of the visitors to the mountain regions, and by the continuous
inflow of the visiting adventure seekers. We need support from the international mountaineering community to negate the terrorist’s designs.
At this juncture, I am proud to say that all mountaineering and climbing
federations of UAAA, in line with our best Asian traditions and culture
participated in the UAAA General Assembly hosted by Alpine Club of Pakistan
at Islamabad from 29th Sep to 1st Oct to express their solidarity with Pakistan
and ACP. Inspite of fears expressed from different quarters they chose to travel
to Islamabad where they enjoyed their stay. I am extremely thankful to all the
Asian mountaineering federations, and especially Mr Injeong Lee President
UAAA for asking the ACP to continue with UAAA General Assembly irrespective
of Nanga Parbat incident. I also avail this opportunity to pay my special thanks
to Mr Frits President UIAA for travelling to Islamabad and participate in the
UAAA General Assembly at my invitation. Mr Frits who has climbed extensively
in Pakistan knows our mountain communities well. I am indebted to you Mr
Frits for this kind gesture.
In the end, suffice to say that mountains shall be attempted and climbed till
the dooms day. Our beautiful mountain areas shall be there for all of you - the
mountain lovers, to exploit and cherish. You can fulfil your climbing instincts
and passions, and at the same time support us in Pakistan and our mountain
communities by visiting our challenging mountains. We need support of all of
you in the UIAA.

Thank you very much.