A traffic warden guides ambulances carrying the bodies of foreign tourists killed by unidentified gunmen near the Nanga Parbat peak, after they are brought to a military base in Rawalpindi June 23, 2013.—Photo by Reuters
A traffic warden guides ambulances carrying the bodies of foreign tourists killed by unidentified gunmen near the Nanga Parbat peak, after they are brought to a military base in Rawalpindi June 23, 2013.—Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Tour operators criticised the law-enforcement agencies on Sunday after the Gilgit-Baltistan base camp attack and said they did nothing except checking buses on the Karakoram Highway.

They accused security personnel of not making efforts to apprehend the attackers who could not have reached the road in less than 18 hours because of the difficult terrain.

Talking to Dawn, Ghulam Nabi, owner of the Fairy Meadow Tours, said there were three zones in the mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan.

“Siachen and mountains along the border of Afghanistan are a ‘prohibited’ area. Mountains over 6,500 metre high are in the ‘restricted’ area and mountaineers cannot go there without obtaining permits from the Gilgit-Baltistan Council after security clearance. However, the areas lower than 6,500 metres are open and anyone is allowed to go there,” he said.

“There are around 150 tour operators working in Gilgit-Baltistan but their mandate is to provide guides, cooks and logistics. The law-enforcement agencies get all information about the mountaineers at the time a permit is issued but don’t take any interest in providing security to them.”

Addressing a press conference, the president of the Pakistan Tour Operators’ Association, Amjad Ayub, said the mountaineers killed on Sunday had been staying at the base camp for 10 days for acclimatising.

“That place is at a (walking) distance of over 18 hours from the Karakoram Highway but the law-enforcement agencies did not try to arrest the attackers.

A team sent there cannot do anything except collecting evidence,” he said.

“We tried all day to meet the interior minister but could not get an appointment because of his engagements. We wanted to request him to ensure the arrest of the culprits because that is the only way to restore the confidence of mountaineers and the international community,” he said.

Mr Ayub said attacks on foreigners had also taken place in Indonesia and Egypt but there the attackers had been arrested.

“They can be apprehended by blocking exit points towards Kel, Neelum valley and Karakoram Highway. It is not a thickly populated area like Karachi and Lahore so they can be located through an aerial search.

“They cannot travel during the night so they will definitely try to escape on Monday morning,” he said.

He said 250,000 people of the region depended on tourism.

According to a spokesman for the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Dr Waseem Khawaja, the post-mortems of eight bodies had been completed and autopsy of the remaining two would be done on Monday morning. He said all the bodies were of men.

“According to initial reports all have been shot dead and most of them have injuries on their heads and chest.”

Updated Jun 24, 2013 07:11am

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Comments (8) (Closed)


Muneer bha
Jun 24, 2013 07:21am

There goes the only tourist industry in Pakistan. Security agencies have failed completely to protect Pakistanis, heck they actually believe in "good terrorist bad terrorist". The killers of 22 innocent Shias taken down from a bus last October and gunned down is still unsolved.

Shakespeare
Jun 24, 2013 07:28am

The law enforcement agencies are incompetently lead Kayani always talks about external threats How about dealing with the internal ones May be the amy can out source security to a competent company

Zia
Jun 24, 2013 08:08am

There are no words to describe this gory murder of innocent people. I am deeply shocked at this as it happens at one of the most beautiful spots of mountaineering world. Rightly described here it is much easier to apprehend the culprits than bigger cities. If a helicopter flight can track mountain goats for shooting, I am sure such culprits have no way to escape a similar flight action but a swift action is needed. The interior minister is useless, he is not taking any practical steps other than big talk. By suspending the chief secretary the police chief has no meaning - he should be suspending the chiefs secretaries of Sindh, Baluchistan and KP where such acts are a daily happenings. I am so disappointed that this Govt is rather helpless than the last one. This is strictly a border zone and very sensitive where army help is essential otherwise things would go out of hand. I have been trekking in this region and can tell you that it is not easy for the culprits to get out from here. Either they are hiding in the side valley of Muhtaht or may have climbed into upper reaches of Kaghan valley. The possibility of going towards Kel or for that reason on the KKH are slim but we should not rule out. The other possible place is Goharabad which can give access to across into Gilgit valley or into Tangir Darel region. If they have entered into Tangir Darel region then it is easy for them to get into the local maint stream which is already religious fanatic zone. It was only during the time of ZAB that this part was sternly controlled after the killing of Chinese road workers. Since then they are at peace but there are many culprits still hiding in these valleys. Only local police force can do this as they are used to the terrain.

Hassan
Jun 24, 2013 09:25am

Whenever we assumed that we are on our very lowest point, the next incident prove us wrong. This is such an incident where brave mountaineers become a victims of cowardly maniacs.

Raza
Jun 24, 2013 01:14pm

The PM condemns, the National assembly condemns and the President condemns these murders as they should but none of them orders the immediate blockade of routes so the murderers can be caught escaping.

The whole nation is being ruled by people with such small brains - pinheads!! You will see that these orders will NOT be given in time and the murderers WILL escape convincing me over and over again that nincompoops rule the roost in Pakistan.

p r sharma
Jun 24, 2013 02:01pm

A will is required to nab the culprits which is absent. Lip service only is made. such incident will adversely affect the tourism industry on which the residents are heavily dependent.

Latif Khan
Jun 24, 2013 02:54pm

It is petty that Pakistan can’t protect tourists who come from abroad and hire the services of locals and bring some income for them. They bring some prosperity for the area. These tourists are not coming today but over 60 or more years mountaineers and tourists have been visiting the areas. They have written wonderful books about our fabulist and wonderful mountains and people. This particular event took place in a remote area where no proper road work is in existence. The killers must have spent some time reaching there and way back at night would not be an easy ride for them. Our forces, if stationed nearby there must be equipped with appropriate gears and night sights, etc. for surveillance and tracking. With the support of helicopter, they would have easily tracked down the killers. It appears as if forces are not prepared for this eventuality or authorities their never considered risk to tourists. It is very strange! Shame on killers, too. In this kind of situations,, country requires an Emergency Striking Force.

Imtiaz Piracha
Jun 24, 2013 02:56pm

The attack on foreign mountaineers in Pakistan.

What could be the possible purpose of this attack?

• To divert public attention… from what?? • To mobilize public opinion in favor of an all out war on the TTP • To discourage talks with the Taliban • To undermine the armed forces for omission or commission • To weaken the elected civilian government

These possible objectives can serve the Western and Indian interests among the foreign forces, and Army and civil government’s interests among the indigenous forces. There is also a possibility that even our Arab friends might want to keep the new democratic government more amenable toward foreign influence by keeping it more challenged.

Whosoever maybe the beneficiary of this disaster to the interests of Pakistan, not to mention the human tragedy, what the patriotic quarters can do collectively, or in their limited capacity, is to pursue and expose the perpetrators. We have many patriotic nationalists in the police, bureaucracy, armed forces, journalists and among politicians in the country capable of accomplishing this national challenge. Unlike the violence and targeted killings in the complex large cities, solving this case could become an opportunity to serve as a model and set an example. There is a national need for exposing the truth.