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Nanga Parbat tragedy: a trekker’s view

June 28, 2013

I am an avid trekker. I have trekked to Nanga Parbat Base Camp and Fairy Meadow and am a bit surprised at Chaudhry Nisar and the government’s response.

Any ordinary person can travel to the Raikot bridge which is three hours from Gilgit and 12 hours from Islamabad, unhindered. I took the Natco bus from Islamabad and en route we were never individually checked, even once.

From the Raikot Bridge, you rent a jeep for a hair-raising ride to Tatoo village that takes about an hour.

There are no check posts and not a policeman or any other security personnel in sight. From Tatoo it’s a three hour uphill climb or walk to Fairy Meadow and then about an hour or two to Beyal camp.

From here the trek to Nanga Parbat base camp is a few hours. The whole journey is not intense and you don’t need to be an experienced climber; any civilian in a reasonable shape can do it. There is no visible law enforcement apparatus in Fairy Meadow or beyond.

So why did we witness Chaudhry Nisar’s outburst. He should have admitted to the fact that the place is not guarded. The fact was that it never needed to be, at least not until now.

On another note Fairy Meadow and Nanga Parbat base camp as a hiker and tourist destination is unparalleled. It is the only place in the world where you have a meadow, alpine forests, a glacier (the Raikot glacier) and a major mountain all in one place. According to the locals it was named Fairy Meadow in pre partition days by a group of German tourists. A name that is most apt.

A Japanese botanist once did a study and documented 400 species of wild flowers at the base camp in the summer season. Nanga Parbat, the killer mountain, is a formidable mountain but the base camp which is frequented by many is not difficult to get to and the scenery is raw, un-spoilt and spectacular.

A large number of campsites and basic lodgings are available at Fairy Meadow and the hoteliers and camp keepers are very friendly and accommodating. Never once did I feel threatened or unsafe up there.

In the Fairy Meadow the women cover their faces and turn away when you pass the village but as you go up, near Beyal Camp the women don’t cover their faces and are even occasionally ready to talk to you about their way of life.

The people are friendly and many young students from here study in the big cities. They are open, friendly and most hospitable. When an act like this occurs it is the locals who are most hurt, at least economically, as the camps that open from May to September are their main source of livelihood.

The government says that they should dialogue with the Taliban. How can we talk to them if they are the same people who do such cowardly acts by killing tourists when they are the most vulnerable? How do we talk to them when they destroy the livelihood of a community like Fairy Meadow?

In addition to handling the security issue, the government should do something to mitigate the financial impact on the residents of the area due to the security scare.


PPP’s responsibility With reference to your editorial, ‘Blood-soaked reality’ (June 24), the president has ordered that a report on the killing of foreigners be submitted to him immediately.

He should know that his party is responsible for not improving security in the country during its last five year tenure. And this is what Mr Sharif’s government should do. We can live with poor roads and loadshedding, but we cannot live with poor security. Please do everything to improve the law and order situation.


Why no travel advisories? Collectively and systematically we have tried to destroy this country by looking the other way and doing nothing about terrorism.

Why didn't the tourism department or the local authorities issue travel advisories for the information of tourists? If the area is so dangerous then why didn't our security forces, including local police, take any action against miscreants? Why didn't they take measures to make the area secure?