GILGIT: The Pakistan Association of Tour Operators (PATO) condemned the arrest of a local tour operator following the death of Brazilian paraglider Rodrigo Chaddad Raineri. The accident occurred when the Brazilian fell to his death while paragliding in Shigar district on Thursday.

Deputy Commissioner Shigar Waliullah Falahi had taken action against CEO of Alpine Adventure Guides Pakistan Mohammad Alifor allowing the foreigner to fly without obtaining permit. PATO termed the arrest illegal.

According to a press release issued by the PATO chairman and executive committee members on Monday, the foreigner died as a result of his own decision. “As a tour operator, Mohammad Ali was responsible only for providing base camp services to foreign adventure tourists,” it said.

The tour operator had submitted and arranged the required government permissions and a trekking permit for eight foreign trekkers. On July 3, 2024, Ali also submitted a request for a ‘No Objection Certificate’.

The eight trekkers had left for Baltoro with the necessary documents for the trek. The team members were due to fly from GORO II, after giving the DC office ample time to issue the NOC, for which a draft was already prepared in DC Office.

Ali’s role as their ground handler was to inform them whether their NOC had been issued once they reached GORO II so they could decide on their flight (paragliding) accordingly.

However, the deceased and the group leader decided to fly before reaching GORO II, and flew from Askoli village instead. This action violated the clients’ commitment to the tour operator, as per the application submitted to deputy commissioner Shigar. Tragically, the paraglider died near Kisar Shagaraan on July 4 as a result of him and his foreign group leader making a decision without informing the operator.

PATO urged the GB chief minister, chief secretary and commissioner Baltistan to intervene and ensure immediate release of Ali.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2024

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