President of the Alpine Club of Pakistan Responds to Tragedy
June 23, 2013 marked a dark moment in climbing history when nine climbers at the Diamer base camp of Nanga Parbat were gunned down by terrorists. AAC Executive Director, Phil Powers, reflected on the tragedy, saying “My deepest expressions of sadness go out to the families of the climbers who were so ruthlessly murdered at the foot of Nanga Parbat. They may have been, at least to some degree, aware that their fathers, brothers and sons were headed into perilous terrain. They could never have been prepared for this senseless act.” In response to a personal letter from Phil, Manzoor Hussain, President of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, offered up his deepest condolences and promised that security measures would be taken.
Dear Phil Powers,
I thank American Alpine Club for sharing our grief and anger on this appalling Nanga Parbat Diamer Base Camp incident. We still suffer through shock and grief, and are traumatized on the brutal massacre of 10 guest mountaineers and one local support staff by these enemies of humanity, generally known as terrorists, on the night of 22ndJune 2013. We condemned this heinous and outrageous crime in the strongest terms and apologized to the international mountaineering community over this unfortunate incident, in general, and to the aggrieved associations, and bereaved families of all these brave mountaineers, in particular. We provided all required support and assistance to the reminder 43 mountaineers who were evacuated to Islamabad on 24th June and also held a Condolence Reference for the fallen comrades in Islamabad on 25th June.
Pakistan, no doubt is custodian of the great mountain wealth of Karakoram, Western Himalayas and Hindukush, but these great mountains and long glaciers belong to the international mountaineering community and nature lovers. This is what the history tells us and this is what I learnt during my first encounter with these high mountains in the company of lovely human beings; Bob Bates and Adams Carter, and their beautiful wives Gail and Ann. This is how all of us connected with the mountain tourism also feel and you must have also experienced these feelings during your various visits to the Karakoram. You have rightly mentioned about the hospitality and cordiality of the local communities of Gilgit Baltistan, away from the crowded and troubled cities of Pakistan.
As I shared with Tom Hornbein that since 1974 when Nick and Tom attempted Payu, this part of the world has drastically changed dominated by extremism, terrorism and hatred. It appears that mission of these enemies of humanity is to kill everyone living, including themselves, for reasons beyond our comprehension. These environments were brewing up in Northern Pakistan since long which they attributed to all factors on God’s earth ie, international politics, Afghanistan crises, local economy, religion and host of others, but I fail to understand if killing of innocent people would resolve these issues?
Fall out of this horrible incident cannot be measured only in economic terms for the local communities, but more so it has shattered confidence of local people and a psychological blow to us all, the local small mountaineering community. This incident has certainly united the international mountaineering community for the sake of future climbing in the region. Government of Pakistan, with the support of all the stake holders, is finding ways and means for providing fool proof security to all the visitors. In this context ACP intends holding a Seminar of all stake holders, including the Government next month to discuss all issues facing mountain tourism in Pakistan and reorganise ourselves and our structure for the new challenges that we face. USAID is working in Pakistan in various sectors for the uplift of the local communities in Pakistan and I wonder if they can assist us in organising such like activities and structural reorganization.
The Union of Asian Alpine Associations is also scheduled to hold its General Assembly in Islamabad in the last week of September which will certainly show solidarity with Alpine Club of Pakistan in our pursuit to ensure safe environments to all visitors to the mountain areas. We expect President UIAA to participate in the UAAA General Assembly.
I hope to attend the forthcoming UIAA General Assembly to express our condolence and to reassure the international mountaineering community about the safe environments for mountain tourism in Pakistan. We look forward for your continued support in all our efforts in this regard.
I, once again thank American Alpine Club, and yourself for your sincere condolences and sharing our grief over this traumatic incident.
Alpine Club of Pakistan
In light of this tragedy, Manzoor Hussain, also sent the following letter to the UIAA, the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, which the AAC serves as a member federation to. He offered his condolences and promised mountaineers and trekkers that the Government of Pakistan will be taking “conceivable measures to provide utmost security to the guest mountaineers and to make it safe to climb the spectacular and most challenging mountains of Karakoram, Western Himalayas and the Hindukush in Pakistan.”
Dear Mr. President
Compliments from Alpine Club of Pakistan.
ACP/NP/2013 28 June 13
I write to you at the darkest and saddest hour of Pakistan’s mountaineering history. We suffer through shock and grief, and are traumatized on the brutal massacre of the innocent mountaineers on the night of 22nd June 2013 at the Diamer Base Camp on Nanga Parbat, in Gilgit–Baltistan. In this unfortunate incident, 10 guest mountaineers and one local support staff were gunned down by these enemies of humanity generally known as terrorists. We condemn this heinous and outrageous crime in strongest terms and do not have any excuse, except to say that we apologize to the international mountaineering community over this unfortunate incident, in general and to the aggrieved associations, and bereaved families of all these brave mountaineers, in particular.
Victims of this heinous crime included outstanding and reputed mountaineers from various countries as mentioned hereunder:-
1 Mr Igor Sviergun – Ukraine
2 Mr Badavi Kashaiev – Ukraine
3 Mr Konyayev Dmytro – Ukraine
4 Mr Anton Dobes – Slovakia
5 Mr Peter Šperka – Slovakia
6 Mr Yang Chunfeng -China
7 Mr Rao Jianfeng – China
8 Mr Honglu Chen -USA
9 Mr Sona Sherpa – Nepal
10 Mr Ernestas Marksaitis – Lithuania
11 Mr. Ali Hussain – Pakistan
On behalf of all members of Alpine Club of Pakistan and on my own behalf I take this opportunity to express our deepest and heartfelt condolences, share grief and sincerely apologize for the tragic loss of these mountaineering comrades from various member Associations of UIAA. We convey our condolences, regrets and sympathies to the bereaved family. May souls of these departed ones rest in eternal peace in the heavens.
On 25th June Alpine Club of Pakistan held a condolence meeting at Islamabad to mourn the unfortunate demise of these great mountaineers and to remember them and condole with the bereaved families. This meeting was attended by all mountaineers who were evacuated from Nanga Parbat on 23rd and 24th June. ACP, with the help of the Government of Gilgit Baltistan is arranging in transportation of the expedition’s gear from Diamer base camp to Chilas by helicopter, which will be completed today. Later it is being transported by road to Islamabad and shall be handed over to the concerned mountaineers at Islamabad. ACP has taken up a case of Royalty free climb of Nanga Parbat when ever these effected mountaineers desire to return back to the mountain in future.
At this juncture I may mention that general masses and Government of Pakistan are shocked and shattered by this unfortunate incident. Civil society all across the country has raised strongest voice and has mourned the tragedy of these innocent mountaineers. You may already know that the government of Pakistan has taken a very serious notice of this incident and military operation is taking place in the area to arrest the culprits. The government has immediately started to discuss to arrange fool proof security measures for the visiting mountaineers and trekkers with the help of all stake holders. I take this opportunity to reassure you and all the international mountaineering community in general and the mountaineers from the effected countries, in particular, that Government of Pakistan from now on is taking all conceivable measures to provide utmost security to the guest mountaineers and to make it safe to climb the spectacular and most challenging mountains of Karakoram, Western Himalayas and the Hindukush in Pakistan.
With profound regards.
Manzoor Hussain, Lt Col. (Retd) President
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