News / Economy

Massacre Could Spell End for Pakistan Mountaineering

Hospital staff and rescue workers move the body of one of the nine foreign tourists killed by unidentified gunmen near the Nanga Parbat peak, from an ambulance to a hospital morgue in Islamabad, June 23, 2013.
Hospital staff and rescue workers move the body of one of the nine foreign tourists killed by unidentified gunmen near the Nanga Parbat peak, from an ambulance to a hospital morgue in Islamabad, June 23, 2013.
Reuters
Pakistan's once thriving mountaineering industry is reeling from the killing by militants of 10 foreign climbers, a massacre likely to drive away all but the hardiest adventurers from some of the world's tallest and most pristine peaks.
 
A tour company present during the attack said gunmen dressed as police ordered tourists out of tents at the 4,200-meter (13,860-foot) base camp of Nanga Parbat, the country's second highest peak, late on Saturday night, then shot them and a Pakistani guide.
 
The attack on the last peak over 8,000 meters (26,400 feet) in the western Himalayas has been claimed by both the Pakistani Taliban and a smaller radical Islamist group.
 
The foreign victims included two citizens from China, one from Lithuania, one from Nepal, two from Slovakia, three Ukrainians, and one person with joint U.S.-Chinese citizenship.
 
Manzoor Hussain, president of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, said at least 40 foreigners including citizens from Serbia, Italy, Ireland, Denmark and the United States, among several other nationalities, were evacuated from a higher camp.
 
A group of Romanians is believed to be scaling the mountain from another side. Some other groups booked for climbs this summer have already canceled, one company said.
 
Hussain said the attack was a “fatal blow” for his efforts to attract more climbers to the Hindu Khush, Karakoram and western Himalayan ranges, home to many unexplored summits.
 
“We are still in shock, we've had to apologize to so many mountaineers across the world,” said Hussain, who described the attack as appalling and said he was devastated.

Militancy Mars Climbers' Paradise
 
Geographically, Pakistan is a climbers paradise. It rivals Nepal for the number of peaks over 7,000 meters and is home to the world's second tallest mountain, K2, and three more that are among the world's 14 summits higher than 8,000 meters.
 
In more peaceful times, northern Pakistan's unspoilt beauty would be a major tourist draw, bringing sorely needed dollars to a nation that suffers repeated balance of payments crises.
 
FILE - A view of a snow-packed Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth highest peak, in northern Pakistan, July 14, 2004.FILE - A view of a snow-packed Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth highest peak, in northern Pakistan, July 14, 2004.
x
FILE - A view of a snow-packed Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth highest peak, in northern Pakistan, July 14, 2004.
FILE - A view of a snow-packed Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth highest peak, in northern Pakistan, July 14, 2004.
Mountaineers, many from China, Russia and Eastern Europe, are among the last foreigners who regularly visit Pakistan for leisure. Tourism has been devastated since 2007 by militant attacks and fighting between the Taliban and the army in once popular tribal valleys such as Swat in the northwest.
 
The number of expeditions had also dwindled, but before the attack some 50 groups were expected this year in the remote Gilgit-Baltistan region, a stop over on the historic Silk Road.
 
That has changed following Sunday's massacre, which sparked protests on Monday in Chilas, the closest town to the base camp, which depends on climbing for income in the summer.
 
“I haven't slept since yesterday, it's a very sad situation,” said Ghulam Muhammed, whose company Blue Sky Treks and Tours guided five of the climbers killed at the base camp.
 
Blue Sky is based in the town of Skardu, which is heavily reliant on the income brought by outsiders.
 
“I am very worried, now business is finished, today two or three have canceled, it is difficult now,” said Muhammed, who was in the capital Islamabad to speak to embassies and family members of the victims. “In Gilgit-Baltistan, a lot of the economy is from tourism - the money goes to transporters, hotels, markets, porters guides and cooks.”
 
The 'Hippie Trail'
 
In reality, the tourist industry last thrived in the 1970s, when the “hippie trail” brought Western travelers through the apricot and walnut orchards of the Swat Valley and Kashmir on their way to India and Nepal.
 
Years of war in Afghanistan helped end the overland route to Asia, and Pakistan's tourism never really recovered.
 
While the attack on foreign climbers was a first, it did not come entirely out of the blue. Gilgit-Baltistan's Shi'ite Muslim population has suffered a number of sectarian killings by radical Sunni groups over the past year, including one that claimed responsibility for killing the climbers.
 
“We have been warning the government,” Hussain said. “Security was beefed up, and there were checks on the road, but we wanted security parties for the mountaineers as well.”
 
The Pakistan Taliban later said it had carried out the attack, in retaliation for the death of its second in command in a U.S. drone strike in May. Since then, Pakistan's new government has been tested by a succession of major attacks on targets ranging from female students to a funeral procession.
 
Gilgit-Baltistan is part of the disputed region of Kashmir. It is connected to China by a highway crossing the Karakoram range, home to K2. The attack was acutely embarrassing for Pakistan, which nurtures a close friendship with China in a drawn-out struggle with India over territory.
 
In 1995, a group of foreign tourists was kidnapped in the part of Kashmir administered by India. One escaped, one was beheaded and four have never been found.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: RICARDO FERREIRA from: BRAZIL
June 25, 2013 8:44 AM
It's very sad the violence committed by radical groups not only in middle east but also anywhere in the world. For them, violence is not only a way of resistance but also a cultural trait.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8874
JPY
USD
120.83
GBP
USD
0.6497
CAD
USD
1.3271
INR
USD
66.162

Rates may not be current.