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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7718
JPY
USD
107.32
GBP
USD
0.6125
CAD
USD
1.0974
INR
USD
60.919

Rates may not be current.