Two British mountaineers were
rescued by Pakistan Aviation helicopter from a remote peak after their Austrian
climbing partner died as an avalanche hit him in the beginning of July. Bruce
Normand and Timothy Miller were ferried to safety by the Aviation pilots after
being stranded by bad weather at more than 19,000ft. Both remained uninjured.
Both were photographed standing alongside their rescuers soon after they were
brought down. Photographs showed a helicopter landing on a narrow snow-covered
ridge during the rescue.
Thomas Drew, Britain's High Commissioner in Pakistan, said the mission had been
“remarkable and dangerous”.He said: “Our gratitude to the Pakistan Army pilots
who rescued two British climbers trapped by an avalanche on UltarSar Peak near
Hunza. Our thoughts with their Austrian fellow climber who did not survive the
avalanche.” DG ISPRMaj Gen Asif Ghafoor, described it as a “daring mission”. The
three-member expedition started in late May and was permitted to go till the
first week of July. The team was being managed by Higher Ground Expeditions, a
tour operating company in Hunza Valley.
The people of France and Poland praised Pakistan for helping in an operation
carried out to rescue the Polish and French mountaineers on the killer mountain
of Nanga Parbat in north of Pakistan in January. ElisabethRevol, from France,
and Polish national TomekMackiewicz were seen through binoculars by fellow
climbers at the base camp, Karim Shah, a local climber who was in contact with
the base camp. “The military had two helicopters ready that moved four Polish
mountaineers who were already on a summit on K-2 to Nanga Parbat for the rescue
mission,”. Pakistan Army helicopters also rescued a Slovenian climber in 2005
from one of the world’s highest and most dangerous mountains where he had been
trapped for four days.
In 2005, the Pakistani troops rescued a renowned Slovenian mountaineer stuck
under a narrow ice ledge on one of the world's highest peaks for six days.The
crews, flying well above their helicopters’ normal operating altitudes, winched
mountaineer TomazHumar, 36, off an icy ledge on the face of the 8,125m
(26,657ft) Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest peak in the world. Two Army Lama
helicopters were set off and succeeded in lowering a sling and pulling him up
and away. Helicopters had tried to rescue MrHumar, who was stranded at 6,000
metres while attempting a solo ascent of the Himalayan mountain, every day but
were thwarted by low cloud. Humar was taken to the town of Gilgit, about 155
miles north-east of Islamabad. It is believed to be one of the few successful
rescues carried out at such a high altitude.
Avalanches and landslides are common at the Siachen Glacier during the winter
and temperatures there can drop as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius. An estimated
8,000 troops have died on the glacier since 1984, almost all of them from
avalanches, landslides, frostbite, altitude sickness or heart failure rather
than combat.Pakistan army is probably the only fully functional institution in
Pakistan as it has been playing various laudable constructive roles in the
development of the country. It is clearly evident from history that Pak Army has
always been at the forefront whenever the nation is hit by natural calamities
and other emergencies. Be it the devastating earthquakes or the ravaging floods,
in times of any natural calamity or even in man-induced disasters in Pakistan;
governments had always turned to military in order to control the situation.
And, in turn, our brave forces have never ever disappointed the nation.
In an event of any disaster, Armed forces in general and Pakistan Army in
particular are employed to conduct relief and rescue operations. Like many
countries, particularly developing ones, Pakistan had no proper mechanism for
disaster preparedness in place, and no civilian department even bothers to
dedicate its personnel to handle the disaster relief.
The largest relief operation in the country’s history was launched when many
parts of Pakistan were hit by the worst natural disaster i.e. earthquake of
8thOctober 2005. This dreadful event not only exposed the fragility and
weaknesses of the ages-old system but also made people raise voices for the
establishment of a robust and well-orchestrated system.Good governance is the
key to success in better disaster management. Quality in governance must be
ensured to instill confidence in masses. There should be a separate aviation
department for rescuing purposes for better management and control. We should
have our own teams to provide assistance. Our approach to Humanitarian Aid
Missions should be rooted in the small team tactics and mission planning used
for Special Forces. Humanitarian missions involve the airlift of relief workers,
equipment, or supplies to victims of natural disasters, major accidents, civil
conflicts, or political emergencies. These missions entail air evacuation from
dangerous areas, aerial spraying of insecticide or fire-retardant chemicals, air
rescue from shipwrecks, flooded areas, or other emergency situations.
Well-organized actions, regarding mitigation and preparedness, would help making
the nation more disaster- resilient. Effective pre-disaster measures would also
require less effort during response phase of disaster management. While
humanitarian missions may incur small-scale benefits, these projects ought to be
carefully monitored and scrutinized. Special skills and training offers a
thorough knowledge of foreign languages, customs and cultures. And apart from
this, media should play its positive role so as to highlight the efforts of
Pakistan army in order to bring stability in the country as on one side, Army is
fighting war against terrorism while on other, it is always there whenever a
need arises to control the deteriorating situation.
(The author is freelance columnist based in Peshawar)