Chief Minister Mehdi Shah defended Gilgit-Baltistan officials on Sunday against claims of responsibility for the shooting deaths of 10 foreign tourists at a Nanga Purbat base camp.
Talking to The Express Tribune, the chief minister said he had not taken any action against the responsible officials because “the incident took place in a far flung mountainous area and it is unjustifiable to hold officials responsible”.
Shah also said that the G-B administration did not expect tourists to be attacked in those regions and that foreigners would have been provided security, had they received any “prior information”.
However, he claimed that his administration would now fully concentrate on such grey areas on the basis of the attack. He claimed that law enforcement agencies had a good intelligence coordination system, even though they failed to provide prior information of the attack.
The chief minister said the area was cordoned off after the incident, from all the three exit points—Astore, Fairy Meadows and Gunar Nalla. “However, the militants managed to sneak from the Gunar Nalla point and succeeded in carrying out the attack as law enforcement agencies are heavily deployed on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) after frequent attacks on the passengers,” the CM added.
The chief minister said the Frontier Corps (FC), Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Scouts and police were jointly taking part in the search operation; whereas army helicopters were engaged in aerial surveillance. However no arrest had been made so far, he added.
Meanwhile, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Chaudhry Barjees Tahir condemned the incident and directed the officials concerned to take all possible measures to arrest the culprits.
A senior police officer told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that some locals from Astor district were arrested some days back for planning an attack on Superintendent Police’s (SP) office. Talking to The Express Tribune, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Gilgit-Range Ali Sher said that the suspects had been rounded up from the crime site and that investigations were under way.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2013.