ISLAMABAD: Notwithstanding that the May 8 helicopter crash in Naltar Valley was an accident caused by a technical glitch, foreign diplomats posted in Islamabad are unlikely to use planes and helicopters provided by the Pakistan government.
“Unfortunately, under a new advisory we may not get authorisation from our governments to travel on Pakistani planes or choppers anymore,” a Western diplomat told The Express Tribune.
Ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines, wives of Indonesian and Malaysian envoys, two pilots and a crewmember were killed when the Mi-17 helicopter of the Pakistan Army went down shortly before landing in Naltar Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan.
The Western diplomat, who was also invited to the event but could not travel due to his preoccupation with official work, said that ‘stringent security protocols’ would now be observed for using any air facility to be offered by Pakistan.
The diplomat said the tragic chopper crash might not augur well for Pakistan to improve its image globally.
The diplomats, stationed in Islamabad, cannot travel on their own to certain areas, including the tribal regions as well as Northern Areas.
Following the Naltar tragedy Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry had defended the decision to take members of the diplomatic corps to G-B to showcase the natural beauty of the region on the grounds that it would help attract foreign investment.
When approached, Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said such trips for foreign diplomats were ‘common’ all over the world.
“And we don’t force anyone to go on such trips. It is voluntary. It is up to the foreign missions whether they want to accept the invitation or not,” he said when asked that foreign diplomats might not travel on planes and choppers provided by the government in the wake of Naltar tragedy.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2015.