Post #6 (#77) Darth Vader’s Castle Wed June 26, 2013.
Besides dealing a near mortal blow to whatever remained of the tourist industry in Pakistan, this Gory incident over the weekend has also raised questions about the government’s ability to rule the country.
The knee-jerk reaction of sacking government officials (i.e. the suspension of the Chief Secretary and the inspector general of Police of the Gilgit-Baltistan province) and expressing desperation for negotiating with terrorist outfits responsible for the carnage only show the governments confusion towards solving the problem that now is devouring the country’s vitals. Clearly Pakistan is currently in disarray over what to do in order to protect it’s remaining tourists within the country and to guarantee their safety.
As I sit here (at Cinnabon no less!), this resonates with my thoughts that I am already quite certain that I may never get to leave Islamabad on this expedition. It is quite sad that we live in a world that has come to this and that innocent adventure seekers aren’t even allowed to go and explore the wonders of this world in peace. Two days ago I reported (link here: http://kwgn.com/2013/06/24/colo-climber-delays-pakistani-summit-after-taliban-attack/ )
that our team would be waiting for clearance and for a decision from the Pakistani government that would guarantee our protection and allow us to proceed and travel to Skardu to begin our expedition towards the Baltoro Glacier and the Gasherbrums. We are still waiting…….and there is a lot of talk but no action. We actually had confirmed seats on a flight this morning but then we never went to the airport because the parliamentary representative informed Arnold that they are grounding all foreigners from travelling to Skardu until they meet and make a decision. Indeed flights were grounded to Skardu again today, yet this decision is deeper than that. Last night I sat in the Lobby with a South African named Mike who also said he was going to be flying to Skardu early this morning. He has not been seen in the hotel since, and I am pretty sure he made his flight to Skardu. (Although some say he took a jeep this morning north) Well, If we are being told we can’t fly, why are some foreigners getting through and not us? The answer lies within our expedition logistics company. We actually have Sherpas and porters in Skardu waiting for us as well, and Yet 7 –summits our logistics is not pulling the trigger….so what is going on?
Well, Mingma and Dawa Sherpa who own 7-Summits, a Nepali based company working here in Pakistan, are going through very tough times this week. They have been devastated by the events on Nanga Parbat, which basically wiped out some of their climbers, and also some of their other expedition friends and even one of their Sherpas. They also sat at a dinner with one of the Pakistani cooks who was tied up and forced to watch the entire execution and then have his life spared at the last moment. They are wrestling with the thought of sending out our expedition, because of an obvious reason, they are worried this could happen again. But also, I think it comes down to the financial. If they spend money to send us to Skardu, and then the Pakistani government decides to bring us back to Islamabad and basically cancel all expeditions, they will be out of more $$ and their company will be in Jeopardy. By not sending us, they are actually waiting in hopes that if our expedition doesn’t go, they will at least save in some of the transport costs. But of course if they go, the money will be spent for the expedition and they will have no qualms if it goes off without a glitch.
Well, I’ve got a thought on this: Pakistani’s will not kick us out of the country, in fact, I don’t believe the parliament is going to do anything except tell us to proceed with caution.
So, as or supplies and team sherpas and cooks are Waiting in Skardu, we wait here, and still don’t know when we will leave.
Another rumor I have heard is that the Chinese Embassy is continuing to put pressure on the Pakistani parliament to do something here, because it was a handful of their citizen climbers that were killed. Now the last thing the Pakistani’s want is to piss off the Chinese….India, and Afghanistan are already not too fond of the Pakistanis.
During all this I really think that the Taliban is basically sitting back and proud of this cluster show that they created and probably are waiting to execute more foreigners whenever they get the chance. Hopefully I will know more soon. But what would you do if given the choice? Flying is the safest option and I want to do that to get to Skardu, but what if flight are not possible? Would you be brave enough to drive up the road with heightened security on the highway? (although I don’t trust the level of security that the Pakistanis are claiming). If I have to go by road, I am telling you I want a gun. Aaah….I would much rather be trying to update you on my climbing rotations rather than from a state of political danger in the middle of Pakistan in a high rise hotel I call Darth Vader’s Castle….stay tuned.
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