GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan Police Department has established a high altitude police unit in order to provide security to the foreign mountaineers and tourists in the region.
According to a GB police press release issued here on Sunday, initially the unit will have 50 policemen, while as many more will be added in due course of time.
“The high altitude police unit has been established for the first time in GB on the directives of Inspector General of Police Zafar Iqbal Awan,” it said.
A police official told Dawn on the condition of anonymity that the personnel of high altitude unit would be sent with the foreign expeditions who come to GB to scale high mountains of the region, including Nanga Parbat, K2 and other famous peaks.
He said that the unit personnel would also provide security to foreign tourists during their stay in sensitive areas of the region, including the Nanga Parbat base camp. In 2013 militants had attacked a high altitude mountaineering base camp at Nanga Parbat, leaving 10 foreign climbers and a local guide dead.
The official said that after the incident many foreign trekking and expedition groups had cancelled their tours to the region because of security concerns. He said that foreigner tourists usually come to the region in summer season and the police had decided to provide security to the mountaineers to avert any untoward incident.
He said that the high altitude police would be properly trained and equipped.
The statement added that the IGP also handed over 12 high altitude kits to the Diamer SP for the policemen to be deployed with foreign mountaineers attempting famous peaks in the region.
Speaking on the occasion, the police chief said that previously the policemen would use normal uniforms, which were incompatible with special situations on high altitude. He said that from now onwards special kits would be procured and distributed among the policemen to safeguard them against frostbite and other hazards.