Sunday, June 16, 2024

Loss of Valuable Lives

kohistan-accident Twenty-Five persons, including 23 soldiers of Pakistan Army and 2 civilians were killed when a Coaster Bus accidently fell into a deep gorge on the Karakoram Highway, in Kohistan District, on Saturday, March 16, 2013. The group was on their way to Skardu, started their journey from Rawalpindi on Friday night.

Local and official sources said the accident happened due to brake failure. There were 27 people on board, out of which 25 were military persons and 2 were civilians, the bus driver and helper. Except of 2 wounded soldiers, all other were killed on the spot. The vehicle was on rent, registered number PW 737.

The news about the accident spread like a wildfire in the area and the local people along with police reached the spot and started efforts to rescue the injured and to retrieve the bodies. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesman confirmed that 23 army personnel, including a Lieutenant Colonel of Northern Light Infantry Battalion were killed in the accident.

This is not the first time that such an incident has happened, loss of valuable lives of army persons. Couple of years ago, during General Musharraf era, a group of highly decorated officers died in a plane crash, all of them were in the same plane, traveling together and all of them died instantly in the plane crash. Resources speculated that the plane was hit from ground, but ISPR refused this argument and clarified that nothing has happened as such, and the plane crashed due to mechanical failure and it was purely an unexpected accident. –––– Whatever was the reason, the point is that valuable lives were lost.

It is a question of high concern that why army people put so many highly decorated officers in one plane / vehicle all together. It is a huge security lapse. If anything happens to the plane / vehicle, there will be very little chance of safety. Army consumes a huge amount of money from annual budget, they can easily afford multiple planes / vehicles to transport their men.

Similarly, in the accident of March 16, 2013, 25 military persons were traveling in vehicle, it was a private vehicle, hired on rent, and the driver and helper both were civilians. This was certainly a security lapse. Why they need a civilian rented vehicle. Army has so many vehicles at their disposal. Why did they not use their own vehicles for traveling and transporting their men? Secondly, the route was in a highly treacherous hilly area, and the vehicle was a mini bus (long vehicle) carrying many passengers. This is also a security lapse. Heavy vehicles are more likely to face accident in hilly areas, because heavy vehicles are difficult to control. Instead using a one heavy vehicle they would have used two or three light vehicles, such as Hi-Ace, SUVs, Double Cabin, etc. So, in case if anything happens to one vehicle, the others stay secure. These are the points need attention.

On August 17, 1988, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq made exactly same kind of mistake while traveling on a C-130 Hercules plane. There were total 31 people on board, including General himself, the US Ambassador, the chief of the US military mission in Pakistan and a “group of senior officers of Pakistan army”. It was a national disaster, a huge loss of national asset.

There are so many examples that explain the need to change the protocol. We hope such accident will not happen in future, and intelligence and army command will take care of this issue.


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