ISLAMABAD - The Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) minister Mian Riaz Husain Pirzada and IPC secretary M Ejaz Chaudhary Wednesday met with the families of three missing climbers at Pakistan Sports Complex.

Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera, Khalid Mahmud Mirza, Col (R) Manzoor Ahmed and Abu Zafar Sadiq were also present on the occasion.

Riaz assured the parents to provide every help and assistance in finding whereabouts of the missing climbers namely Imran Junaidi, Usman Tariq and Khuram Shahzad, who went missing since August 31. The government taking onboard Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) also sent search parties on Wednesday and the search operation would continue for next few days.

The IPC minister cautioned to all youth attempting to climb mountains to undergo the mountaineering training should intimate their plans to Alpine Club of Pakistan for technical advice and coordination before venturing into any climbing activity, as they have the services of highly professional persons, who will provide great help to the climbers.

Talking to The Nation, Pakistan Sports Board Director General Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera confirmed that the issue was discussed in detail with the parents of the three missing climbers, who went to scale down Sirwali Peak on August 23 and remained in contact with remaining two climbers at base camp and were out of contact even on walky-talky on the night of August 31. They had told their companions that if they were out of contact for 4 or 5 days, then do start searching them.

“The remaining two climbers immediately informed Alpine Club of Pakistan, who within half an hour contacted the IPC ministry and PSB. An Army helicopter started the search operation for six hours, if the helicopter was hired privately or by foreign expeditions, they would have charged $4000 per hour, but the service was provided free of cost,” he added.

“The matter of the fact is that the climbers were not professionals and their sponsorship was arranged by private operators Ibex Club. They were total five persons, two stayed at base camp and remaining three went ahead to scale down the peak. They reached around 5000ft, after that they were out of sights and no contact could be made with them. The Alpine Club hired the services of world's renowned climber Hassan Sadpara, Said Tariq Siddique and Col Abdul Jabbar Bhatti.

“Sadpara is an authority, who managed to reach 4700ft, but after that, it was not possible for him to further scale down the peak due to hard weather and gloomy conditions. According to Sadpara, there are two possibilities, either they met avalanche or they fell into crevices. There was every possibility they fell into crevices owing to bad weather. Due to danger of avalanche and crevices, the rescue experts termed further search as dangerous and risky for the rescue team members, however, they would continue efforts if weather permit them,” Ganjera said.

He said the Inter Provincial Coordination ministry would also approach government of Gilgit-Baltistan, AJK and Ministry of Interior to speed up the efforts to trace the missing climbers and contact in this regard has already been made.

When asked they had declared the missing climbers dead, Ganjera said: “No, it is too early to say this. We are trying our level best and hoping for the positive results. We will continue our efforts, dig deep and find. There is remote possibility they might dropped in part of Gilgit-Baltistan. We want to make sure, if there is any chance and hope of their survival, we will carry out the search operation. It is about the lives of three persons and we can't sit back, as we have promised government’s best possible help to the parents and we will try our best to fulfill it.”