US Deputy Secretary of State visiting Pakistan

Alice G. Wells. (AFP)
Updated 06 November 2018

US Deputy Secretary of State visiting Pakistan

  • Bilateral relations and Afghan peace process on the agenda
  • Pakistan-US ties strained since January

ISLAMABAD: US ambassador Alice Wells is visiting Pakistan Tuesday, with bilateral relations and the Afghan peace process expected to be on the agenda.
Her trip is a follow-up to September’s visit from US Secretary State Mike Pompeo and his meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, ministry spokesman Dr. Mohamed Faisal tweeted.
Wells is also due to meet Finance Minister Asad Umar and a possible IMF bailout is expected to be discussed.
Pakistan’s economy is sagging under a current account deficit of $18 billion, mainly due to high import bills, insufficient exports and home remittances, and forex reserves are dangerously low.
The government has attempted to get funds from other Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Prime Minister Imran Khan and senior cabinet members were in China recently, hoping for a similar package from one of its biggest investors.
Pakistan had approached the IMF but, in August, Pompeo said: “We’ll be watching what the IMF does. There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars, and associated with that American dollars that are part of the IMF funding, for those to go to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself.”
Ties between Pakistan and the US have been under since January, following the announcement of a South Asia strategy by US President Donald Trump. Trump accused Pakistan of sheltering terrorists – a charge Pakistan denies. 
Later in the year the Pentagon froze $300 million in aid “due to a lack of decisive actions” on Pakistan’s part to eliminate terrorists from the country. The freeze was raised during Pompeo’s visit.
Pakistan claims the money is not aid but a refund for expenses incurred during the war on terror and for its support of the US and NATO-led armed forces.

Nepalese climbers bag mountaineering’s last great prize: winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

Updated 23 min 45 sec ago

Nepalese climbers bag mountaineering’s last great prize: winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

  • One of the ten Nepalese mountaineers performed the feat without using an oxygen cylinder
  • K2 earned the nickname of ‘savage mountain’ since a large number of climbers lost their lives while trying to scale it

ISLAMABAD: A group of Nepalese climbers made history on Saturday by summiting the world’s second tallest mountain, K2, in winter, according to its team leader who made the announcement on Facebook only minutes after making the accomplishment. 

“The Karakorum’s ‘Savage Mountain’ has been summited in the most dangerous season: WINTER,” Chhang Dawa Sherpa exclaimed in his social media post.

His announcement was also confirmed by an official of the Alpine Club of Pakistan which deals with mountaineering expeditions in the country.

At 8,611 meters, K2 was the only peak among the 14 “8000ers” located in the Karakorum and Himalayan mountain ranges that remained unconquered during winter. 

Along the icy glaciers of the Karakoram, mountaineers and locals speak about K2 summits with a hushed reverence, and folklore in the area is rife with mythical stories of the mountain “permitting” climbers to reach its top — considered the ultimate honor granted to a mortal by nature. 

When a climb doesn't go as planned, locals tell each other the mountain refused to be scaled. 

“The Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt. K2 … this afternoon at 17:00 local time,” Dawa wrote. “This is the first winter ascent of the 2nd highest mountain in the world and the ONLY eight-thousander (8000er) to be climbed in winter. This is a greatest achievement in the history of mountaineering, this is a good example of team work … ‘If a mountain lets you climb it, no one can stop you.’” 

One of the ten Nepalese climbers, Mingma G, also became the first mountaineer to summit the peak in winter without an oxygen cylinder.

K2 earned the nickname of “savage mountain” since a large number of climbers — 86 in all — lost their lives while trying to scale it. 

In 2008, 11 climbers from an international expedition died in what was considered as the single worst accident in the history of mountaineering. 

K2 straddles the Pakistan-China border. While it is about two-and-a-half football fields shorter than Everest (8,848 meters), it is widely considered to be the toughest and most dangerous mountain to climb. 

More than 300 climbers have scaled K2 in spring and summer. Italians Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli were the first to reach its summit in the summer of 1954.