Islamabad, Dec 6: Two pilots have embraced martyrdom on Monday after an Army Aviation helicopter crashed at Siachen in Baltistan’s Ghanche district, the military’s media wing said.
The helicopter was on a routine reconnoitre in Chhorbat’s Shyuk sector when it crashed apparently due to a technical fault.
The martyred pilots were Major Irfan Barcha and Major Raja Zeeshan Jahanzeb, the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) said.
Search and rescue helicopters and army troops reached the site of the accident following the crash.
The ISPR did not give a reason for the accident.
Major Irfan Barcha hailed from Hassanabad Hunza and was settled at Nomal on the outskirts of Gilgit. He was the only son of noted author and researcher Sherbaz ali Barcha.
He was also an avid photographer.
As the news broke, condolence messages started pouring in on social media.
Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan and governor Raja Jalal Hussain Shigri in their separate statements expressed grief over the incident and extended condolences to the families of the martyred pilots.
Leader of Opposition in Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly Amjad Hussain Advocate paid tribute to the martyred officers and offered condolences to their families.
The Pakistani nation is proud of the sacrifices of the army. The martyred pilot Major Irfan and Major Zeeshan and a crew member will be remembered.
The Pakistan People’s Party and people of Gilgit-Baltistan stand with the families of the martyrs, the opposition leader said.
Noted writer, researcher and intellectual Aziz Ali Dad in his message on his wall wrote: “Tragedy struck those who do not cause tragedy. Sherbaz Barcha is one of the finest persons in Gilgit-Baltistan. It is his family that was struck by a tragedy.
“I do not have words to express my grief for the untimely death of his son. I can only offer roses over his soul. My condolence for great Sherbaz Barcha.”
Academic and activist Zaigum Abbas was also struck with grief.
“I am devastated to learn about the death of my dear friend Major Irfan Bercha … who was an aviation pilot, a thorough gentleman, an exceptional photographer and above all, the only son of renowned writer Sherbaz Bercha sab.
“Just like his father, Irfan touched the lives of many people. My heart goes out to his family. Farewell, friend.”
Liaqat Hussain Shahab termed the two officers’ death an irreparable loss!
About Major Iran, he said he was one of the most beautiful souls I have known.
Rizwan Qalandar wrote on his wall: “Gilgit-Baltistan has lost another son, another gem in the line of duty today. A duty to ensure the egos of old men living in the comforts of their heavily guarded villas on both sides of the border are intact.”
He went on to say that Major Irfan Barcha (Shaheed) who went by the name of Hunzukutz Khan on social media was an artist and a nature lover at heart.
“I used to know him through his photography on Instagram. He must have departed smiling as the cruel beauty of nature must have embraced him but he has left not just his old parents and maybe a wife and kids but all of us in grief today.
Almost a year ago, a Pakistan Army Aviation helicopter crashed due to technical reasons while carrying out a casualty evacuation in Gilgit-Baltistan’s remote area.
The glacier is surrounded by some of the world’s highest peaks and lies near the de facto border with India in the militarised region of Kashmir, which has caused two of the three wars between the two countries since independence in 1947.
The nuclear-armed rivals have fought over Siachen in 1987, but guns on the glacier have largely fallen silent since a slow-moving peace process was launched in 2004.