ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday handed one of its highest civilian awards to two foreign ambassadors killed in a helicopter crash in a remote northern valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the award at a memorial ceremony held in Islamabad on Tuesday, saying it would also be conferred to the wives of the Malaysian and Indonesian ambassadors, killed in the same incident.
Philippine Ambassador to Islamabad Domingo Lucenario Jr. along with his Norwegian counterpart Leif H. Larsen, their fellow ambassadors’ wives and the helicopter’s two pilots and a crew were killed while landing in Naltar valley last Friday.
Lucenario’s remains are scheduled to be flown to Manila on Wednesday.
“In recognition of their services, for their contribution toward forging closer bilateral relations, I am recommending to the President to bestow our civil gallantry award, Sitara-e-Pakistan, on Ambassador Larsen of Norway, Ambassador Lucenario of the Philippines, Madam Habibah binti Mahmud of Malaysia and Madam Heri Listyawati of Indonesia,” Sharif announced in a televised speech.
“Let us bow our heads in prayer to the Almighty for the souls of the departed. May their families have the strength to bear this irreparable loss. Let us also pray for the speedy recovery of all our friends, who are injured and are undergoing treatment,” he said
The helicopter was one of three carrying a delegation of ambassadors on a three-day trip to Gilgit-Baltistan, where they were set to inspect projects and meet with the prime minister.
The military and Pakistan’s foreign office said the crash was caused by a technical fault while landing.