Relentless Qayyum saving lives every day | The Express Tribune


The inspiring figure of Abdul Qayyum Khan from the Civil Defence Department (CDD) of Lower Kohistan can be seen descending thousands of feet into the deepest ravines every day as he attempts to save as many lives in danger as he could.

The rescuer belonging to Pattan has prevented the death of hundreds of injured or stranded people who meet accidents while travelling on the unpredictable Karakoram Highway.

In incidents and places where government rescue teams and equipment give up hope, Qayyum is the one who gathers his team and successfully rescues the injured and retrieves the bodies by using ropes or carrying them on his shoulders.

He also remains on standby to deliver food free of cost to those stranded on the highway due to any reason, be it a broken down vehicle, a casualty caused by an accident or unfavourable weather blocking the road for days.

Just a few weeks back, when a bus was caught in a landslide, Qayyum and his team members were the first to reach the site and recovered 11 bodies from the ravine with a depth of hundreds of feet.

For the majority, even looking down at the ravines from a distance is a frightening experience, but Qayyum is driven by his determination to serve humanity and barely spares a second thought before descending down to near-impossible depths.

Even after losing a couple of team members during these operations have failed to deter him and he keeps pushing himself and his companions harder to save lives.

Qayyum said that whenever an accident occurs in Lower Kohistan, the local people call him before alerting Rescue 1122 or the police.

Read PM lauds ‘hero’ who tried to rescue Priyantha

He added that he has been involved in this noble work for the last eight years, as there were no other resources back then in Kohistan. While a formal rescue service is now operational in the areas since the last two years, the personnel belonging to this official unit are not used to the mountainous terrain and often have to defer to Qayyum for providing aid.

He was promoted as the head of CDD three years ago, which has only expedited his mission, and now he performs his duties while wearing a uniform.

Qayyum said that he is now quite familiar with the gorges and ravines of the area, as his years of service have led him to discover relatively easier paths to follow.

“Even in the brief time that I get for leisure, I often go for strolls on the Karakoram Highway as I fear that an accident might occur anytime and precious lives may be lost if I reach too late,” declares Qayyum.

He is now hailed as the ‘Sultan of Ravines’ by the admiring inhabitants of Kohistan, with people still coming from far and wide to thank him for saving their lives.

Qayyum pledges to continue with his humanitarian work with even more dedication. His noble deeds have not gone unnoticed either, with the government honouring him with several accolades and awards.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2021.

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