Claim: The Pakistan Army rescued all the children and teachers stuck in the cable car in Battagram, KPK

Fact: The Pakistan Armed Forces saved one child while locals saved the other seven.

On 22 August 2023, a chairlift carrying school children and teachers got stuck in mid-air in the Battagram district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 7:30 am.

Following the completion of the rescue mission and during the time in which it was still being carried out, several news organisations and social media users claimed that the Pakistan Armed Forces (SSG commandos or the Pakistan Air Force) had managed to save all those who were stuck in the cable car at Battagram. 

Twitter user Saad Kaiser tweeted that the Pakistan army had saved the children who were stuck in the broken chairlift at 1:28 pm.

The News also published an article on the same day with the headline, “Army commandos rescue all passengers of dangling cable car in Battagram.” Several local organisations including We News, HUM News (video), Pak Observer, Express Tribune, Geo News, and The Nation also published an article on the same day, attributing this statement on the incident to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR):

“The Pakistan Army successfully rescued all eight persons, including seven schoolchildren and a teacher, who were stranded mid-air after a cable car’s cable broke in Allai Tehsil of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Battagram district, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.”

Soon after these articles were published, social media platforms were flooded with posts clarifying that the locals played an instrumental role in the rescue operation and the state was not acknowledging them. Team Soch decided to go on the ground and conduct a comprehensive investigation based on interviews with the survivors, their families, and other local residents who witnessed the entire incident. 

Fact or Fiction?

We found that in the case of this rescue mission, government sources and the ISPR were sharing information regarding the incident in a misleading manner. By the time Saad Kaiser tweeted, the military officials involved had only just begun the rescue operation, so the statement regarding the army rescuing everyone was made well in advance. 

It’s true that Pakistan Army Aviation officers and Special Service Group (SSG) commandos began a helicopter rescue operation by hovering the helicopter on top of the chairlift and attempting to rescue those stuck in the chairlift. However, throughout the next 12 hours they only managed to save one person, after which the operation was paused due to nightfall. By this time DIG Hazara Tahir Ayub claimed to have reported that 2 people had been rescued. 

The helicopter rescue mission was halted when the sun set. Locals then took charge, creating an alternate path by stringing along a zip line next to the cables carrying the chairlift. A civilian then volunteered to zipline all the way to the broken chairlift. To ascertain an exact timeline of the incidents that took place that day, a Soch correspondent went on the ground and conducted comprehensive interviews with local residents and survivors. The timeline of the rescue mission has been reproduced below: 

Near 5 pm, only one 15-year-old student was rescued by the helicopter. His name is Irfan Ullah and his father’s name is Umraiz. They are residents of a village named Jhangri.

Around 8:30 pm, the second person was rescued, Niaz Muhammad, son of Umer Zaib. Muhammad, a 15-year-old student of 10th grade. He was rescued by a local, Sahib Khan, who works at Koka Company. Muhammad and his father Zaib are both residents of a village called Brachar. 

An image of Sahib Khan in a blue shalwar kameez using the zipline to rescue those stuck at the cable car also went viral on social media and was also used by mainstream news organisations. However, after rescuing the second survivor, he himself got stuck on the zipline, to be rescued later from members of his company. 

From this time onwards until 11 pm, the third, fourth, and fifth persons were also rescued –  the third person Gul Faraz, a 25-year-old, is a junior at Allama Iqbal Open University. His father’s name is Hakim Dad and they are residents of a village called Jhangri. 

The fourth person was a 15-year-old from grade 9th, his name is Rizwanullah and his father’s name is Abdul Qayum. They are also residents of Jhangri. 

The fifth was Sher Nawaz, son of Shah Nazar, a 22-year-old unemployed adult. They are residents of a village named Bakar and all three of them – Gul Faraz, Rizwanullah, and Sher Nawaz were rescued by Ali Swati and Muhammad Ilyas of Heaven’s Way Zipline Adventure. During this process, Muhammad Ilyas stayed in the chairlift and Ali Swati took the three persons with him to safety. 

By 11:45 pm, the three remaining children were also saved by Muhammad Ilyas of Heaven’s Way Zipline Adventure and a team from the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). These include Attaullah, son of Kifayatullah, a 16-year-old from 10th grade. He is a resident of Brachar.  Usama, son of Muhammad Sharif, a 16-year-old 10th grader who is a resident of a village called Dana and Ibrar Ahmad, son of Abdul Ghani, a 13-year-old from 6th grade who is from Jhangri. 

After the rescue mission was completed around 12 am, workers from Koka Company went back on the zipline to bring back Sahib Khan, who had been stuck there ever since he went to rescue the second child. 

An unnamed officer who witnessed the rescue mission also spoke to Soch Fact Check and confirmed that apart from the one child rescued by the helicopter, the others were saved by members of Heaven’s Way Zipline Adventure Pakistan, Sahib Khan, and a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) team. It is unclear what the exact contribution of the PAF team was.

From this comprehensive timeline, it is clear that any claims saying that the Pakistan Army saved all eight children and adults by coordinating the rescue mission is misleading. All articles and posts claiming that the first two survivors were rescued with the help of the helicopter are also false. 

Soch Fact Check also verified an image from the incident where two workers in a blue helmet were being wrongly identified as commandos from the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). In this article, a Soch Fact Check correspondent spoke to Muhammad Ali Swati, founder and chief executive of Heaven’s Way Zipline Adventure Pakistan, who explained that the man in the blue helmet, black shirt, and grey trousers is him and the man in the yellow helmet is Muhammad Ilyas, from the same company. (This video claims that he too was a member of the SSG sling team)  

Ali Swati also appeared on a Hum News morning show a day after the rescue mission and clarified that he and his team were contacted by the retired Captain Bilal Shahid Rao, Deputy Commissioner Mansehra to help with the rescue mission. This happened after one person was saved by the military. A video statement from Ali Swati was also published here on their official Facebook page. In this video, he very clearly says that 6 people were rescued by his team. The video was captioned: “Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise. Proud moment for Heaven’s Way Zipline Adventure Pakistan Team.”


We found different variations of the claim all across the internet, some posts claimed that the Pakistan Army rescue operation saved five people, some claimed that all eight were rescued by them and some claimed that they were able to rescue only four people. 

On Facebook, we found several posts echoing the claim here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. We also found posts on Instagram here, and here.

Conclusion: The Pakistan Army managed to save only one survivor with the helicopter rescue mission. 

To appeal our fact-check, please send an email to 


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x