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Everest under her feet

Politics is not the only passion that should consume all of our energies. No less testing challenges exist beyond the gladiatorial politics, which if taken on reward no less handsomely. For one, our Northern Areas are home to some of the world’s highest peaks – there are 108 peaks above 7,000 metres, including the five that are among the world’s 14 highest (the eight thousanders). They dare you to prove your grit.

There is the K2/Godwin Austen, Nanga Parbat, two Gashbrum sisters and Broad Peak. Admitted, quite few of us accepted their challenges and humbled the towering peaks, but not many of us – much less the women of Pakistan. That’s in the past. Ask the 21-year-old Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to conquer Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain with a peak at 8,848 metres. She completed the climb Sunday morning – 10 days to the 60th anniversary of its first successful assault.

On 29th May, 1953 Edmund Hillery and his Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgy reached the summit. From then on Mount Everest has turned out to be most formidable challenge to those who dare, and its conquerors include two Pakistanis Nazeer Saibir and Hassan Sadpara. Samina happened to be the first Pakistani woman. She reached the summit at around 7.30am (Nepalese time) along with a small team of climbers including two Indian girls and her brother Mirza Mehbub Ali, who is a professional. She is a born climber. Her birth place Shimshal, a village in the Hunza-Nagar district, is ideally placed in the lap of high mountains where climbing comes as a way of life. No surprise within half an hour her reaching the summit after climbing the whole night her spectacular success was viral, people greeting each other. Perhaps also, as she has provided the much-needed diversion from the blood-curling political wrestling in Karachi and elsewhere though the mountain climbing is so much a game without the spectators. Samina’s victory comes on the heels of another very heart-warming report. A day before, Raha Moharrak became the first Saudi to win this honour. Pity, not many Pakistani women joined this high-altitude tournament. About 35 foreigners and 29 Nepalese Sherpa guides were in Nepal to reach the top of the world peak to celebrate the historic achievement. What Samina should be telling women in Pakistan some of her expected message has already been delivered by Raha. Asked her sentiments on being the first Saudi on the Everest top she simply said: ‘I don’t care to be the first unless it inspires someone to be the second’. In Pakistan, let alone mountaineering, the women’s share in sports and other outdoor activities is one of the lowest in the world. There are prohibitions bordering the definition of taboos against the fuller women participation. But these have lost their validity and their grip is loosening. No wonder Samina and her brother titled their joint venture as the ‘First Pakistani Gender Equality Mt Everest Expedition’.

Source: Business Recorder

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