By: Kalbe Ali
ISLAMABAD: Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to scale Mount Everest, came to the capital along with her brother, who is also her trainer and coach, to share her feelings about conquering the 8,848 metres peak with media.
“We have achieved this landmark 60 years after the Everest was first scaled,” Mirza Ali, said while talking to the media here on Monday at the Sports Complex.
“When we were to off to the expedition I had told my sister that she had to do it not for herself, or for the family but for the country”, he said adding that everybody should see that Pakistani women are not only courageous but have the ability to meet challenges.
He said in a conservative environment, the expedition would go a long way in giving the confidence to the women of remotest areas of the country.
The brother and sister are natives of Shimshal village in Hunza valley, one of the remotest part of the country, situated in Gilgit-Balitstan, close to the China border.
Most of the mountaineers of country are from this area including Nazir Sabir, first Pakistani to reach the top of Mt Everest.
“My message to the countrymen at this time is to encourage your sisters and give them confidence to scale the peak,” Mirza Ali said.
When he was asked that there was no government support or any financial help from the Alpine club in their expedition, Mirza Ali and his sister smiled and said that money was only part of the solution and not the way to achieve the target.
“Mountaineering is one of the most difficult sports – we are away from routine life for days living in tents and it requires high degree of physical and mental strength,” Samina Baig said. “I say that Pakistanis should not consider girls as weaklings.”
Strong, confident and soft faced Samina spoke well in English and Urdu. She said that she was a student of government college Islamabad but had to travel regularly to her area in Gilgilt-Baltistan for rigorous training.
She said the training included 1-2 hours daily running, endurance tests, acclimatisation and specialised mountain climbing training in Shimshal pass, close to her native area.
“There are many virgin peaks there and they always pose challenges to the mountaineers to conquer them,” she added.
Col. (retired) Manzoor, President Alpine Club of Pakistan, acknowledged that there was no support to the brother and sister.
He said during the course of training they observed that Samina was being overstressed and thought she might not be able to reach the summit.
“We have a simple system and that is to scale 4,000 meter high peak first, then go for the 5,000 to 6,000 and a couple of 7,000,” Col (retired) Manzoor said adding: “At this point one decides to go for the 8,000s – but Samina went directly from 6,000 to the top of the world.”
He said that mountaineering was a very difficult task, as it required determination and endurance.
As the speakers lauded the efforts of Mirza Ali and Samina Baig, it was stressed that the best way for the government to reward the people of Gilgit-Balitstan was to establish an international mountaineering institute at Shimshal, and promote mountaineering.
“The most serious issue is that many areas are closed for mountaineering and majority of visa applications are rejected, this policy is not good for the people neither for the country itself,” said Amjad Ali, a resident of GB.
However, Sadia Danish, adviser to the CM Gilgit-Balitstan, said that her government had decided to appoint Samina Baig as goodwill ambassador of GB on mountaineering, and they would nominate her for Nishan-i-Imtiaz.
As Khayal Baig the father of the two mountaineers smiled with tears in his eyes, Sadia Danish said that the quest has set new standards of brotherly love and gift for a sister and said, “Such tasks can only be achieved with the support of parents and that is greater than any help or support the government can extend.”