Mountaineering exploits by a Pakistani woman, Samina Baig, have been hailed as inspiring for women and youth of the country.
Pakistan’s Minister for Sports, Mir Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani, congratulated Baig on her achievements which he said were unheard of in Pakistan. He assured the participants at a meeting in his office in Islamabad in early February that the Pakistani government “will extend every possible support for the promotion of mountaineering in Pakistan”.
Attending the meeting were Baig, the Secretary Sports, DG Pakistan Sports Board and President and the Secretary of Alpine Club of Pakistan, representatives of the Danish embassy as well as the UIAA Youth Commission President, Anne Arran.
Baig’s recent winter climbing expedition in the Karakorum was financially supported by the Danish government with the aim to promote new young role models in Pakistan and create a more positive image of Pakistan among an international public.
“The Youth Commission is inspired by positive steps forward in youth education in Pakistan mountain villages,” said Arran.
“Hand in hand with indoor facilities and outdoor climbing area developments close to cities, it can only motivate more youth to be adventurous. Samina and her fellow mountaineers are now better placed to achieve their own summits and will have the opportunity to take part in international ascents such as the UIAA Global Youth Summit which promotes peace, co-operation and protection of the environment. I was impressed by Samina’s performance and motivation – this will surely inspire others,” Arran concluded.
Baig said it was her “intention to motivate more women to participate in climbing as this will give a message of confidence to females everywhere.” The Pakistani climber, who earlier in 2010 ascended an unclimbed peak of 6,400 metres – her first-ever expedition and summiting – said she would also try to promote tourist trekking and climbing opportunities in Pakistan.
“Not least in my own region in Gilgit Balistan, as this can create economic opportunities, which are badly required for society. I would 100 per cent like to take part in a UIAA international meet, and it will be an honour for me to learn from the international community and deliver it to my fellow young people in my country”.
Following the meeting, the Secretary of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, Abu Zafar Sadiq, said: “indeed, we would nominate an active member for the UIAA Youth Commission and may design a youth programme in Pakistan in collaboration with the UIAA. Also discussed was the further development of indoor climbing facilities in Islamabad with the Federal Sports Minister and how his team might support this.”
This message was welcomed by UIAA President Mike Mortimer. “The UIAA recognises and supports the development of mountain and climbing education for youth in Pakistan. Improving access to the country’s fine mountain areas for youth is positive for both the future of the sport and environmental awareness,” Mortimer said.
The Danish Ambassador to Pakistan Uffe Wolffhechel explained why his country was supporting initiatives like the exploits by Baig: “The Danish government believes in the future of Pakistan, and the future lies with educating and promoting the youth of Pakistan. I have climbed with Samina and she is a remarkable mountaineer and also a positive role model of gender equality. We are proud to promote her and to draw to the attention of the international media this positive story of courage and opportunities. The role of diplomacy is to facilitate contacts and to promote development and values across borders. Samina is doing just this with her adventure diplomacy.”
The deputy head of the Danish mission, Jens Jacob Simonsen, sees the UIAA playing an important role. “Obviously the UIAA can also help to promote values like cultural understanding when climbing is developed across the borders. The UIAA is well known internationally and the brand of the organization might be used to promote such universal values. The UIAA Global Youth Summit is the essence of adventure diplomacy. It is a great idea.”
The mountain Baig climbed in 2010, Chashksin Sar, has now been renamed Samina Peak in her honour. Samina’s achievements can be found here.