GILGIT (ET): Local hero Hassan Sadpara, who scaled Mount Everest in May this year, was not expecting the government to forget him so soon.
The 48-year-old Pakistani climber from Sadpara village became the second Pakistani to ascend the highest mountain in the world. When the mountaineer made the courageous journey to the top of the highest mountain without a supply of oxygen, the government promised to donate 10 kanals of land to him in recognition of his feat. But the reward is yet to be handed over to the mountaineering hero.
“If I had been the son of an influential man, my name would have been written in the Guinness Book of World Records,” the disappointed climber told The Express Tribune, adding that he has not received any of the promised reward.
Although the Gilgit Baltistan government gave him a warm welcome and appointed him as a Grade V police instructor in recognition of his achievement, Sadpara feels a more special prize could have been meted out. ”What can I say?” he asked. “Is this job a worthy reward for a national hero?” he asked.
Sadpara has also not forgotten the cold shoulder extended to him by the federal government after his arrival in Pakistan in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid in Abbottabad. “Nobody other than the chief minister of Gilgit Baltistan came to receive me at the airport,” said Sadpara who is as destitute today as he was before his feat.
Inspired by his father, Sadpara started his mountaineering carrier back in 1996 when he was 33. Now nearing 50 and a father of four, he says he is as fit as he was 15 years ago and despite the anticlimax, remains enthusiastic. He dreams of climbing the remaining eight out of the world’s 14 highest peaks, provided he gets financial support.
Sadpara is the only person from Gilgit-Baltistan to have surpassed all the five major peaks in Pakistan including K2 in 1981, Gasherbrum II and Broad Peak in 1982 and Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak) in 1992.
In the aftermath of Sadpara’s achievement, the Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan Mehdi Shah announced that an institute would be set up where mountaineering would be promoted.
But alas, the fate of this announcement, too, hangs in the balance as the chief minister is occupied with the task of expanding his cabinet after the inclusion of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid in the government.