Gilgit-Baltistan: First Female Mountaineer Paid Tribute for Making History

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ISLAMABAD (ET): For the first Pakistani female to put the national flag on top of the world’s highest mountain, praise continues to pour in. Samina Baig made a successful summit of the mighty Everest on May 19.

After their arrival from Kathmandu on June 3, a slews of programmes were held for her and her brother Mirza Ali. Their names have been recommended for various awards and a number of organisations have offered the duo honourary membership.

A reception along the same lines was held at Serena Hotel on Monday for Samina Baig and Mirza Ali by the Regional Council for Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Mardan Areas (RIPMA) and Aga Khan Youth and Sport Board. National Council for Pakistan President Iqbal Walji, Aga Khan University Preisent Dr Firoz Rasul and a US-based philanthropist and investor, Aziz Sharif among others spoke at the event.

After congratulating Samina for creating history by becoming the first Pakistani woman to climb the Everest, Walji also paid rich tributes to her brother for the support and mentorship to Samina to achieve the unprecedented feat.

Dr Rasul said, “We are here to celebrate this historic moment with Samina Baig who brought the laurels for Pakistan with the support of her brother. Samina has become a source of inspiration for the women and girls of Pakistan.”

Similarly, Sharif said, “The joy and pride that Samina has brought to the community and the people of Pakistan can’t be expressed in words.” He asked the audience to give standing ovation to the duo and their father, Khayal Baig, for giving his children the liberty to choose the paths of their lives.

He also announced a cash prize of Rs1 million for Samina and Mirza, as a token of support towards the accomplishment of their future goals. He also promised to arrange a tour of the young mountaineers to Canada.

Samina thanked the organizations and individuals for showering her with love and appreciation. She said that without the support of her brother she may never have been able to summit Everest. Mementos, flags and gifts were also exchanged between Samina Baig and leaders of the community.

Fatima Jinnah and Sitara-i-Imtiaz awards

At a reception by the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) on Tuesday night, its members recommended Samina and her brother Mirza for Fatima Jinnah Award and offered them honorary membership of the club. The ACP officials, however, candidly admitted their failure in fulfilling its responsibilities and achieving its aims for which the ACP was established in 1974. They also accepted their inability in providing assistance to the siblings in their historic mission.

‘No gender discrimination’

Mirza Ali later gave a presentation on his expedition with Samina. He also spoke about his organisation — Pakistan Youth Outreach — set up to promote gender equality. “I don’t condone in any form of gender discrimination,” said Ali.

He also spoke about their meeting with Indian twin sisters. The youth of both India and Pakistan want peace not any tension on borders, he added.

Mirza explained about the concept and objective of the expedition. It was aimed at promoting gender equality and woman empowerment. To prove his claim, he returned from the altitude of 8,700m providing an opportunity to his sister to put her feet on the summit and accomplish her mission alone and prove that woman can do anything without anyone’s help.

Pride of G-B

Speaking at the event arranged by the ACP at the Islamabad Club, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah regretted that no high official from the federal government came to receive Samina at the airport. “I salute the daughter of G-B who made us all proud.” I also salute her father who encouraged his daughter and son to put their lives at risk and make Pakistan proud. He hoped that many more Saminas and Mirzas will come from G-B.

G-B Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah said, “Samina has created a new history given the remoteness and backwardness of her native town, Shimshal.” The valley gave birth to Samina and many top climbers.

Chief Minister’s adviser Sadia Danish said, “Samina and her brother have promoted G-B’s soft image. To acknowledge her achievement we have decided to nominate Samina as goodwill ambassador for tourism.”

Secretary Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Shahidullah Baig also paid tribute to the young mountaineers and said that he had recommended their names for Sitara-i-Imtaiz.

Earlier in his welcome speech, ACP president Col (retd) Manzoor Hussain, said, “We will recommend their names for Fatima Jinnah Award which carries Rs1m cash.”

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