For those who have not had a chance to visit the snow-clad lofty peaks in the Karakoram, Himalayas and Hindu Kush ranges in Gilgit-Baltistan, a festival that kicked off at the National Art Gallery on Monday offered the opportunity to learn about the unique culture, life and the ecosystem of the mountains.
Pakistan is home to over a dozens highest mountains in the world. To mark the International Mountain Day, oil paintings by girl students from the twin cities’ schools captured mountain peaks with terrace fields and river. The six best paintings were given prizes.
“To be honest not many of us have visited the northern areas, but when asked to paint we all imagined what it would be like. Maybe it’ll be more beautiful than we imagined” said Saira Khan, a student of the Islamabad College for Girls.
Stalls had been set up to entice visitors with traditional Hunza handicrafts like hand-knitted bags, cushion covers and door bells complete with neon-coloured cross-stitch and precious stones.
But since the majority of those present were women, they crowded around a stall overflowing with ethnic silver and metal jewellry embedded with semi-precious stones.
Most girls painted the mountains without ever having visited the highlands. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID
Famed mountaineer Nazir Sabir and Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation Managing Director Shahjahan Khetran inaugurated the three-day festival.
Speaking on the occasion, Sabir said, “I’m extremely happy to see an event to celebrate our mountains and more than anything else we must pay homage to the people living there and dealing with the forces of nature.” The mountains are God’s masterpiece creations.
PTDC Managing Director Shahjehan Khetran said, the festival aims to highlight the climate change threats, conservation of biological diversity and forests and to showcase the culture and ecosystem of mountains.
PNCA Director General Tauqeer Nasir said, “It is an opportunity to highlight the opportunities and challenges in mountain development and to build partnerships that will positively impact the world’s mountains and highlands”.
The event was organised by the Development Communications Network (DEVCOM-Pakistan) in collaboration with the Ev-K2 CNR, the SEED project of the governments of Italy and Pakistan, ICIMOD, Gojal Educational and Cultural Association.
(With additional input from APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2012.