Another mountain and another Pakistani has done the country proud through a feat of superhuman strength. Shehroze Kashif, a 19-year-old from Lahore, has managed to become the youngest Pakistani ever to summit the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest. He joins a very exclusive club of Pakistanis who have managed to summit the world’s tallest mountain. Pakistan, which hosts five of the 14 mountains which are higher than 8,000 metres, including the world’s second-highest peak in K2, has continuously produced talented and dedicated climbers for decades now. Among the most well-known of them are Nazir Sabir as well as late Hassan Sadpara and late Ali Sadpara (not related).
These are individuals who have been consumed with a passion for the mountain, to reach summits and enjoy a view reserved only for those who have dared and those who have overcome not just their will but also the limitations of their bodies to go where people normally do not venture. Some of these brave souls, however, have paid for their passions with their lives. The memory of losing Ali Sadpara, a brave but gentle soul who was fuelled by his dreams to raise the Pakistani flag on the summit of the country’s highest point and in doing so claim a record, is still quite fresh.
Perhaps it is time to remind the government of its duty to improve the situation for climbing and mountaineering in Pakistan — from the foreigners who bring in precious foreign exchange to encouraging local climbers who require just a little support on top of their bubbling passion. As Shehroze catches his breath and ‘thaws’ his frostbitten toes in Kathmandu, perhaps Islamabad can reflect on how its SAARC brotherly country approaches and even champions adventure tourism, building its tourism push around mountaineering.
After all, it was a matchless sign of unity by 10 Nepali sherpas who marched up the slopes of K2 earlier this year to mount a successful combined winter summit of the world’s second tallest mountain. The first by humankind. Let’s learn to be better and honour our talented youth.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2021.