The skiing champion sisters from Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), Amina and Ifrah Wali, didn’t expect that their feat would go unnoticed in the highest official circles as no one, including the prime minister has bothered to give them any attention.
The Wali sisters from Punial Valley in G-B won gold and silver medals for Pakistan in January’s first South Asian Winter Games held in India. They beat contestants from Sri Lanka, Nepal and India in the giant slalom. This is the first time that any Pakistani female athlete has won a medal in the South Asian Games for skiing.
“Winning for Pakistan felt great, especially having won in India, but I am a little disappointed at the muted response in Pakistan,” Amina Wali told The Express Tribune on Saturday.
The sisters were full of praise for the G-B government, but sounded very disheartened with the federal government, “We attempted to meet the prime minister thrice, but to no avail. It has been seven months and we have given up any hope of acknowledgement from the federal government,” said Amina. At the same time, she thanked the G-B government for their positive attitude. “We are thankful to Sadia Danish (advisor to the G-B chief minister) for her encouraging words and awards,” she said.
Still teenagers, the sisters have won more than half a dozen national competitions in G-B’s Naltar valley and Malam Jabbah, Swat. Born in the Gushpur family, the former royal family of Punial in Ghizer District, the Wali sisters excelled at skiing, having spent most of their childhood practicing in the snowy valley.
Besides sports, the sisters have performed exceptionally in academics as well: 18-year-old Amina got 809 marks in her FSc exam, while Ifrah has passed matriculation with a distinction. Their father, Amjad Wali, proudly stated that both girls, despite their participation in games, kept their grades and remained outstanding students.
In the long run, Ifrah hopes to join the army as a software engineer, while Amina aspires to be a doctor.
Most promisingly, in spite of the centre’s disregard for their achievements, the sisters vowed to hold the national flag high in the future as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2011.