Monday was a day of opposite reactions: While President Asif Ali Zardari congratulated Samina Baig and her brother Mirza Ali, the two young mountaineers who successfully scaled the world’s highest peak, lawmakers in the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly session remained strangely mum over the achievement.
In a statement released by the President’s Secretariat on Monday, President Zardari said Baig made the entire nation proud by becoming the first Pakistani woman to climb Everest. He lauded her determination and praised her as a symbol of the great talent and potential of women in the country.
Furthermore, the president paid glowing tributes not just to 21-year-old Baig, but also to her brother Ali, who is 29.
He said their achievement represented the potential of the youth to rise in every field, and underscored the importance of grooming and guiding talented Pakistanis, especially women and the youth, to fully realise their capabilities.
President Zardari expressed hope that the siblings will continue their hard work and keep Pakistan’s flag waving high in the world of mountaineering.
A disquieting silence
Despite the national acclaim, members of the Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly session made absolutely no mention of the siblings’ achievement.
The assembly, dominated by the Pakistan Peoples Party, also remained tight-lipped over the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz victory in the polls.
“The house discussed the former chief secretary Sajjad Hottiana and the role of bureaucracy but didn’t appreciate the achievement of the climbers who are residents of G-B,” said journalist Abdur Rahman Bukhari, also adding that ignoring PML-N’s victory also speaks volumes for the government’s intentions about its opponents.
No small feat
In the past, only two other Pakistani mountaineers, Nazir Sabir and Hassan Sadpara, have scaled Mount Everest.
Baig and Ali, who belong to the small town of Shimshal in the Hunza Valley, scaled the 8,848 metre peak early on Sunday after a gruelling expedition in rough weather.
Karrar Haidri, a member of the executive council of the Pakistan Alpine Club, said Baig had raised Pakistan’s name in the world.” She used her own resources and despite rough weather and fears of an avalanche she never lost courage,” Haidri told AFP. “I sincerely hope that [her] achievement will induce more and more women to join
this sport and help us convince the government to give [us] more funds.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2013.
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