No mountain high enough for my sister: Mirza Ali

Published: June 4, 2013
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Mountaineers Samina Baig and Mirza Ali. PHOTO: APP

Mountaineers Samina Baig and Mirza Ali. PHOTO: APP

KARACHI: 

“No woman needs the support of a man – not even to climb the highest peak of the world,” says Mirza Ali, brother of mountaineer Samina Baig. “I want to let Pakistan know that if I can empower my sister to summit the highest peak of the world, they should also let their women pursue any goal they want to.”

Sharing his thoughts in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, during a stopover at the Jinnah International Airport, Mirza elaborated on how he was determined to let his sister climb the mountain without any support.

On May 19, 2013, Samina Baig, 22, became the first Pakistani woman to have ever scaled Mount Everest. Their expedition – ‘First Pakistani Gender Equality Mt Everest (8,848m) Expedition’ – had the primary goal of fostering gender equality and empowering women.

It’s for this very reason that Mirza turned back at 8,600 metres, just 248 metres shy of conquering the summit. This was his way of declaring to the world that women are just as capable as men.

Samina speaks

Greeted at the airport by a swarm of reporters, an elated Samina, dressed in a traditional shalwar kameez, said that her achievements made her ‘very happy’. She added that the entire crew was very supportive and she is proud to have been part of a team that conveyed the message of gender equality.

All the while, Ali stands behind his sister, a gentle smile playing on his face, completely confident with the spotlight being on her instead of on him.

The tale of the trek

The siblings hail from a village called Shimshal in Upper Hunza, which borders China and has a literacy rate of 100%. Located deep in the Karakoram Range, Ali has been climbing mountains for 12 years, and Samina for four.

Ghulam Hussain, a paternal cousin of the siblings and the only family member present to greet them – with a rose in each hand – said Samina comes from a liberal family that not only encourages girls to study, but pushes them to achieve their dreams. He said many girls in Hunza climb mountains and are facilitated by the Shimshal Mountaineering School.

‘On our own’

Ali, who was Samina’s trainer and guide, said his sister received two months of rigorous stamina training before the expedition. The entire mission cost Rs10million, but the duo received no help from the Pakistani government.

Aside from medication, which was provided by Dr Mohammed Amjad of Reeds Pharma, the expenditure was only possible with aid from New Zealand.

Although the siblings expressed remorse over the fact that their own government did not provide them with any assistance to accomplish their mission, they humbly requested the government to now step up and support them.  Ali runs The Youth Outreach Program, through which he aims to empower women to climb mountains.

“Support us,” implored Ali candidly. “Help us empower our women.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Bisma
    Jun 4, 2013 - 11:34AM

    Well done Samina Baig, You make us proud!
    Wish more women would start believing in their abilities, all they need is little encouragement and support from their families….sky is the limit.

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  • Fareeha
    Jun 4, 2013 - 11:57AM

    What a great achievement Samina, So proud of you. and what a great brother u have…both are role models for our younger generation. The brother never laughed at his sisters dream but encouraged her and stood by her side…Way to go.

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  • mk
    Jun 4, 2013 - 12:15PM

    extremely proud of both siblings! thank you proud to be a pakistani.

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  • Gemini
    Jun 4, 2013 - 12:16PM

    Lucky sister that she has a brother like Mirza.

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  • satram sangi
    Jun 4, 2013 - 12:17PM

    Thats great achievement and highly appreciable. congrats samina baig.

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  • goggi
    Jun 4, 2013 - 12:53PM

    Pioneers and torchbearers of an emancipated Pakistan. Naya Pakistan without gender equality is a hoax. Heartily congratulations to Samina and Ali from Germany.

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  • Kashif
    Jun 4, 2013 - 1:01PM

    Proud feeling as a pakistani and nation salutes you for this big achievement.

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  • Ajaz
    Jun 4, 2013 - 1:15PM

    Great Samina and Ali you are the real heros of our nation. We need to encourge this kind of healthy activities in our society which will be the result of a healthy society. I am realy sorry to say that, our media gave very less attention to this great achement of our nationl heros.

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  • Taimoor
    Jun 4, 2013 - 1:19PM

    Well done Samina Baig and Mirza ali, you both have done a great job. This is a great achievement and inspiration for many young climbers.

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  • Asad Shairani
    Jun 4, 2013 - 1:28PM

    Superb!

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  • blaizebob
    Jun 4, 2013 - 2:21PM

    Rather easy on the eyes as well…..

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  • Alami Musafir
    Jun 4, 2013 - 2:49PM

    If our prime minister were as empowered, decisive, visionary and courageous as Samina then Pakistan would also scale the heights. But alas, what we have is an entirely different kettle of fish. Its a great pity that people like Samina are intentionally kept out of politics, to perpetuate neocolonialism and slavery.

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  • SNJ
    Jun 4, 2013 - 5:04PM

    Respect, these women unceasingly making us a proud nation, Bravo!

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  • Jun 4, 2013 - 6:08PM

    It is quite an accomplishment and her name will forever be remembered in the history books. Congratulations to Samina Baig!

    Ali Khan

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  • Zennat Khusro
    Jun 4, 2013 - 7:42PM

    Pakistani women are moving boldly forward, the first Oscar from Hollywood, now this is this proof enough that the mess the nation of Pakistan is due to the males that have run it into the ground may be the only way change can be achieved if women rule in majority & men sit as the conditions of Pakistan improve!

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  • karim shah
    Jun 4, 2013 - 11:04PM

    Brao. keep it up and many congrats

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