ISLAMABAD: The Ambassador of Nepal in Pakistan Sewa Lamsal Adhikari called for mountains to be protected from the effects of climate change, at an event to mark Mount Everest Day on Tuesday.
“The snow-capped Himalayas are gradually turning into black mountains. Nepal and Pakistan house most of the world’s tallest mountains and both require additional efforts to protect, promote and preserve the sanctity and glory of the mountains, which are vulnerable to negative impacts of deteriorating weather,” Ms Adhikari said.
The day marks 65 years since Mount Everest was first summitted by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.
The ceremony began with guests lighting traditional Nepalese oil lamps called panas. The Nepalese embassy also acknowledged Col Jabbar Bhatti’s successful summit on the 8,848 metre peak on May 21 last year.
Ambassador Adhikari said climate change has created risks for people who live in mountains, as well as the ecosystem, cultural heritage and biodiversity.
“Each year, the snow line is going up. The weather pattern has changed drastically, adding risks and vulnerability not only to mountain climbers but also to the indigenous people,” she said.
She touched on tourism in Nepal, a famous destination for mountaineers, rock climbers and adventure-seekers.
She described the country as a land of rich ancient temples and shrines, and natural and cultural heritage blessed with natural beauty. A documentary on tourism in Nepal was also screened.
Foreign Affairs Special Secretary Aitzaz Ahmad, who was invited as the chief guest, began his speech with a plea to save the mountains.
“Same as Nepal, Pakistan offers much in the area of tourism. We are custodians of ancient civilisations like Taxila and Mohenjodaro. We are home to the world’s highest mountains and glaciers, lakes and breathtaking valleys. We need to be mindful of the challenges of climate change. We must establish meaningful cooperation to mitigate its impacts and preserve natural heritages,” he said.
He said Pakistan was proud of its mountaineers who have climbed Mount Everest: Nazir Sabir, Samina Baig and Mr Bhatti.
Retired Col Abdul Jabbar Bhatti said at the event that he had dreamed of climbing Mount Everest 40 years ago, when he saw the mountain for the first time at the age of 20.
In 2016, he began planning and sponsors supported his preparations to climb the mountain, he said. A short documentary that captured his journey was screened at the event as well.
“I would climb Mount Everest again any given day,” he said, lamenting that there were far fewer climbers in Nepal and Pakistan, even though both countries have some of the highest peaks in the world as well as thousands of smaller ones.
“Both countries need to encourage mountain sports – especially mountaineering,” Mr Bhatti said.
Serena Hotels CEO Aziz Boolani said the event to celebrate Mount Everest was inspired by Samina Baig, the youngest Pakistani woman to summit the mountain.
Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2018