International Mountain Day
A number of exciting activities were held in the city on the eve of International Mountain Day with intent to share knowledge among the people about the importance of mountains. Pakistan is home to some of the world’s highest mountains and most magnificent mountain ranges: Himalayas, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Sulaiman, Salt range. Sadly, these long glorified mountains now face the tragedy of being most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.
“We have the world’s highest peaks but there is no proper promotion of adventure tourism and mountaineering in Pakistan”, underlined Nazir Sabir, Pakistan’s famed mountaineer, reminding of the dismal fact.
While insisting for proper measures to promote mountaineering, he added: “World Mountain Day is an occasion to mobilize resources to improve the livelihoods of mountain communities by creating liaison between stakeholders and institutions.” To create a national level advocacy towards conservation and promotion of the mountains, Pakistan Mountain Festival was arranged in Islamabad, jointly organized by DEVCOM-Pakistan, ICIMOD, EvK2-CNR and the SEED project.
The festival began with a vibrant exhibition, artwork display by students, at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA). About 50 paintings on display reflected the understanding of students on the environmental and climate change issues confronting the highlands. Raffaele Del Cima, SEED Director, urged for research oriented development practices in the mountain regions. “The fast changing climate is putting the food security at risk; if the climate change phenomenon is not studied properly it would risk the lives of millions downstream and in the highlands” he cautioned.
“International Mountain Day is an opportunity to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to the world’s mountains and highlands” said Mir Shahjahan Kethran, Managing Director of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, speaking on the occasion.
“Mountains are our most cherished heritage that needs to be protected accordingly” said Tauqir Nasir, DG of PNCA. He hoped that the art exhibit would help educate the masses about the mountain culture. A small bicycle ride, dedicated to the International Mountain Day, would also be arranged in the city on Tuesday (Dec. 11) by Critical Mass Islamabad, a group of youngsters led by Rana Atif-Rehman. The ride would start from F-7 Markaz and go all the way to Daman-e-Koh, to promote cycling culture in cities.
Pakistan Mountain Festival is aimed at engendering a balanced blend of action at local level and national level towards conservation and promotion of the mountains to make it responsibility of every Pakistani, said Munir Ahmed, principal organizer of the festival.