International Mountain Day 2019 Celebrated at Islamabad- Pakistan
The international Mountain Day was celebrated in Islamabad on December 11. The event was jointly organized by Italian Embassy in Islamabad, EvK2CNR (an Italian organization) and UNDP Pakistan. The Chief Guest of the event was H.E. Mr. Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis & Chairman Tourism Coordination Board. Other dignitaries included His Excellency Mr. Stefano Pontecorvo the Ambassador of Republic of Italy to Pakistan, Mr. Ignacio Artaza Resident Representative UNDP Pakistan, Professor Dr. Ata Ullah Shah Vice Chancellor Karakoram International University, government officials, mountaineers, students and a large number of men and women participated in the event. President ECOSF Prof. Manzoor H. Soomro and Assistant Director ECOSF Ghulam Abbas were also among the participants.
Mr. Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari in his speech said that Pakistan is extremely rich in natural beauty with 5 peaks above eight thousand meters. He shared that government is implementing some of mega interventions for the clean and green Pakistan also putting a large emphasis on promotion of tourism in Pakistan including in Gilgit-Baltistan. He appreciated the role of Italian Government in the conservation, eco-tourism and sustainable development, particularly in Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan. He hoped for the continuation of the support in the future.
Earlier, His Excellency Mr. Stefano Pontecorvo welcomed all the guests to the event. He said that the International Mountain Film Festival is the third edition that takes place with the support of Italian Embassy on December 11, which marks International Mountains Day. The Ambassador paid tribute to some national and international mountaineers who lost their lives in pursuit of conquering peaks in GB. He particularly referred to Italian Mountaineers Daniele Nardi and Leonardo Comelli who died on Nanga Parbat in 2018 during a winter expedition. He shed light on the contribution and support of Italian Government in northern Pakistan for last many years.
Mr. Ignacio Artaza, Resident Representative UNDP Pakistan said that the mountains play very important role in the ecosystem. He said that the mountains are a major source of fresh water and also provide habitat to a variety of wildlife. He further stated that UNDP is working in the mountain regions in Pakistan including in Gilgit-Baltistan where they are partnering with the Italian government in implementing number of initiatives.
Mr. Maurizio Gallo paid a tribute to the late Italian mountaineers Daniele Nardi and Leonardo Comelli who died on Nanga Parbat. He presented a summary of their mountaineering endeavors.
Mr. Ashiq Ahmad Khan, Scientific Representative, EvK2CNR gave an overview of the biodiversity, protected areas of Pakistan, measures taken towards the conservation, gaps and the way forward. He recommended for declaring the entire Gilgit-Baltistan as a biosphere reserve/protected landscape with various relevant interventions involving all related institutions.
Mr. Arif Hussain Technical Representative EvK2CNR said that the close ties between Italy and Pakistan dates back to 1954 when K2 was first conquered by the Italian expedition led by Mr. Ardito Desio. He said that various very significant interventions in GB particularly in CKNP and DNP are supported by the Italian Government whereby thousands of KGs of waste from mountains and glaciers has been removed besides many other activities that focus on livelihood improvement and conservation implemented by EvK2CNR.
The best films on mountains were screened in the event while also playing the mountain music from Gilgit-Baltistan that earned a lot appreciation from the participants.