GILGIT: The International Mountain Day went unnoticed across Gilgit-Baltistan on Friday as the newly-formed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government organised no event in the region.

Civil society and environmentalists criticised the government for ignoring the day.

The International Mountain Day is celebrated with the intent to remind people of the ecological importance of the treasures which host about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.

Abid Hussain, an environmentalist, said GB was hub of adventure tourism, world’s highest peaks, including K2, Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat and largest glaciers. He said ignoring to celebrate the day was weakness of the government, pointing out that Prime minister Imran Khan had always emphasised promotion of tourism in GB.

Shakeel Ahmed, an activist, said it was disappointing that the newly-formed PTI government in GB ignored the day.

“Where was the vision of Imran Khan to promote tourism in GB,” he asked.

Ajmal Hussain, a local climber, said the purpose of the mountain day was to understand the importance of mountains in the social life.

“Glaciers give us fresh water; green pastures are the home of myriad wild animals, including snow leopard, markhor etc. Moreover, there are different sports related to mountains such as mountaineering, ice and rock climbing, skiing, trekking that bring love for mountains among youth,” he said. He added that the world must think about the hazards of climate change threatening the mountain ecology.

“Our collective responsibility is to keep clean glaciers and mountains. World depends on the mountains for survival, mountains are our future assets.”

Activist Liaqat Ali said GB mountains and glaciers were under threat from environmental degradation. He said awareness campaigns about glacier melting and environmental degradation should be launched.

However, the University of Baltistan, Skardu, is celebrating a International Mountains Day Week.

Gilgit-Baltistan Mountaineering Council also organised an ice climbing camp in Hunza to mark the day.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2020

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