BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
GILGIT: International Mountain Day was organised in Gilgit under the theme “Promoting Mountain Products for better livelihoods”.
Attended by people from different walks of life including academia, government departments, civil society organization and media, experts in the seminar highlighted numerous functions and services of mountain ecosystems of the world in general and of Gilgit-Baltistan – the home and junction of world three largest mountain ranges; The Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindu Kush in particular.
According to a press release, this year WWF-Pakistan, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), GB Tourism Department, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), Karakoram International University (KIU), FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, Gilgit-Baltistan Association of Tour Operators (GBATO) and Serena Hotel Gilgit joined hands to celebrate International Mountains Day by organizing a seminar on Mountains: “Promoting Mountain Products for better livelihoods” at Gilgit.
The United Nations General Assembly has declared 11th December as the International Mountain Day to raise awareness on importance of mountains to life.
Khadim Hussain, Secretary Agriculture, livestock and Fisheries and Sajjad Haider, Secretary Forest, Wildlife and Environment were the guests on the occasion. They applauded the efforts of the organizers for showcasing significance of mountains for inhabitants of GB, for providing life sustaining goods and services. They also highlighted the policies on which Gilgit-Baltistan provincial government is working in collaboration with the line government and non-government organizations for the improvement of local livelihoods.
Welcoming the audience, Dr. Babar Khan, regional head WWF-Pakistan (Gilgit-Baltistan) said, “the world mountainous ranges, spread over 24% of the earth’s surface and supporting about 26% of the global population, are facing ecological destruction, creating serious implications for human being, often poorest and highly vulnerable people in the world. He added that the mountainous landscapes of GB are the primary watersheds of Indus River and almost 75% of water into Indus River System is contributed by its tributaries including Shango, Shyok, Shigar, Hunza, Hisper, Ghizer and Astore, originating from the mountains of GB.
“Tourism sector of Gilgit-Baltistan in the presence of the highest concentration of peaks such as K-2, Gaserbrum-I, Gasherbrum-II, Broad Peak and Nanga Parbat possesses huge potentials for economic upliftment, not only in Gilgit-Baltistan but entire Pakistan” said by Yasir Hussain, Director Tourism. For this purpose “the tourism department, though newly established in Gilgit-Baltistan in 2006 has taken important steps like developing tourism policy for the region”, he added. He emphasized to brand Gilgit-Baltistan as the “Jewel of Pakistan” to portray the natural beauty of this area.
Dr. Abdul Wahid Jasra, Country Representative ICIMOD-Pakistan shared the message of Dr. David Molden, Director General ICIMOD. He added that Gilgit-Baltistan being the home of mountains has great varieties of mountain products; like mountain agriculture, livestock, gems and tourism. There is a need to build capacity of local people to get the most out of the mountain products.
Miss. Yasmeen Qalander, Manager Institutional Development AKRSP in her speech emphasized on sustainable promotion of mountain products for the improvement of livelihoods and also highlighted the role of AKRSP in initiating various programmes in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral for the betterment of mountain communities.
A community panel discussion on themes like; mountain products, hazards, vulnerabilities and risks, community conservation initiatives, trans-boundry challenges and cultural tourism for local livelihoods, was also organized in which panellist from different communities of Gilgit-Baltistan shared their experiences and responded to the questions from the participants. Students from The Educators and Star Kids Montessori, presented tableaus and skits showing mountain inspirations on the occasion.
Faisal Qayum Khan, General Manager, Serena Hotel Gilgit thanked the audiences for being part of the successful IMD 2015 celebration.