The successful ascent of three climbers to the summit of Nanga Parbat makes this the first winter climb to the top of the ‘Killer Mountain’ this year. Out of the 14 eight-thousanders - the 14 highest independent mountain peaks, all above eight thousand metres - four have at least one side that lies in Pakistan, with a fifth, the Nanga Parbat, lying entirely within Pakistani borders. K2, the second highest peak in the world, and arguably the most dangerous, is included in this list. Every year, many climbers come to Pakistan in the hopes of reaching the summit of one of these peaks during both the winter and the summer. This inflow of foreigners looking to visit the northern areas would be much higher if the added risk of terrorism did not pose a very real threat to those visiting.

The northern areas of Pakistan are unquestionably one of the most beautiful places in the world. The tourism opportunities are endless, but the security situation is such that only the challenge to make it to the top of some of the most challenging mountains on the map still manage to lure serious climbers to Pakistan. After the brutal murder of nine foreign climbers and their Pakistani guide in 2013, it is a wonder that climbers are still ready to take on the added risk of death; albeit a different sort of threat, one they do not prepare for in their training to take on the mountains. If Pakistan can ensure the safety of tourists that visit, even those that have no intention to scale mountains will come in droves on the basis of the scenic beauty alone. Our northern areas offer what few other countries do, unparalleled beauty, in parts untouched by man-made constructs. Pakistan possesses all the right ingredients to make tourism one of its most successful industries; with the monetary benefit also extending to the areas visited and the people that love there. The benefits of this cannot be overstated, but sadly the dream of a country open to all looking to visit is one that is still far from fruition.