Islamabad - The Serena Hotels celebrated Mount Everest Day 2017 in collaboration with the Embassy of Nepal at Sheesh Mahal hall on Monday.

Over 200 dignitaries including members of the diplomatic corps, government officials and others were present on the occasion. Nepal has been celebrating Mount Everest Day since 2008.

Ambassador of Nepal Sewa Lamsal Adhikari, Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, and Serena Hotels CEO Aziz Boolani inaugurated the event by lighting a traditional Nepalese lamp. Adhikari also presented a letter of appreciation to the summiteers honouring their achievement.

Nazir Sabir, who summited Everest, displayed a documentary which was thoroughly enjoyed by the guests. The documentary showcased the grandeur of the peak, the challenges faced by the mountaineers and their mighty success. Samina Baig who scaled the mountain in 2013 had her exams. She was represented by her brother Mirza Ali who had been part of the Everest expedition.

Boolani while sharing his views said, “It is a great privilege for us to honour the mountaineers who have scaled Mount Everest. We formed the Adventure Diplomacy Initiative to encourage human engagement with nature in ways that test physical prowess, endurance and commitment to facilitate a mountaineer. Serena Hotels has supported the sport since Samina Baig made history on May 19, 2013 by becoming the youngest Muslim woman and first Pakistani woman to reach Mount Everest summit. After she returned from Everest, Serena Hotels founded the Adventure Diplomacy Group in 2014 to help Baig and her brother become the first siblings to climb seven peaks in seven continents.”

“We continue to support talent in Pakistan through various initiatives under cultural diplomacy and sports diplomacy and I thank you for your continued support of our efforts,” he added.

Sabir while addressing the audience said, “I have been fortunate to visit Nepal many times. Our spiritual connectivity because of the Himalayan chain of mountains is very deep. Any climb up a mountain is like a pilgrimage and in mountaineering you climb in the shadow of death for months and every moment is a prayer. The first time I went to Nepal for the Everest summit, we made three attempts and failed. The next time also it took three attempts before I reached the summit.”

Chaudhry, the guest of honour, congratulated the ambassador and people of Nepal on this auspicious occasion. “This is a significant day for promoting mountain tourism in Nepal. Pakistan and Nepal have both been blessed with spectacular mountains and extraordinary historical treasures many of which are world heritage sites. These are treasures that allow us to build our tourism and share the wonders with the rest of the world,” he said.

Adhikari said it was heartening to see so much interest in celebrating this important day. She said it is a special day in the history because in 1953, Mount Everest was scaled for the first time, adding that humans reached the top of the world and since then some 4,000 climbers have reached the peak. “I am told more Pakistanis have planned to climb Mount Everest this year and I wish them the best of luck,” the Nepalese ambassador said.

She went on to reiterate the importance of mountains in the global ecosystems stating that they are the source of water for many. Pakistan and Nepal are privileged to be the custodians of these mountain ranges and must prevent climate change from harming these majestic treasures, she said.