The lofty peak of Everest witnessed ‘height’ of Indo-Pak friendship on Sunday when two sets of siblings from both countries reached there almost together.
Twin sisters Tashi and Nungshi Malik from Dehradun in India and Samina Baig and her brother Mirza Ali from Hunza Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan reached the summit (8,848 m) at 7:30am (Nepali time) and hoisted flags of both nations side by side.
“We made it to the top at 7:30am. Icing on the cake: Our Pakistani friends Samina and Mirza too made it with us,” the twins wrote on their Facebook page Mountaineers for Peace.
Tashi and Nungshi, 21, created a record by becoming the first set of twin sisters to reach the highest peak. Baig, 21, also made it to the record books by becoming the first Pakistani woman to scale Everest.
It was no coincidence that both sets of siblings reached the peak at the same time. They were part of the same expedition and had planned to make a statement from the top.
“We will attempt to host our national flags on Everest to mark our unflinching resolve to work for peace between our two nations,” they wrote on the social networking site ahead of the push to the peak.
The girls, who became good friends while preparing for the ascent and getting acclimatized to the weather conditions, also wanted to highlight gender inequality in both the South Asian nations.
“Our women face similar gender challenges. Let’s fight them together. If our women progress, our societies will. And peace is assured,” Samina, Tashi and Nungshi wrote.
Daughters of an army officer, the twins who recently did their graduation in journalism and mass communication have completed several courses at Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (Uttarkashi).
They had successfully scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, last year, before deciding to challenge Everest.
Both have a Nepali connection as well. Their mother’s ancestors had migrated to India from Pyuthan in Nepal and the sisters can speak Nepali fluently.
Samina’s inspiration to climb mountains seems to have come from her brother Mirza, 29, who had scaled the peak earlier and was the second Pakistani to have achieved that distinction.
Meanwhile, the rush to the peak continued unabated on Monday with a total of 342 climbers reaching the summit this season.
“Forty three foreigners and 51 Nepali support staff scaled the peak on Monday,” informed Tilak Pandey, an official of Nepal’s tourism ministry.