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12 July 2000


Rajab is a famous climber, who has scaled all five of Pakistan’s challenge peaks, and won the prestigious Presidential Award. During this testimony he shares some of his extensive experience of mountaineering and tourism. He explains how he became involved in climbing, as well as talking about training he has given to other young men in the community. “I have a dream that I want to give the young men from the area a chance and training so that they could get greater success than I did in this line…I want to have some students…who should work hard in acquiring more professionalism in this particular field and with their success they can earn a good name for their village area and country.”

He talks positively about the benefits of tourism, explaining that not only has it brought income but that also “you work with people from various countries and learn many things from them”. He discusses the need to attract more tourists to the village. However, he acknowledges that there have also been problems. He not only mentions the possible bad influence of visitors who “drink [alcohol] and use drugs” but also expresses concern about the hard work of the porters, explaining that there is a need to reduce the weight of the loads they carry across the high passes. He feels that once the road comes, and with it more tourists, they will be in a better position to negotiate for improved working conditions.

Although the jobs generated by tourism are welcomed, Rajab is worried about young men who abandon their education for work as porters: “what I dislike is that these young boys from the village… leave their education and carry loads for foreigners.” He concludes by saying: “If they acquire education then whatever they do, be it a farmer or a herder or whatever, they will be successful, because education shows one the right path.”

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Interviewer explains purpose of the interview. How Rajab became involved in tourism and climbing: “I initially joined some foreign trekkers. I got fascinated by it and felt that this could be something I should assume as profession and sport in the future.” Climbing: “it is a hard and risky job but you can get recognition and a comparatively good income.” Explains his hopes to give other young men the chance to pursue climbing as a career.
Section 2  Advice to young climbers: “they should adopt a very enduring and cautious behaviour…they should always remain with team spirit and help the group they are working for.” His own work in helping potential young climbers from the village: “I have conducted training for them twice to voluntarily train them in climbing and safety techniques. I think many of the participants have benefited from those trainings and they have successfully climbed many mountains.”
Section 3  There are 14-15 good climbers in Shimshal: “I think it is a big achievement for a small village to produce such a large number of climbers who have climbed challenge peaks and earned international fame.” Impact of tourism: “There are many kinds of benefits from tourism…You work with people from various countries and learn many things from them…secondly there comes a lot of change in your house in your income, because we go with them and earn from them.” Possible negative affects of tourism.
Section 4  Importance of clean-up expeditions. The Presidential Award: “Money is something that comes and goes but the awards and certificates I have received are valuable for my family and me.” The loss of his son in a mountain accident has stopped him earning an income from tourism. Belief that the road will bring increasing numbers of tourists to Shimshal. Dependence of Shimshal on tourism: “we are not very educated and few people are working in other fields.” Experience of portering: “there is too much suffering and difficulty in working as a porter.” Suggests that the weights carried at high altitudes should be reduced.
Section 5  Concern that increasing their demands might lose work for porters from Shimshal: “in Nagar area they had a lot of tourists but they increased the porter rates. Because of that tourists have changed their route and instead of going from the Nagar side they have started entering from Skardu.” Believes that once the road reaches the village “we can effectively impose rules and regulations for portering”. Why he had to work as a porter: “a person can’t be [born] a climber or brave, these all come through experience… I initially started with portering because I am a farmer…because of that I have travelled in the mountains and acclimatised to the high altitude.”
Section 6  Mountains he has climbed so far: “There are five big peaks of [above] 8000 [metres] in Pakistan. So I have climbed all five of them, and a few of them twice.” Concern about the young giving up education to work in tourism. Many tourists go to the Skardu area. There is a need to “cooperate with tour operators and companies to divert people towards our area”.
Section 7  Hopes his children will continue studying: “If my son gets an education and on the basis of education comes into tourism that would be very good…We entered this field on our physical qualities, if anyone comes in through education that would be very good. That would be respectable.” Young Liaison officers from the Punjab have been unable to acclimatise, “But my students [are so strong] that if they want to climb they can reach the summit.”
Section 8  Family background; his father was relatively wealthy (in livestock). Rajab wanted to become educated but his father was not in favour. He tried to join the army but his family tricked him into returning to Shimshal. Transportation of goods when he tried running a shop in Shimshal.
Section 9-10  Good and bad events in his life - being awarded the Presidential Award, and losing his son: “when I lost my son that was the most dreadful event for me and I lost courage too.” Recalls being attacked by a mysterious unidentified animal in his youth. Suggestions for future generations: “they should live with cooperation in the homeland (village) and they should try to make their best efforts to acquire education.”