International Skiers Say Pakistan Is ‘Getting Better Every Year’

In this picture taken on January 29, 2019, Ukrainian skier Anastasia Gorbunova takes part in the CAS Karakoram International Alpine Ski Cup, at the Pakistan Air Force-owned and operated Naltar Ski Resort, some 25km north of Gilgit in Pakistan’s remote mountainous north. – Dozens of skiers in late January took part in a rare international competition in Pakistan, which boasts some of the world’s highest mountains but remains off-piste for most winter sportsmen due to years of insecurity and lack of infrastructure. The Naltar Ski Resort in the Karakoram mountain range where the competition took place is at the heart of Pakistan’s attempts to build up its winter sports tourism industry. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP)

“Pakistan has a lot of things to learn but with every year it’s getting better” – says Anastasiia Gorbunova, a skier hailing from Ukraine, enjoying her voyages in the scenic beauty of Pakistan.

She says that like any foreign tourist, she was equally the target of media profiling and Western propaganda, that made her think Pakistan is ‘dangerous’. Out of all the things she experienced here, Anastasiia cannot help but appreciate the love and hospitality of the people. She expressed these views speaking to a local news outlet, saying that the people here try their best to comfort you and assure you feel like you are at home – which adds to the pleasant experience.

After years of operations and crackdown on militant groups, the areas are attracting more and more tourists. Another resort has been opened nearby Swat Valley after years of closure due to insurgent activities. With that, other ski facilities have also been developed all across the country.

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A representative of the International Ski Federation with the Azerbaijan team, Laura Moore, said ‘Pakistan boasted unrivalled ski conditions’.

“I think it’s definitely more for the adventurer” –  Moore said.

Skiers attending the glorious Naltar event were hosted by the PAF (Pakistan Air Force). PAF owns the ski resort and also facilitated their transport from the capital Islamabad.

However, she said that lengthy roads and challenging weather conditions are making skiing a little tricky, however, the experience is adventurous overall. Berkin Usta, a Turkish skier who won the men’s Grand Slalom event, says that Pakistan sky-kissing mountains is what makes it an attraction for passionate skiers.

“Not all countries have mountains like this. It’s really good.” – she said.

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