LONDON: Vanessa O’Brien, the first British woman to conquer K2 last month, has said that the western media has been responsible for presenting a distorted image of Pakistan by highlighting stereotypes while ignoring the real beauty and diversity of Pakistan.
Vanessa O’Brien, 52, conquered K2 on July 28 and made history in her own right – raising flags of both Pakistan and the United Kingdom.
She brought the flag that was hoisted at K2, the second tallest peak in the world, to Pakistan High Commission in London on Tuesday and presented the Pakistani flag to High Commissioner Syed Ibne Abbas at a reception organised in her honour.
By completing the round-trip journey from the base camp to the summit, Vanessa became the first British woman to conquer K2, 24 years after Jonathan Pratt became the first British male to do so in 1993.
In her remarks at the Pakistani High Commission, Vanessa shared the story of her challenging journey to the top of K2 and spoke about her determination to accomplish the feat.
She fondly narrated how much she was impressed by the people of Pakistan, especially the talented youth, their generous hospitality, the pristine beauty of the mountains and landscape of northern areas, and the economic potential of the country.
Addressing Pakistani media in London, she said she loved the people of Pakistan more than its mountains and peaks.
“Pakistanis are really lovely, humble and hospitable. They are friendly and welcoming. I was able to see in Pakistan that Pakistan is not what we see in western media and how Pakistanis are portrayed in a bad light. Western media doesn’t show the reality of Pakistanis and how good they are. It’s my belief that if you want to know and enjoy the real Pakistan, then you must take a trip to the country and not make your impressions about Pakistan through the eyes of western media,” she said, adding that she went to Hunza, Lahore and Karachi and had a great experience.
She recalled that the last leg of her K2 summit adventure was extremely difficult and tiresome and “it took me 16 hours to complete the last part”.
She added: “It was snowing, winds were blowing at 50mph, weather overall was extremely bad. I had to climb up on a certain route and any diversion could have involved greater risks. It was a worthwhile journey and it was a proud moment to hoist British and Pakistani flags at the top. Technically K2 was a more difficult peak than Everest.”
Syed Ibne Abbas felicitated Vanessa on her singular achievement of becoming the first British woman to summit the K2.
He also commended her indefatigable determination and courage to accomplish this difficult adventure. The High Commissioner thanked Vanessa for telling a positive story about Pakistan and its people and termed her a goodwill ambassador of Pakistan.
He also hoped that Vanessa’s achievement and amazing story would attract many more mountaineers and adventure tourists to Pakistan in the future.
Abbas said that Vanessa was playing the role of Pakistan’s goodwill ambassador. Vanessa O’Brien has already ascended Mount Everest and other top peaks around the globe.