LAHORE-Naila Kiani is the first Pakistani female mountaineer, who has to her credit, climbing three 8000ers in Pakistan, the savage K2 Mountain 8,611meters, Gasherbrum-I 8,080meters and Gasherbrum-II 8,035meters. With pride she stated, her next target is to climb Mount Everest in Nepal and Nanga Parbat in Pakistan. 

Naila, who was a banker by profession and quit the job for her passion, became the first Pakistani woman to summit K2 in July 2022, in her first attempt, within a year after starting her mountaineering career. 

In an interview with The Nation, Naila said: “Whatever I have achieved so far is a result of a long struggle in my life, which I continued till my last success and will continue throughout my life. One thing worth sharing about myself is that I am mentally very strong and this has always helped me stay focused on achieving my goals. 

“I am very blessed and thankful to Allah Almighty for summiting K2 in my first attempt. My guide Ali Sadpara also played a key role in helping me make my dream come true. Soon after scaling K2, I climbed Gasherbrum-I (8,080m) which is also one of the toughest peaks to climb. It is just the beginning and the sky is limit for me, as I have planned to scale the remaining two 8,000 meters plus peaks, including Nanga Parbat and Broad Peak, for which I am geared up and waiting for the right time to climb them.” 

Sharing her life story about mountains and mountaineering, Naila said: “I passionately love mountains and feel blessed to spend time with them. I visited K2 basecamp in 2018 to celebrate my marriage ceremony. I met a few mountaineers there, who inspired me and I was invited to climb a 7,000 meters mountain. I was expecting a baby then so planned to climb a mountain during my maternity leave from work. 

“I started doing research on the five 8,000 meters plus peaks and it took me two years to thoroughly study them and to make my mind up to finally start climbing them. I became the first Pakistani woman to summit an 8,000m peak in Pakistan,” she asserted. 

When Naila, who is also a boxer, a rock climber and a mountaineer, was asked whether she is willing to play other sports after completion of her set goals in mountaineering, she replied: “My full focus is now on completing my mission of climbing five peaks in Pakistan and two in Nepal. After achieving this feat, I have a plan to play golf and see where that takes me. “I met Dr. Asma Shami, whose passion for golf inspired me. She took no time in convincing me to take up golf. I made up my mind to adopt this beautiful game soon after achieving my set goals in mountaineering.”

Naila Kiani also expressed her gratitude to BARD Foundation for sponsoring her in making her dreams come true. “I am grateful to my sponsors Bard Foundation for supporting me in the tough times and it was just because of their all-out support that gave me more courage and motivation to continue to pursue my targets and earn more distinctions and feats for my beloved country.” 

Reflecting back, Naila contemplated: “I did my bachelors in Aerospace Engineering from England. Most recently, I was offered many opportunities of lucrative jobs but I felt a void within me. There must be something bigger than earning a hefty pay packet. I turned them all down and thought to myself that there is more to life than earning money and I want to prioritise bringing honour to my country. It is time to pay back to my country a minuscule portion of what I had received. 

“Mountaineering gave me the purpose in life to do something for my country. The fondest memory of my life is, when I stood on the peak of K2 and held the green flag close to my chest, I felt as if I had realised the purpose of living. I finally felt the ultimate pride in bringing honour to my country, to my Pakistan!”