Samar Khan is a young lady of many talents. She is interested in adventure sports such as paragliding, trekking, and mountain climbing. However it’s her love for cycling/mountain-biking that has given her and Pakistan worldwide recognition, as she has been involved in some very exciting expeditions.
Wanting to know her views and a little about her upcoming ‘Summer Challenge’, House of Pakistan caught up with her:
Q.1 How does it feel not to be the first Pakistani but to be the first woman in the world to have cycled on the Biafo Glacier?
Samar Khan: It feels amazing as I struggled and brought the innovation in conventional cycling. Also no such activity was ever done before despite having the longest glaciers and highest peaks in Pakistan. All we ever hear is about foreign adventurers and their achievements.
Biafo was a tough trek in terms of geographical conditions, unpredictable weather and rough terrain, so putting the green flag in the list of adventurers was a challenging task which I wanted to achieve. After my successful venture of Biafo Glaciers, majority of people within and outside of Pakistan knew about our mountain ranges and its significance. And the thing that makes me feel proud that it was achieved by a ‘female’ mountain-biker and that too from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; which is considered the most conservative and backward region of Pakistan.
Q.2 What was the inspiration behind wanting to cycle up Africa’s Highest Peak?
Samar Khan: Before the expedition of Kilimanjaro, I had set few records in Pakistan for promoting sports, tourism and encouraging females. However many questions were raised by the mountaineering community about the authenticity and credibility of my adventures despite my sharing the videos, pictures and day to day updates on my social media. The government officials I approached couldn’t say a single word in my support being under pressure. In fact, I had submitted all the proofs but didn’t get any response or certification from them. All these circumstances led me to an international level and I converted all the rejections and useless criticism to fuel my passion. In that way I could represent my country internationally and could also prove the real worth of a Pakistani female athlete and what is she capable of. And I am highly thankful to Pakistan Army (ISPR) who supported and trusted my vision, as well as making my path easier for attempting such a record.
Q.3 What do you think you have achieved through your endeavors?
Samar Khan: Through such endeavors, I have always wanted to bring respect to ‘Sports’ which it truly deserves. For a long time I have been witnessing the discrimination and neglectful attitude of the government officials and respective federations towards athletes, as the basic inclination is towards ‘Cricket’. However equal projection should be given to other sports categories as well in order to uplift and empower.
That’s why I chose adventure sports and not conventional, being an independent sports person I took the responsibility to inspire people and show them the real heroes of Pakistan and how devotedly our athletes put in immense effort for the sake of their country. So media, government and corporate sector should sponsor such athletes and give them the regard they deserve so that none of them ends up being a mechanic, waiter or rickshaw driver in their old age.
Q.4 Are you involved in any social initiatives?
Samar Khan: Yes, being a nature lover I always tried to play my part in conservation of natural habitats, creating awareness and inspiring youth. And I am happy that besides an adventure athlete, I am also a motivational speaker who is trying to maximize the impact of her work and bringing real change through her voice as well. I also conduct public expeditions with minimal charges to involve general public in sports and healthy activities.
Q.5 What awareness about climate change have you been able to create?
Samar Khan: One of the major tasks besides attempting a successful quest is to document my journey completely and share with the world. The reason behind making such videos and articles is to tell the world how we are impacting our surroundings. At what rate our glaciers are melting which will bring natural calamities. Even at ‘Uhuru peak’, Kilimanjaro the snow is melting at the fastest rate and we’ll no longer be able to see it by 2030. I am designing plantation rides and campaigns to combat such issues and make the general public realize their duties towards nature.
Q.6 Do you document your journeys?
Samar Khan: The beauty of my adventure expeditions is that not only do I physically challenge myself but I get to travel to different places, where I study cultures and experience the lifestyles, food, climate and history. I love to write about it on my social media platforms, which might attract domestic and international tourists to such far flung areas. And I feel proud to share the magnificence of my country with the world that sees Pakistan through electronic media and perceives a totally opposite image about us. Therefore, I feel a huge responsibility of using the power of social media for the right purpose.
Q.7 Tell us briefly about the upcoming event.
Samar Khan: My upcoming event is called ‘Summer Challenge’, which comprises of three days full of sports and adventure. I am taking the general public to Naran from 13th to 15th July, where they will be riding bicycles with me besides other exciting things like rafting, photography and musical night etc. The purpose behind this event is to encourage students and especially girls to get active and make sports part of their lifestyle. Making them healthy is the only way to utilize the full potential of youth for the developing projects.
Q.8 What message would you like to give to Pakistani Youth?
Samar Khan: My only message to Pakistani youth is that, ” discover your passion and hidden talents on time and get busy in utilizing them for the betterment of Pakistan. Only then can you grow as a person and see yourself in the list of achievers. Human body has unlimited potential power, so do not waste it by listening to rejections and criticism; instead make something out of it, like i did. Pakistan Zindabad!