ISLAMABAD - A jam-packed house witnessed the inauguration of 'Italian Science and Cooperation at the Shadow of K2' with the opening of Filippo de Filippi photo exhibition 'Rediscovering the Abode of Snow' and the international mountain film festival here at National Art Gallery on Monday.

The Ev-K2-CNR Committee and the Karakorum International University (KIU) in the framework of the SEED Project have organised a series of events in Islamabad and Skardu to celebrate and underline the development of the bilateral cooperation between Italy and Pakistan.

On Tuesday (today), a daylong scientific conference would be arranged in which the scientists from different parts of the country would take part and deliberate on the issues confronting the glaciers, water and ecosystems in the Karakorum.

In his keynote speech, the president of the Ev-K2-CNR Agostino da Polenza said, "The Italians have been working in the Karakorum for 100 years, having inherited Professor Desio's dreams and scientific planning the Ev-K2-CNR on its way to explore, research and mainstream the issues of the Karakorum.

Agostino said, "The Karakorum mountain range including the Baltoro have all the superlative features that make us loved the giant mountains. The features include size, strength, verticality, harmony, shape, colour, and light, to the unique majesty of K2."

Federido Bianchi, Head of the Cultural Affairs at the Italian Embassy, said, "The Karakorum Range and the K2 have been familiar names in Italy for very long time. It was 1909 when the Duke of Abruzzi, the son of our then King, crossed the Karakoram, creating an ideal bridge between our two countries. Since then, many other Italian scientists, explorers and mountaineers came to the region."

Bianchi said, "Today, as Italy and Pakistan enjoy excellent bilateral relations, the Italian government, within its portfolio of development programmes worth over 226 million euros, has decided to fund different activities in the mountainous areas of Pakistan."

The Vice Chancellor KIU Dr Najma Najam said the SEED project initiatives would translate sustainability for the future generations in the Gilgit-Baltistan. The KIU in partnership with the Ev-K2-CNR is setting up new tradition of working relationship based on the scientific research to protect the natural resource base.

Sameena Baig, Pakistan's first woman mountaineer who scaled the Mount Everest just a few months back, inaugurated the film festival. Speaking on the occasion, Sameena Baig said, "Mountains are life for the people living there, and in the plains and downstream by providing water and ecological services. They are huge to fascinate us and challenge our courage, but there are no opportunities for the young to explore the snow covered natural habitats on the mighty glaciers and on the peaks of sky-touching mountains." Baig appreciated the EVK2CNR, the SEED project and the KIU for arranging this mega event for the public awareness in Pakistan.