The government of the Gilgit-Baltistan region has announced it would finance the medical treatment of renowned high-altitude climber Mohammad Karim after his son tried to put a Cristiano Ronaldo-signed t-shirt on sale.
Known as “Little Karim,” the 71-year-old mountaineer holds an international record for climbing Gasherbrum 2 (8,035m) without supplementary oxygen in 1988.
Born in Hushe Valley, Ghanche district, Gilgit-Baltistan, he has also scaled the Gasherbrum-I (8035m) in 1985, and Broad Peak (8048m) in 1986. In the 1970s and 80s, Karim had served as a guide and porter for western tourists on high-altitude expeditions. Three French films have documented his life and career.
A few days ago, Muhammad Hanif, Karim’s son, tried to auction a t-shirt gifted to his father by Ronaldo, as the family is struggling to cover his medical expenses, which amount to about $70 per month.
“My father has been battling liver diseases since 2016,” Hanif told Arab News on Wednesday. “His health is deteriorating for the last seven days and now as we are unable to pay for his treatment. That’s why we have decided to auction the shirt signed and gifted by Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Karim met the Portuguese football star during a trip to Spain in 2018. “I am the king of mountains and Cristiano Ronaldo is the king of football. And my big wish is to meet Ronaldo,” Hanif recalled him as saying during a reception organized by the Spanish government.
“To our surprise, the organizers arranged a meeting with Ronaldo the very next day and we met the Portuguese star! Ronaldo gifted my father his signed shirt.”
Local government offers to help
Soon after a video in which Hanif announced he would auction the jersey went viral, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid took to social media to say the local government would help.
“Little Karim is suffering from liver diseases and the transplant is not possible due to age,” Khurshid said in a tweet on Tuesday. “The government of Gilgit Baltistan will bear all the expenses of the treatment of Little Karim and employment will also be arranged for their children.”
Karim’s children have been struggling with employment since the coronavirus pandemic forced the family’s climbing school to close. The chief minister’s spokesperson, Imtiaz Ali Taj, confirmed to Arab News that they will soon be employed. “Government job will be given for his sons as soon as possible to help them retrieve from the financial crisis,” he said.
Speaking of mountaineers, Sirbaz Khan recently became the first Pakistani to climb nine of the world’s fourteen highest peaks. Shehroze Kashif, another mountaineer, also made the country proud as he became Pakistan’s youngest mountaineer to climb Manaslu, the eighth highest peak in the world.
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