A word in support of Greg Mortenson

Muhammad Khaliq 

In the last few days the media has created a furore about Greg Mortenson’s stories. Surprisingly these are comments by people who have never been to the areas about which he writes nor have they seen the projects he has completed; they have quite unjustly tried through their negative comments to put down a great man. It seems to me that the people who have commented on the blogs about him are shooting in the dark, perhaps in the hope that they will gain some kudos. In fact the kudos should go to the one who has managed to provide hope in the lives of those so much less fortunate than us.

To me he is a courageous, honest and hard working philanthropist who has achieved amazing results through the sound practices of his Institute. I am not just supporting him for the sake of support; I have seen personally the projects he has established. I was trekking in Baltistan in 2000 where I saw Korphe, and Hushe schools with my own eyes; I talked with the locals and they were really thankful for the work he had done to enhance the lives of the young people in their area.

In Afghanistan when I was working with the Aga Khan Foundation, I visited Sarhad Broughill in 2005. I was surprised to see a well constructed and furnished school, which possessed a local cultural touch. People who have been to Afghanistan and have worked there will understand how difficult it is to initiate such a project in these remote areas and will pay their respects for what has been achieved. In Sarhad the school which was a CAI project was the first building to be constructed to a high standard ever seen in this area. I bear witness to the fact that in the spring of 2005 in the same valley of Wakhan in Afghanistan when an avalanche destroyed a school building it was the Central Asia Institute and its employees who were the first to come to support the school and the locals; the Institute provided the school with tents and later reconstructed the school building.

I have read both the books which Mortenson has written; it would appear to me that whatever he has discussed within the framework of his writings must be based on truth,that is the truth as Greg Mortenson saw at the time. Fortunately through my work and because of the time spent I have spent in Afghanistan I have met most of the people he mentioned in his books; I have been to the places he sites and have seen the projects he and his institute have completed. It is my opinion that as far as maintaining the projects or running the schools and clinics is concerned, philanthropists may give aid, establish schools, build clinics and bridges, guide and advise, but it is and will always be the responsibility of the local people to maintain the projects so that they have some sense of ‘buy in’ and so that future generations may benefit from the projects.

As far as the basis of the stories of the books is concerned, the reality of the storyline is really based on individual perception, it depends how each sees and responds to the events told. Perception is in and will always be in the eye of the beholder.

I really believe that the Central Asian Institute has done and is doing amazing work. The Institute and those it employs have made a hugely significant difference to the lives of those people who live in the remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The people who work for the Institute have an amazing sense of dedication, justice, loyalty and pride in what they do and in what they have achieved. They truly care! It is they who possess a highly developed sense of what is important, of what is right…. of what the needs of the people are. Whoever the donor agencies are it is vital to the development of these isolated areas that the Central Asia Institute and Greg Mortenson continue to be supported.

The contributor is an educationist hailing from Shimshal Valley and is currently based in New Zealand. He can be reached at

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  1. Many of us are faraway from realityand just make our own assumption and trying to manipulate things such a wrong direction, Mr. Khaliq has illustrate the genuineness, and portrait the reality of the projects.

  2. Dear Khaliq
    The notion that just bunch of people who haven’t visited Afghanistan or Pakistan are just shooting in the dark to score some points is absurd.
    60 minuts is a credible news source and done some great investigation where schools are reported to have already built but in actual there is not such building in existence. This is a good example for all of us to watch careful such scams where both foreigner and locals are making money by selling mountain community stories.

  3. Dear sir,
    thank you for your concret information about Georg Mortenson, and his work highlighted in pakistan as well as in afghanistan. this is really somthing very serious matter to share our views in right way. his contribution is always appriciated and its not stoped,the project of CAI will be lounched in different sectors, not only in educational sector. the development comes through from soms reliable source and som NGO ruther then we axpect from some one els.and we should be aware befor comments.if some body want to know about the Mountaineer and Humanitarianis,Georg Mortenson ,then they should read his famous book, ”The Three Cups of Tea”.

    Thank you.

  4. I think it is too much to praise further,now Greg is fully exposed let such selfish philanthropists to come on screen who plunder in the name of social work by exploiting the poor masses of pakistan.It is now under investigation wait for the results………….
    Saleem Khan

  5. Mr Khaliq, you have not written a word of support for Mortensen. It appears that this is more of a bid for a job, as a public affairs officer in CAI than a genuine critical assessment of things on the ground. The temptation of corruption is rampant in all international NGOs, including the United Nations, and Aga Khan Foundation etc let us not make any mistake about this. Greg may have started with a sacred mission, but more money means more corruption. Forget about these external sponsors, and try and focus around our own government and society. Talk of philosophy, and talk of poetry for they are better consolations than waiting in wings for NGOs to shower money upon us. We should seek their knowledge rather than their money.

  6. being a student of CAI schools,i really appreciate the services of GREG…he has provided us the opportunity to get education which non of our relatives ,villagers or officers at high posts were able to give us…they just comment and make propagandas.we really salute MR GREG to give us a ray of hope in this crucial economic era…

  7. Why all the articles and comments either praise or criticize only Mr. Greg? He is just a manifestation of wider agenda. Instead of treating the controversy/furore around his personality, we need to take our analyses beyond his person to a broader level without indulging in conspiracy theories. We need to expose the link between him and wider agenda. Philanthropy is not humane now rather it is embedded with broader power and economic structure. I will share my details views on this issue in the few days.

  8. I fully agree with Aziz Bhai that we should take our analysis beyond his person to a broader level wothout be part of any sort of conspiricy. i don’t have much knowldge about Greg and his book but what i guess from all the comments above is that non of these comments are based on analysis but these comments are shoted in the dark as well. before we claim any thing about this issue, we should deeply study the issue and give comments on the basis of analystical results.

  9. Since when has 60 Minutes been a credible news source? They are out for ratings and viewership, not the truth. They are nothing more than tabloid junk.

  10. Dr:Greg mortenson…..
    thanks to all who comment about i thing i am not the level of greg.who comment about him he is one of them who wont to help for poor.and CAI is the first NGOs in the world who wont all time to help for poor country spical pakistan or afghanistan,you just learning to writing ABC but and now you people aganist of CIA.if you have education you do for any good inprovement you your kids than comment about CIA…..

  11. Georg Mortenson and CAI
    Central Asia institute
    As my information the CAI has don some work in Gilgit-Baltestan (sekerdu) and other part of baltastan.
    In Gojal chipursan valley 3 vocational centers Have made for uplifting women’s devilments and a school.
    for girls and boys
    In the other part of Gilgit Baltistan and tribal area they have some projects
    about Afghanistan it is not to my knowledge.
    so we appreciate if the CAI is doing or welling to do some schools at the Bask word areas

  12. It seems that many people don’t have idea about the background of the story…here is a brief story …Greg Mortenson’s story starts from his expedition, failed attempt to K2. He got popularity after the publication of Three Cups of Tea. The book is bestseller nonfiction, an autobiographical account of Mortenson’s school building activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Three cups of tea got popularity owing to its strong theme i.e. Terrorism can be eradicated by educating children in impoverished societies. In his book Mortenson presented himself as a hero, who reshaped and changed the extremist societies. He has been nominated many times for Nobel Peace prize and President Obama donated 100,000 dollar from his Nobel peace prize award money to CAI. (G.Mortenson is co founder of CAI)
    Jon Karakauer in his recently published book “Three Cups of Deceit” claims that G.Mortenson has invented false stories and exaggerated the events. Jon has also highlighted with evidence the misuse of grants at CAI.
    Here we appreciate the efforts of CAI to promote education in the remote mountain regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan; however, we will not allow others to project our area as an extremist society and misuse of grants received on the name of our communities.

  13. Can anyone please update what is latest about the said subject. It was a matter of concern for many people a few days but now complete silence.

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