Against All Odds: Pakistan’s Skiing Prodigy


The Islamic Republic of Pakistan isn’t much renowned for its sporting opportunities all around the world. Apart from some sports such as Cricket, Hockey and Squash nobody really knows much. Sport is really being neglected in the country but measures are being taken to improve the condition. But even when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Such is the story of a girl who fought her way through life to achieve what is really to be appreciated.

Insha Afsar, a Pakistani recently was spotted “Skiing” on top of high mountains in America, despite of losing a leg in the disastrous earthquake which raised havoc in Pakistan on 8th October 2005. Despite suffering major loss, Insha didn’t stop trying. She didn’t look back and converted her weaknesses into a driving force to achieve more in life.

Her passion was to ski. Quite ironic for a Pakistani, isn’t it? Most people don’t even know what the sport is about and here we have somebody who has had a tragic past yet looks to set new heights in the sport of skiing.

Insha was featured in the Times Magazine in April 2006. Walking with the support of crutches, she was seen in the refugee camp of Kasmar, just north of Muzzafarabad, Pakistan when Times News editor Howard Chua-Hoan first noticed her. He raised awareness, making her the face of the tragedy that took place and went to pay for her treatment hoping to make a positive impact in her life. The Shriners Foundation also helped her in providing medical care. On February 5th 2007, Times editor Rick Stengel wrote about Insha Afsar with the following words:

“In April 2006, we ran a three-page photo essay by Yuri Kozyrev documenting the state of refugees in Kashmir after the catastrophic earthquake that took the lives of 75,000 people and displaced 3 million more. One of Yuri’s pictures was of a slight girl in a hooded orange parka that had lost her leg in the quake. Two days after the magazine appeared, TIME’s news-desk supervisor, Eileen Harkin, got a call from a member of the Shriners organization in Los Angeles. It wanted to help the girl. With clues from Yuri’s notebooks and the assistance of his contacts in several relief organizations, we located the girl, Insha Afsar, 7, in a camp in Kamsar, just north of Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. TIME news director Howard Chua-Eoan personally paid for her to travel to the U.S. with her father for treatment. The Shriners arranged for free medical care for her, while the Heal the Children Foundation found a family in Connecticut to put up Insha and her father. She has since been fitted with a special prosthesis, which will have to be adjusted as she grows.”

Insha took part in a ski racing competition in the US Paralympics Alpine National Championships. She was seen storming down the course at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Insha doesn’t look back and wonder at what could have happened if the earthquake had not happened – She continues with purpose. The determined ski racing phenomenon is a brave example. She now attends Berkshire Academy in Massachusetts. She also has been sponsored by the Loon-based New England Disabled Sports (NEDS). She was one of 40 contenders to complete the full course of the race.

Despite losing a leg, she has achieved so much that most people only dream of doing. For Insha, the sky is the limit and the Pakistani is now enjoying her life in the United States where she looks to pursue her talent and set new heights in the sport of ski racing.