A paraglider pilot files over Thipra village in Haripur district of northwest Pakistan

Paragliding, a free-flying thrill sport, is gradually taking roots in cricket-crazy Pakistan which offers perfect environment and geography to enthusiasts to fly like birds.

Paragliding was introduced in Pakistan mainly by European climbers in the 1980s when they visited the South Asian country to scale some of world’s highest mountains in country’s north.

However it was in 1990 that a Pakistani mountaineer, Jabbar Bhatti, 50, demonstrated paragliding by flying in the northern city of Abbottabad for state television network.Â

Pakistan is home to five of the world’s peaks over 8,000 meters (2,6246 feet) and lies on the convergence of the Himalayas, Hindu Kush, Karakoram, and Pamir ranges and plenty of ideal locations for paragliding.

Sajjad Shah, 44, one of the pioneering paraglider pilots in Pakistan, says paragliding is gaining popularity in Pakistan particular among young people who hardly have good avenues to channel their energies in a positive way.
“It is better than drugs and illegal drag racing on city roads,” Shah said while unloading gliders from his green Toyota Prado in the scenic village of Thipra, some 35 kilometres (21 miles) northwest of capital Islamabad.

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