Mountains in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) and Pakistan are rich in natural resources and essential to the survival and development of the local dwellers and downstream communities. Mountainous aspects, mainly in the context of highland-lowland interactions, are considered an issue of high and increasing relevance worldwide. In Pakistan, mountains are the main areas of water resources for irrigation, energy production, industrial and urban use. In the context of global and regional environmental and socio-economic change, the dynamics of availability and the management of these resources are crucial, and a challenge for research and education. Mountain areas of Pakistan also have social, political and strategic importance. The cryosphere and related runoff as well as natural and human induced hazards of HKH and Upper Indus Basin have crucial transnational and trans-boundary significance. The rapid growth of population, mobility and urbanization are dramatically changing not only in lowland regions, but in rather specific ways also in the mountain areas. Further, the HKH and the High Mountains of Pakistan have unique formations, being an outcome of collision of Eurasian tectonic plates and are therefore, less resilient, fragile and susceptible to degradation both to natural and anthropogenic interventions. The global/local climatic variables,
the natural stabilization processes of the relatively new but high mountains systems and development decisions of the lowlands dwellers further complicate the already existing complexity of the High Mountains. Like the mountains, the people living there also have rich culture and traditions that are often constantly shaped and reshaped by rough terrains and rugged environment. It is this unique feature of mountains, their resources and people that always attract the attention of researchers/scientists, mountaineers, development professionals and policy makers to better understand these complexities, for the development and creating synergies in the highlands and lowlands.
Until recently, except for sporadic interest of some international researchers in the High Mountains, no serious attempt or focused attention has been exhibited by the national academics or policy makers of the country. There is however, now an emerging realization that High Mountains and their untapped resources particularly water, biodiversity and minerals are fundamental to the development of lowland and sustenance of the country’s food basket. Therefore, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) Abbottabad has decided to take up the challenge and develop its niche in High Mountain research and education by establishing High Mountain Research Center.