Our responsibility as citizens
Each one of us has a duty to be a responsible citizen. We have legal, social and moral obligations which we owe to our country which has given us everything, above all the freedom to reside in it as and when we want. Even for all those who have left the country, Pakistan is always a backup plan in case everything else fails, they always have a home to come back to. Pakistan is our abode; haven, land and address. No matter how many Nationalities we get on paper, we can never be a part of them. This is where we fit in. This is where we belong.
The beauty of Pakistan
After exploring Europe, far east, USA and middle east, I have been on a mission to explore my own country since 2013. I have been stunned by its sheer beauty, the exuberant tones of the mountains, rivers and sea are hypnotising. You have to see it to believe it. Our Hindu Kush range is no less than the Swiss Alps. Our country is gorgeous beyond words. God has been exceedingly kind to us. Most of the countries do not have all that we have been blessed with. It is really a land of opportunities.
While exploring the beauty of Pakistan, the only thing that breaks my heart is how heartlessly people throw rubbish around. Any place which is explored by Pakistani’s will have their signs through juice cans, crisps and toffee wrappers. It’s like a person who’s getting kidnapped throws signs of his existence in a jungle so people can find him through these traces which lead to him. Unfortunately, in this case, litter isn’t thrown around for saving a life, its only a habit. The most repulsive and disgusting habit ever.
I see countless fellow countrymen throwing litter around. Islam focuses on cleanliness more than anything else which is why it is such a pity that people from our side of the world are found indulging in this disgraceful act more than anyone else. The uneducated class shouldn’t be doing this but if an educated person behaves in this way, serious action should be taken against him.
I would love to share an experience. I was traveling on PIA and after showing emergency exits video, they showed a video displaying all that cannot be thrown in the toilet seat. The video included juice boxes, forks and glasses. I laughed first. And then I sadly realized that people must be stupid enough to throw all these in the flush which is why they made the video.
Our garbage is our job not anyone else’s
Know that it is not the sweeper/cleaner or garbage collectors job to clean after us. Each one of us is responsible for the mess we make. Every time we use a washroom we are solely responsible for cleaning after ourselves. We are solely responsible for all our rubbish and it is our duty to dispose off all our muck in the proper place.
Even the educated class
I shuddered and told her ‘How can you say that. We have to throw these in a bin when we find one. Or else we will take them back with us and dispose them off in the office dustbin.’ She insisted and said ‘No! Just throw them out na. The sweeper comes in the morning. He will clean it up’. I closed the door with a broken heart. If the educated class thinks like this, how can we blame those who are not fortunate enough to go to school.
This isn’t a rare incident. We see it happening all the time. We all know that it is illegal to sit in a moving vehicle without a seat belt. Honestly how many of you do it? Thank God, I have always felt very strongly about these things. But I am talking about many of my colleagues and friends who (in spite of me asking them repeatedly) refuse to wear seat belts. This class of educated professionals continue to break traffic rules, throw garbage around and crib about how bad our country is. I swear, it is such a pity!
My Sri Lankan friend Sarah Oshin Pothupitiya feels very strongly about this topic too. Following is what she said to me when she saw some people throwing garbage around:
“It’s actually really annoying and frustrating. People have stopped thinking about others. All they care is themselves. I don’t understand how they can live with themselves knowing that another person is going to suffer. I was crying and talking to my fiance last night and telling him how I wish I could change all this.
I wish I could make people understand and feel that if they change their ways, this country might actually move forward. The thing is, Sri Lanka is just turning into a garbage pit. There is dirt lying around everywhere. On every road. And it stinks. And yet no one cares.”
There is such a simple solution, just keep extra shopping bags with you when traveling. Keep collecting all your litter and dispose it off whenever you find a bin. In case you forget, take back all the rubbish with you in your car boot. Why do you have to contaminate Pakistan’s lakes, mountains and breathtaking views? All the garbage attracts thousands of flies causing diseases in your own hometown.
Support good initiatives
When I started going out with Discover Pakistan, I was really happy to see that they are raising such awareness against garbage disposal. They announce in the bus that if anyone throws a wrapper or any form of garbage anywhere outside, he has to pay an instant fine of Rs. 500 there and then. And whoever reports of a fellow traveler indulging in such an act will get that money for reporting. I feel its a great incentive towards a cleaner Pakistan. I really hope they always continue this initiative.
Many times while trekking in Margalla mountains Islamabad, I have seen a volunteer lady accompanied with some kids picking up garbage on trails. It’s sad to see the lady bend down and pick up each wrapper which youngsters so mindlessly throw away. I have seen so many Muslims keeping their home clean and throwing all their garbage outside their home. We must act up and behave ourselves as the world is watching us.
In USA and England, if you are walking your dog and he poops in the garden or road, you are responsible for it. Pet owners take poop bags in their handbags and the moment it happens, they pick it up and throw it off in the closest dog poop bin. In case, there isn’t a dog poop bin available nearby, they will seal the bag properly and put it back in their handbag and continue their walk. This is exactly how responsible citizens behave.
How To Act Responsible
1. Better upbringing
- Dispose off garbage in its proper place
- Do not waste water
- Switch off electricity when not in use
- Wear seat belts in any moving vehicle (car, bus, airplane etc)
- Plant trees
- Do not spit anywhere other than a wash basin
- Do not pee any where other than a washroom flush
- Pull the flush every time you use public toilets. In case it doesn’t work, pour water in it
- Using recyclable products in our everyday life
- Using proper indicators while driving on the road
- Knowing traffic rules fully and obeying them
- Not driving a car without license
- Pay taxes honestly
- After using a washroom, wipe off water from sink and flush to keep it dry
- Respect rights, beliefs and opinions of others
2. Being considerate towards others
I know it requires a little extra effort to be a responsible citizen. But it is all about being a less selfish person and putting the needs of society before your own. It is actually no hard work at all. It is just a lifestyle which we should choose to adopt. Basically means thinking of the impact of our actions on others.
3. Creating awareness to those around us
The underprivileged actually have no idea about this sometimes. I know to people like me, it sounds like common sense.
But when I was trekking with a local in Sharan (a jungle in the wilderness), I realised sometimes they actually don’t know. When I tried to explain to a local there that we shouldn’t throw sweet wrappers on the ground. He laughed and said ‘its all muck. You see these stones, wood, mud…. it’s all muck so throwing wrapper won’t make a difference’. So I tried explaining what biodegradable concept means. Its okay to throw stones, wood, mud on the ground but not okay to throw plastics, foil etc. We need to create awareness to bring a change.
4. Actually Making a change
I hate drawing room talk against our society. I actually want to make a difference. Who is with me in this mission?
Let’s unite in making this promise today. I want all of you who are reading and are motivated to making Pakistan cleaner and greener to comment below: ‘I will never throw litter around. I will be a responsible citizen’. Let’s also stick to this motto. This is the only hope of change. Let’s share this as much as possible to raise awareness. Let’s stop littering and be responsible Pakistanis!
Thanks for stopping by. Do you feel strongly about this topic too? Do let me know.