PWC marks World Environment Day with fervor in Riyadh


By Fayyaz Malik

— Pakistan Writers’ Club and its Ladies’ Chapter observed the World Environment Day by hosting a panel discussion wherein the members brainstormed on various aspects of environmental threats and the need to work together to solve them.

Presiding over the debate, PWC Patron in Chief Faiz Al-Najdi remarked that Pakistani environment issues were a bit different from the global ones. He listed the local problems that needed local solutions, like water scarcity in Sindh and Balochistan, eco-system disturbance, deforestation, serious water and air pollution, coastal and marine degradation of Indus delta mangrove forests and the poor urban waste solid management.

Advisor to the PWC President Rauf Mughal said that according to the latest global Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranking, Pakistan stood at 169 among 180 countries. “Pakistan’s environmental issues are directly related to people’s health. There is a need to improve the environment as well as human health,” Rauf added.

Yousef Ali Yousef said that although various steps were being taken in Pakistan to tackle and improve the environmental situation, the news on this issue gets a very low share and coverage in the media.

Naveed Ur Rehman highlighted the water shortage issue in Pakistan. He said, “More than half of the population will be affected by 2030, if the government fails to make any efforts to build more dams.”

Ayemen Zaheer emphasized the personal initiatives that a common man can take to save the environment. “Water is the most precious blessing of the Almighty. Its deterioration is a great threat to mankind,” Aymen remarked.

Ashiq Hussein discussed the impact that social media can make on spreading awareness about environmental issues among the masses. “Serious and effective campaigns are needed to convince people to plant trees and keep the environment clean,” Ashiq added.

Zubair Ahmed Bhatti shed light on educating the village folks about the environmental threats, especially those where many of the rural dwellers were involved in cutting trees, wasting water by wrong ways of irrigation, and misuse of pesticides.

Shahjehan Sherazi said that electronic and print media should start regular campaigns to highlight man-made environmental crises, so that the NGOs can reach out and solve the problems in real time.

Tanvir Mian highlighted the social responsibilities of big business houses towards fixing the environmental issues. “Mega businesses in Pakistan have their own share in degrading the health of water, air and soil. It’s time for them to pay back.”

Members of PWC Ladies Chapter (PWC-LC) also participated in the panel discussions.

Adviser to Convener Madiha Malik said, artists, writers and singers can present environmental themes in their creative works for a better awareness. “Art works through symbolism and symbols work better than speeches and debates, “Madiha added.

Convener Dr. Farah Nadia drew attention to an article from Washington Post. “Karachi has only 0.35 trees per person in comparison to other world capitals, which calls for an immediate action plan.” Farah mentioned.

Deputy Convener Shumaila Zupash emphasized on the need to invoke religious teachings to understand the environmental threats. “Like other creatures’ protective mechanisms, for the humans it is in the form of social consciousness and behavior which needs to be activated,” Shumaila remarked.

Ambreen said, “In order to maintain human health, it’s vital to breathe clean air. However, in this scientifically advanced age, we are forced to live in polluted environs, which explains why we suffer from innumerable diseases and stress.”

Qundeel Aymen further discussed the role of media. “In Pakistan media is an agent of transforming lifestyle. As it inculcates policy issues in the minds of masses, it should publish public awareness messages regarding environmental hazards.”

Madiha Noman emphasized on reducing the use of plastics. “We hear a lot about air pollution, global warming and greenhouse effect. Just making speeches and debate will not work anymore. Now it’s a high time for action,” she added.

Sonia Kashif emphasized the need to include a greater number of women into the national efforts to save the environment. “Women have a better understanding to tackle water shortage, energy crises, and deforestation,” Sonia said.

Shaheen favored adopting cost effective natural alternative ways to produce energy. “In order to depend less on harmful fossil fuels, we need to depend on affordable local alternative energy,” she said.

President Fayyaz Malik in his closing remarks impressed upon all in making environmental awareness into effective political agenda in order to find policy-based solutions for the issue. “The term environment is unfamiliar to people of Pakistan even after the 1983 Environmental Protection Ordinance,” Malik remarked.

The panel discussions thus concluded with a note of thanks from the PWC President to all those who participated.