Islamabad—The recent “Project Clean up for Peace” initiated by a young resident of Islamabad proved to be a remarkable effort as hundreds of youngsters took the streets of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad to clean up the clutter and havoc created by mobs on “Yoam e Ishq e Rasool” that took place on Friday. The initiative was started by Faran Rafi, a fresh graduate of LUMS, through social media sites such as facebook and twitter. As perturbed as the youth was on the mayhem created on Friday, the response was immensely positive and many youngsters decided to play their part in not only rebuilding the tarnished image of Pakistan but also to begin by cleaning up.
As much as this entire episode highlights the issues of violence, frustration and illiteracy, the Project “Clean up for Peace” signifies an important yet often neglected aspect of our society. Cleanliness is half of faith and this is what Islam teaches us as one of the important cardinals. Whether we practice it or not in our lives is something else.
A similar step towards maintaining a clean environment was inaugurated by Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, ex chairman CDA through his anti littering drive of CDA in 2011. The ex-chairman CDA launched this campaign in F-7 markaz, Islamabad commonly known as Jinnah Super market, one of the most popular markets of the capital, and as a gesture he himself began by picking up litter around and disposing it off properly. Under the program, anti-littering zones were established and a fine would be imposed on anyone found littering. Rs fifty had to be charged on the spot by the sanitation staff of the CDA. Fine would also apply on wastage of water and throwing of debris in the streets. To tackle environmental problems, wastage of water and spread of diseases, this was a long awaited move on the part of the authorities. The concept of cleanliness, civic sense and discipline in day to day life, is alien to us therefore this practical step by an authority was somewhat of a breakthrough.
At first glance, it did not appear to be an important development but its significance lies in the concept behind this small step. This move could have proven to be a landmark, provided it was implemented properly and enforced in other cities as well. The bureaucrat who dared to introduce this odd measure perhaps had limited purview at the time but it should have served as an example for every individual in society. In fact a campaign should have been launched at the national level for such things by the government. Especially, the energies of youth could have been utilized for such campaigns. Moreover today a year after this campaign was launched; there is no sign of its continuity. This small step could have proved to be a catalyst for change and transformation of our cities however like most valuable efforts this too has been buried under history. The chairman of CDA has been changed and this commendable effort has been wasted. An unfortunate tradition prevails in our country as authorities tend to undo whatever efforts have been made by their predecessors without paying heed to the long term benefits that can accrue from continuing those efforts.