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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

What will make Pakistan Great

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

True patriotism is loving your country and countrymen enough to want to make it better.

One of the best ways to check which countries are the cleanest in the world is by looking into the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), a project developed by Yale University and Columbia University. The EPI takes into account a number factors directly associated with the environment such as air pollution and water sanitation and combines them to come up with a solid number to mark the environmental state in countries. Fifty percent of the variables pertain to environmental health while the other half involves ecosystem vitality. By that standard, according to international surveys, the list of countries that are considered to be the cleanest in the world include Iceland, Canada, Finland, Brunei, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Slovenia, Spain, Portugal and New Zealand. On the contrary, most of the countries and cities in South Asia especially in India and Pakistan are among the dirtiest, not only because of poor EPI rating but on numerous other counts too. While better economy, good education, geography, temperate weather, less population per square kilometer, culture, governance, controlled industrialization versus agro farming, forests and good scientific systems in place to control excessive emission of poisonous gases and water pollution, all contribute in making the environment cleaner. However, a country that may not have been blessed with every desirable factor can still manage to look better and cleaner. And that is where role of every citizen comes into play, besides governmental efforts.

It is said that if you want to judge a nation’s standard of civilized behaviour, see its traffic on the road. In the same context, one foreigner being sceptical of Pakistan’s nuclear status once sarcastically remarked, “You people can’t even control your road traffic; how on earth can you control your missiles and nuclear weapons”. At present, most cities and towns in our beloved country Pakistan are in an unenviable state. Our travel from Lahore to Abbottabad or Murree in late 70s on the only available Grand Trunk Road despite being marked with many bumps and potholes was never boring or frustrating as we had much cleaner air, eye pleasing landscape, less traffic density due to proportionate population, no bottle necks, no encroachments astride the road and above all far nicer and polite people to travel with. However, as of now, the comparison of travel on the same route in much better personal or public transport even on better roads is quite depressing and frustrating due to a host of reasons. Now Pakistan has greatly improved road infrastructure throughout the country compared with past 40 years; nevertheless, our inter and intra city road traffic is a mess giving impression of most disorganized state and most illiterate and ill tempered masses. Who is to blame? Unplanned over population, weak education system, lack of required grooming at home and in the education institutions, inability to quantify the bearable road traffic density, thoughtless import and production of cars, inefficient traffic police, corrupt licensing system, disregard to most desired traffic rules, inappropriate mix of slow and fast moving traffic, unfit vehicles allowed to ply on the roads including animal transport, undue speed breakers, service lanes and footpaths being used as parking and vendors’ markets, swarms of beggars on roads and in parking spaces, continued construction of commercial buildings with insufficient parking spaces, useless and ugly police check points with hazardous barriers, encroachments on the roads, fearless under aged or intoxicated drivers and mostly dysfunctional traffic signals are few to quote. But most deplorable reason remains people’s own bad road sense and poor behaviour as they get away with all claptrap displayed on the roads by bribing a petty sum if at all there is someone to catch the violators. As a matter of fact, our poor traffic system is not only causing very tragic road accidents resulting in deaths of hundreds of people every month and resulting in hypertension; but also causing extra emission of poisonous gasses and heat, wastage of fuel and time, which makes it the blackest scar on the face of society as well as country. The uncontrolled price hike, ultra high gas and electricity bills and all national institutions displaying lacklustre attitude as if they are on a strike seem part of a sinister plan to let down the government, which has probably made it little difficult for them to continue the old practices of sharing loot and plunder. Consequently, all the government departments are deliberately turning a blind eye to this mayhem so that it can boomerang with sever political backlash for the incumbent government, that may help their old booty sharing masters to come back to power.

Our dried and further drying up rivers courtesy Indian game plan, missing dams courtesy own short sighted and plagued politics, excessive deforestation, conversion of hills into crush and cement right in front of our eyes, and free flow of sewage and untreated industrial waste water into rivers is not only resulting in greater degradation of environmental health but also destroying ecosystem. Villages that were once surrounded by orchards and green fields are fast converting in to brick and concrete towns….eyesore nonetheless. More and more agriculture land is being converted in to private housing societies without any mega town planning, which is further aggravating our scarce water resources and creating potential food crises. All this is quite obviously happening with due connivance of concerned departments and bureaucracy, who are little less happy with their under check black money accounts. Fear of law is missing due to a host of reasons, thus we are plunging deeper and deeper. The earlier PTI government wakes up to this reality, the better for the country and for its own survival.

Sheikh Saadi said, “Whatever makes an impression on the heart seems lovely in the eye”……., doesn’t it work both ways when it comes to our personal looks, homes, places of work, towns and cities. While we expect our government to make better infrastructure, better transport means, it becomes our shared responsibility to use it with due care and with better mannerism. Keeping our country clean and exhibiting fine behavior as a member of society is part and parcel of our religious teachings but one hardly ever hear it from religious teachers or even teachers in education institutions. However, present government riding on the given slogan of bringing change and provision of justice, may like to focus on the above mentioned problems badly impacting on the image of our country and making it look contradictory to its name PAKISTAN. Needless to say that Pakistan is in a dire need to immediately undertake already overdue reforms in our judicial system, education, land/agriculture and civil services including police. Our foreign policy needs to follow simple motto of pursuing economic interests with time and space bound goals to be achieved in every part of the world through our extremely expensive diplomats in missions abroad.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"

· Saleem Qamar Butt, SI (M) is a retired senior Army officer with rich experience in Military & Intelligence Diplomacy and is a writer and consultant on Strategic Analysis for many newspapers, magazines and Pakistan Television Network. (Mail:, Website: )

Published in Daily Times

Published in Daily Business News

12 February 2019

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