Islamabad-Scores of residents on Monday gathered and launched a clean-up campaign at Margalla hills to protect the natural ecology of the area. The members of Islamabad Devcom Centennial Leo Club (IDCLC) and nature-loving residents picked up litter from the Margalla Hills Trail-3. The hiking and community litter picking drive was organised by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) in connection with the 8th Pakistan Mountain Festival (PMF). The festival is an annual flagship public advocacy event of Devcom-Pakistan to mark the International Mountain Day (IMD). This year it is being supported by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP).   Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation Deputy Mayor Zeeshan Ali Shah Naqvi and the Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director and the PMF founder Munir Ahmed led the Margalla Hills Trail-3 clean-up. Speaking on the occasion, Munir Ahmed said that the participants collected a huge amount of waste including plastic bottles, wrappers, tins, plastics, and shopping bags and food-packaging thrown by the environment unfriendly visitors on the trail 3.

The trash dumping by the visitors on the hiking trails at Margalla Hills continue despite the presence of checking points set up by Islamabad Wildlife Board. Munir Ahmed said the natural ecology and habitats of the mountains need to be protected for the sake of biological diversity, water and food security for human beings and other living species on the planet.

He said the overwhelming participation of youth in the Margalla Hills clean-up is a good sign and the maturity of youth towards nature conservation. The sensitised and environmentally engaged youth would become a real source for inspiration for others to take the green and clean practices in the society. Munir Ahmed said, “The fragile mountain ecosystems are the lifeline of the living and breathing species including human beings, and they cannot be restored as actual if over exploited once, therefore, we need to be more conscious to conserve them.” Zeeshan Ali Shah Naqvi, the MCI Deputy Mayor, said the corporation was making all out efforts to protect the green nature of the federal capital despite lack of availability of funds. He said the MCI would be implementing the Clean and Green Pakistan initiative wholeheartedly in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) without any discrimination of rural and urban areas.

He said the MCI would encourage citizens’ engagement in the management and improvement of civic facilities. Engaging the youth in healthy and environment friendly practices would be one of the priorities for the MCI. He said a cultural trail would be established from Shah Allah Ditta village to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the region has significant Buddhist remains.

The IDCLC president Haris Munir said that Pakistan was the custodian of several highest altitude mountains, adding that, it is our collective responsibility to take care of the sanctity of the mountains that contribute a major chunk to our livelihood.