One day Lee Kuan Yew, serving Singapore as prime minister for around 30 years, was on a drive in Boston. There he observed that cars were going into the petrol station and lining up for something. He inquired what was happening. The driver of the car replied that every six months, the owners have to get their cars’ exhaust and other polluting parts checked. The auto-workshop gives them a label to put on their cars after it has been checked and they can move around freely without being hindered by traffic wardens. The ultimate purpose behind the procedure was so that cars did not have exhausts that polluted the environment and despoiled climate, trees and plants.

When Lee Kuan Yew went back to Singapore, he had the idea implemented in his own country. Even to date, cars between three to ten years old are required to go for emissions inspections every two years, and cars older than ten years have to be inspected every year. People who do not comply with the law are penalized with heavy fines to tighten up on harmful emission production from cars, buses and trucks.

I myself have visited Singapore twice and I never noticed a single car, bus or truck producing unnecessary emission. They have kept a strict check and balance on vehicles to save the environment from further pollution. Furthermore, they have conscientiously planted greenery and foliage on the roads, in the parking areas and empty spaces for the purpose of keeping their country green and producing healthy air for people to breathe in. As you keep driving on the roads, you keep seeing green beauty around and you keep breathing clean air with minimum fuel emissions.

In Pakistan, we have seen that in the last few months many institutes have made it a priority to plant trees in the country. Schools, colleges, armed forces and political parties have started participated in planting trees; news channels have created campaigns to encourage others to do the same. A “one billion trees” project was initiated in KPK under the provincial government of Imran Khan which the whole world recognised. And now the prime minister has started a “ten billion trees” project, which is essential for and appreciated by the people of this country, considering the Punjab is already facing critical air pollution and breathing problems. Attention has been drawn towards a very worthy and much needed initiative. In order to continue our efforts in the right direction it is important to implement laws to remove very old or dangerous vehicles such as motorbikes, rickshaws, wagons, cars, buses and trucks from the roads which are producing excess emissions and are responsible for polluting the environment. This is an integral first step to make Pakistan not only green but emission free too.

In addition, the overall condition of a car including tires, brake system, engine, etc. need to be inspected from time to time to avoid the unwanted breakdown of vehicles. Almost every day, we all must bear with unnecessary traffic blockages in urban centres around the country as we try to make our way to work or school. Generally the reason behind extremely slow traffic and sometimes huge traffic blockages is the breakdown of an automobile right in the midst of the road. Perhaps a tire of a vehicle bursts out, rim comes out or engine breaks down. This situation is also common with trucks. The almost unnoticeable effect of these easily avoidable situations is the anger climbing on people’s nerves when they are late due to invalid reasons. This ultimately converts into mood swings and gives rise to aggression even on the basis of minor or petty issues in society.

I have seen people stop going to parks because the air has a lot of pollution. Not only it is detrimental to our physical health, it is also affecting our mental health when one considers the situation from all angles.

While other new and effective policies are being introduced to make this country a “Naya” Pakistan, I would appeal to the parliamentarians to also keep such issues in mind and proactively work to fix them, formulating and implementing relevant and correct laws.

We ultimately have to learn from the steps taken by successful leaders such as Lee Kuan Yew of making their underdeveloped countries developed ones. Certainly the issue highlighted above would prove to be another milestone for our great nation.


The writer is a Consultant psychologist.