Three of our provincial capitals are ranked within the top ten of the world’s most polluted cities. Shock and awe: Karachi is not one of them. Quetta comes at a whopping 4th place, Peshawar at number 6 and Lahore at 10. Access to clean drinking water in these cities is a virtual impossibility unless you are investing in barrels of mineral water daily, (amidst allegations that that is not safe for drinking either). Additionally, in an agrarian country, the yield is inversely proportional to the pollution levels of any given area. As a result, soil is gradually getting corrupted.

Beyond domestic concerns, global warming (no matter how persistently we shrug off responsibility), will affect the world regardless of who the greatest polluters were. New studies reveal that Asia will be the most impacted region. Flood, famine, drought- you name it, it’s on the list. The water levels in the country are already dropping and this decrease is likely to increase exponentially in the future. Pollution related diseases, often life threatening, are on the rise in urban centers, and preventative measures are not being seriously considered.

In less developed countries, significant pollution may be impossible to eliminate completely but there is a strong case for control; to decrease its persistent interference with the personal lives and the health of citizens.  Air pollution from factories and cars must be curtailed, and instruments such as catalytic converters that reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted should be looked into. However, these don’t address the fundamental problem of local attitudes. More than anything, a culture of awareness needs to be inculcated, and a narrative that focuses on individual responsibility must come into existence especially amongst young people and young professionals. Only then will people make the conscientious choice to reduce their carbon footprint, and to extend their love of country to, literally, the grass-roots level.