His wall aka “Trump Wall” is considered an environmental disaster in the making. And the first casualty might be water.
IRSHAD SALIM (Dec 23, 2018) — Last week President Dr. Arif Alvi inaugurated the second “Art for Climate Change 2018” exhibition in the capital saying we have two Presidents: one stands for taking proactive steps to confront climate change (himself), and the other walked away from global agreement on climate calling climate change a hoax (Donald Trump).
The President’s candid speech included some frank admissions: that he was inaugurating an art show in the capital for the first time; that it was his first ever interaction with the climate change related community in capital Islamabad, and that he wanted to be an artist and a photographer but ended up being a medical professional and politician.
He promised to hold “Ghalib Mushaira” at the Presidency in near future and “will try to invite Zia Moheyuddin and Naseeruddin Shah et al to the Mushaira,” he announced.
While drawing a ying yang between peace, harmony, nature and environment and people’s natural urge to travel and explore areas, regions, Mr. Alvi pointed out that back in 2014, some 15,000 people visited Gilgit-Baltistan. This year over 2.5 million have visited GB so far, he said.
Trump at that time was emerging as a real estate developer in the northeastern (tri-state) part of USA–a business that like it or not, involves leveling grounds, cuts and fills, earthwork, redirecting streams and brooks, and at times shifting wetlands, bog turtles, endangered species, etc. to build skyscrapers and mixed community dwellings.
While inaugurating the art show (artists depict effects of climate change in northern areas), the President was briefed on ongoing efforts being made by the artists community to raise mass awareness on the effects of pollution in the country.
Two by Sujjal Kayani among all great works on display at PNCA caught my imagination as an environmental professional and painter myself, as these depicted apathy and indifference toward our very own natural resources, their wastage, and the rat race behind use of bottled water considered “safe drinking water” but not so really safe according to various analysis, reports and the top court’s remarks.
The two pictures by Sujjal were snapped in Naran’s downtown area– Naran is a medium-sized town in upper Kaghan Valley in Mansehra District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“When I visited Naran 3 months back for a residency, I decided to explore the local areas and people, and how they are living among the natural resources. What struck me most was the misuse of fresh water, taking it for granted what is little available right now,” said Sujjal. The running taps on the sink, the fresh water coming out of pipes, where people come and drink and move forward, whereas the plastic bottle water is being beautified. Like a genie in the lamp, who grants only three wishes, so the question will be how you choose among your three wishes.”
Dr. Arjumand Faisel of Gallery 6, Syed Abu Akif Ahmed the former head of PTDC, and Mr. Jamal Shah head of PNCA briefed the president and the guests on ongoing efforts by the artists community for climate change.
Led by Gallery 6, the show was jointly sponsored by PTDC, PNCA and two NGOs (Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change and Snow Leopard Foundation). The first such show was held by Gallery 6 in 2016.
“President Arif Alvi created history for arts in Pakistan by inaugurating an exhibition organized by a private sector gallery – Gallery 6,” said art curator and climate change activist Dr. Faisel.
“In the past, Presidents have been the Chief Guest for national or government sponsored shows, but the private gallery in Islamabad has earned the distinction by exhibiting “Art for Climate Change””.
Meanwhile, nearly 7100 miles away (crow flight), President Trump is up in arms for Congressional delay in funding for his multibillion dollar wall on the US-Mexico border. His wall aka “Trump Wall” is considered an environmental disaster in the making. And the first casualty might be water.
(The writer is a business & construction consultant, analyst, and Editor-in-Chief of PKonweb and DesPardes presently based in Islamabad)