1,000 trees for Pakistan

KARACHI: With the simple belief that trees clean the air, prevent soil erosion and provide food, Clifton residents came out and planted 1,000 trees in the neighbourhood.

A registered body with the Sindh government, Clifton Block 4 Residents Association made aFacebook event page to start the movement and the movement steadily picked up pace through word of mouth.

The association’s founding members, Ali Manzoor and Farhan Khursheed, were dismayed at how the road verges and islands of their neighbourhoods had been dug up to lay down cable lines. However, instead of adopting the typical attitude of look, fume, rave and then do nothing – they decided to plant 1,000 trees by calling it ‘Plant 1,000 Trees for a Greener Neighbourhood’ movement last week. The movement actually ended up planting 1,012 trees instead.

“I am sick of people criticising Pakistan and doing nothing about it,” said Manzoor. “I want to show people that a difference can be made by taking the smallest initiative,” he added.

Chinese consul-general came by to plant a tree and so did Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Sharmila Farooqi. “It is commendable that residents started the initiative on their own, I also went there to encourage them and to do my share in making a difference towards our environment,” said Farooqi.

Activist Jibran Nasir said, “It’s good to see small community leaders stepping up, and this is real grass roots leadership and ownership of society.”

People of different age groups showed enthusiasm in attending the event. Owners of local restaurants and cafes, such as Sattar Baksh and China Kitchen, also came by to show their support.

Hina Azad of sattar Baksh.

A notable addition to the group of tree-planters was an 80-year-old man who walked to the venue and planted a tree. He came to do so because he believed in the cause and said it was very important to Pakistan.

“Planting a tree is simple and it is something that brings people together regardless of their political beliefs, age or even religion,” said Manzoor. “We had members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and PPP who have come and planted a tree,” he added.

For Clifton Block 4 Association vice-president Farhan Khursheed the enthusiasm for the movement was awe-inspiring. “Pakistan is not dead. Pakistanis still care, they just need a venue to show their love for their country,” he said.

Manzoor said that even expats took part in the initiative by saying that he had a request from Australia to Skype-plant a tree. The trees that were planted were all donated by a local organisation. The conocarpus tree was chosen because it needs to be watered for a few weeks, grows very fast and barely requires any maintenance. The association have arranged for the local Saddar Town to provide two dirty water tankers every day for two weeks.

The Clifton Block 4 Residents Association is planning their next venture that will specifically target schoolchildren.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2014.

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