By Aaliya Moula Dad
The aim of writing this comprehensive piece is to throw light on the frustration that is hidden inside me. The chaos exclusively destructs my concentration and enforces me to break the silence to halt the environmental degradation that is growing rapidly across Gilgit-Baltistan.
We have contributed enough to destroy the scenic beauty that lies in the heart of Gilgit-Baltistan. We have contributed enough to alter and modify the geo-physical conditions of existing ecosystem services (includes biodiversity, land, water etc) across Gilgit-Baltistan. We have contributed enough to transform a divorced and congenial world into an alien world because the power of our knowledge has led to solecism.
Now, is the time for action to attenuate the environmental degradation and develop strategic frameworks to bridge human and natural systems accounting for environmental externalities and supporting conservation at all levels. Now, is the time to act morally and rationally, and the pedagogy of genius is to live in the real world, by knowing about each life, which is reflected not only from the faces of all around us, our fellow creatures, but reflected from the flowers, the trees, the beasts, and from the very surface of the water and the sands of the desert.
The first utterance and impressions that my mind acknowledged here in Canada are the green environment, the green economy, zero waste, conservation from plant to planet, and the sense of responsibility from child to elderly. However, such attributes are missing in us, and in our people across Gilgit-Baltistan. We are not aliens to behave in different ways. We are so called “homo-sapiens”, and we are supposed to behave ethically and morally by considering every aspect of nature in our surroundings. However, the exasperation still exist in every one of us. Therefore, we even do not bother to teach these ethical norms to our children at the very early age. Neither there is any sense of responsibility in every one of us. Nonetheless, we have to make sure that our actions and reactions may not harm ecosystem services, goods, and biodiversity in Gilgit-Baltistan.
However, the problem still exists at the very grass root level that includes the lack of education on the human-nature link, coexistence, ethical value, and intrinsic value of nature. We have not recognized any of these fundamental components of nature until now. We are being biased towards nature and the rights of land because want to use land as a private property. We feel proud to be Gilgit-Baltistani, but what is the use when we do not have true feelings and respect for land health. Does it make sense to feel proud when we do not want to modify our behaviours and actions in order to make a positive impact?
No matter what happens, we stick to our inappropriate attitudes and behaviours, which result in human-nature conflict. To comfort ourselves, we indiscriminately and irrationally throw everything anywhere we want because that land belongs to none. The best example I can give is the practice of open defecation that has been existing since long time ago. Being stuck in the mud, no one has ever realized how this is impacting us and our land that has given us everything sufficiently—from health to wealth. No one has ever tried to mainstream this concealed and mysterious issue that is deteriorating the intrinsic value of nature. It is one the most awful and appalling behaviors I have ever seen in my life. Unabashedly, men practice this kind of act without considering the essence of the natural value of land. I lived in Gilgit city for almost a year, and I saw so many men openly defecating standing near a wall, or some other ‘corner’. I am sure that many people have seen and felt the same at this scandalous behaviors of some men, who act in public spaces. I really felt outrageous and abominable at that moment, because this is an illegal action against the rights of nature and mother earth that happens across the country. I even felt disappointment because our so called the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan has not abandoned such inappropriate and unethical behaviors of men until now because this is one of the irrepressible issues growing constantly across Gilgit-Baltistan.
Today, if some men are practicing this kind of acts in the context of privatization of land, tomorrow the entire male generation will be on the way to encourage this atrocious and unacceptable action. Therefore, we need to abolish such kind of unethical, contemptible, and disreputable behaviours from the grass root levels, which directly and indirectly threaten natural beauty as well as our “land health”. In short, I want to convey the important message that it is our fundamental duty to protect the natural beauty in our surroundings. We all need to stand up against this vulgar and repugnant act. We all need to shout out loud to stop this inappropriate and inadmissible act throughout Gilgit-Baltistan. Because we all are responsible for protecting and restoring the ecosystem services, which are essential and of the paramount important for us and for our upcoming generation. Today, if we do not speak up for the rights of our land, we will end up being violating nature and its goods and services.
Hailing from Hunza, the contributor is a Master in Environmental Studies student at York University, Ontario, Canada.