The Sea and the Sea of Garbage

A photo essay by Vaqar Ahmed in Dawn (photo, “Symbols of national pride with the sea in the background.” – by Vaqar Ahmed):

Whether you live in the most expensive area of Karachi or in the slums, piles of garbage are there to remind you that you are in Pakistan. It promotes kinship and national unity.

Also, it is an open invitation to recycling and it is nature friendly as birds and beasts alike come and feast on it. A large number of humans also use it for profit through recycling. I am convinced that as soon as plastic “shappar”-bag-eating crows evolve we will be declared the most environmentally friendly country in the world. I therefore recommend that Pakistan’s national symbol should be a pile of garbage.

Armed with this new found awareness and respect for this national symbol I decided to step out from my “next to the garbage dump” apartment and headed out to see how this symbol of national unity was doing in and around Clifton Block III (that, in addition to my humble abode, boasts the presence of Bilawal House, home to the president of Pakistan.)

After crossing the two aforementioned piles of garbage and admiring the birds and cats peacefully sharing nature’s bounty, I headed towards the sea. I was greatly encouraged to see that there was a huge garbage dump right adjacent to the shore. This one was certainly designed as a model garbage dump complete with Pakistan’s national flag proudly flying over it!


On a more detailed inspection of the model garbage dump I discovered that it was also meant to be a picnic spot. Part of the surrounding was lush green and a peaceful ravine carrying garbage was curving towards the sea like a long lost lover meeting with the beloved. This was clearly intended as a vision of paradise.