ISLAMABAD: Even as the government has embarked on a ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ campaign coupled with a 10 billion tree plantation drive across the country to mitigate the effects of climate change, a painting exhibition opened in the garrison city on Wednesday which put the spotlight on a community which has and stands to lose the most: mountain communities.
Organised by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) and the Rawalpindi Arts Council (RAC), the exhibition was inaugurated by mountaineer Hassan Jan on Wednesday evening. The exhibition is part of the week-long annual Pakistan Mountain Festival — by Devcom-Pakistan — which culminates on December 11, International Mountain Day.
The exhibition features some 70 pieces created by students to highlight the importance of mountains, its natural environment, cultural heritage, the fantasy and thrill associated with mountains.
Most of the artworks are oil-on-canvas paintings while some students have resorted to simpler mediums of charcoal and pencil sketches.
Mountaineer Hassan Jan, who has attempted Pakistan’s highest mountain K2, appreciated the work done by the youth. However, he urged students to visit the mountains so that they can experience the life and living culture of the mountains for themselves.
He lamented that the mountain’s resources are depleting due to over-exploitation. One area of concern which he highlighted was deforestation, concluding that it has had an adverse impact on mountaineering activities.
“Mountaineering is already a neglected field of adventure sports, the government should put it on its priority,” Jan said.
RACs’ Resident Director Waqar Ahmed said the council has been supporting the festival’s events to create awareness amongst the youth and other segments of the society.
Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director and the founder of the Pakistan Mountain Festival Munir Ahmed said that sensitizing the youth about environmental sustainability was the last hope to protect the environment.
“The damage done by the older generation is irreparable, but still there is hope to slow down the process of degradation by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating indiscriminate deforestation and by taking steps for inclusive and integrated afforestation,” he said.
Talking about the exhibition, he said that it reflects the love young artists have for the mountains and its culture through the 70 individual lenses.
“The Hunza and Kalash women, culture and heritage have been the preferred themes for some of the participants,” he said but lamented that few demonstrated knowledge about the actual threats to mountains, its people and culture.
“We the ‘experts’ and the organisations are responsible for the youth’s ignorance towards the worst climate changes happening around us. We need to launch a youth awareness campaign on the changing climate. The government agencies, multilateral organisation and the education institutions need to launch an inclusive and comprehensive initiative to inform and educate the young,” Ahmed stressed.
Art and culture expert Nahid Manzoor explained that art can be a multi-fold medium to educate and inspire the public to love mountains not only for their beauty and natural landscape but as a source of biodiversity, forests and water that we need to continue our life and livelihood.
One of the participants, Maria Karim, said that she tried to express her love for the mountains which serve to attract tourism. However, she was not hesitant in expressing her lack of knowledge about why the International Mountain Day is celebrated.
Anza Fatima, another participant, fared a little better by stating that they at the foot of the Margalla Hills and that it was important to know about the importance of such mountains.
Rimsha Kanwal pointed to the key spot mountains occupy in the environmental cycle, providing fresh air and water, two essentials for life.
“We are thankful to those who maintain the cultures and environment of the mountain to liven up our lives and moods,” she said.
The exhibition will continue until December 11.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2018.