A British diplomat is cleaning trash in Islamabad and Wasim Akram is ashamed for all of us

You would assume that an early morning walk in the green-capped Margalla Hills in Islamabad would be a pleasurable experience but the reality of the situation is far from serene, as proved by British High Commissioner Christian Turner who went for a walk and came back with two bags full of garbage he collected on the trail.

“Another Friday morning walk, another two bags of litter. Safaai nisf imaan hai [cleanliness is half of faith],” he posted on Twitter with a picture of himself holding two bags full of garbage.

Now you would think that seeing this would embarrass public officials but Hamza Shafqaat, the Islamabad deputy commissioner (read: officially employed and being paid to serve the public) praised Turner for doing a job he was responsible for overseeing.

“Great,” he replied, much to the astonishment of the public. Perhaps a more appropriate response would have been: “I’m sorry you had to do this, my administration will work harder and try to pick up trash too”.

He later clarified that his intention was misunderstood but you know what they say about the internet, what you say on it lives on forever.

Unlike him, cricketer Wasim Akram who has been vocal about pollution and climate change and taken part in beach cleaning activities with his wife Shaneira, realised how shameful the situation was for locals who continue to dump garbage in the area, as well as for the administration, who have no infrastructure and system in place to clean it.

“Now this is really embarrassing. Where are we heading?” he sighed, grateful to the high commissioner for taking up something that was not his responsibility. “And thanks Mr Turner for doing this almost every week,” he added.

Naturally, people were both ashamed and irritated.

Pakistanis, do better in keeping your country clean. It’s 2021, and we cannot believe we still need to say this. And government officials, stop thinking other people coming in and cleaning up is “great”. He shouldn’t have to do this.

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