The mountains are beautiful at this time of year: Horse chestnut leaves tinted orange, yellow, crimson, drifting, slowly until caught and danced by a whisper of chill, even in the brilliant sunshine, breeze. The bucolic scene enhanced by bunches of harvested grass laid out to dry on house roofs or stuffed in the fork of silver trunked poplar trees until needed for animal fodder; and by the blazing dots of overly ripe wild rosehips dotting the undergrowth here and there and, at first glance, all is well in the world but, reality is quite different and –shamefully – sick!

As the leaves of deciduous trees fall and long grasses die – or are burnt back by the local pyromaniacs who run riot at this time of year setting entire mountainsides on fire in sheer mad glee. The human desecration of the earth on which all life depends for survival, is revealed in all its toxic filth. Plastic bottles, plastic bags, disposable diapers, fast food cartons, biscuit packets, sweet wrappers, you name it and it will be there somewhere in amongst broken glass and a myriad other examples of so-called ‘modern’ life in which people have respect for nothing except money.

Raise your eyes and look towards what is, for much of the year, the glorious view of the Pir Panjal Mountain range holding up the sky across the Jhelum Valley in Azad Kashmir and all that can clearly be seen now is a dense, purplish, poisonous murk, technically known as ‘The Asian Brown Cloud’, comprised of industrial pollution drifting, wind carried, across from India as it will continue to do. Lahore will be atmospherically clogged with this toxic mix in a matter of days now – a week or two at the most – until the weather, and wind direction alters, swings round to the north and rushes in with snow and rain and humanity will continue to pay the price of its own crass stupidity and race, headlong, towards its own nasty – and certainly well deserved – end.

Obsession with money and economic growth has blinded humanity to the absolute necessity of living a sustainable, ecologically and environmentally friendly way of life and pollution. Just toss the garbage out of the car window, over the wall, out of the door or drop it as you walk being the way of the majority – rules the earth, the sky, the water and poisons the food. Much of it already rendered toxic by the use of specifically manufactured and/or applied chemicals in one form or another, all life forms must eat in order to survive – in increasing sickness – just that little while longer or, in the case of humans, long enough to, assisted by doctors playing the profit game, pay a fortune to pharmaceutical companies to get hooked on cures that are no cure at all but simply delay what is, thanks to human greed and ignorance, inevitable.

To point out, to almost but not quite all thank goodness, that there is no need to wrap every single purchase in a plastic bag but to put it, unwrapped, into your own bag or basket is, for the most part, to be labeled ‘insane’. A label the writer wears with pride.

To actually care about the future of the planet rather than just to live for the disposable is now, likewise, to be thought mad as why, unless you happen to be no more than a teenager, bother, for example, to plant a fruit tree when you may no longer be around to eat what it will, eventually, produce which is, unforgivably, the exact same attitude that people apply to life in general. It is down to a case of grab it when you can and to hell with whoever comes next – even if these happen to be your own children which is a despicable state of mind to exist in – if ‘exist’ actually applies as such a state of mind is selfishly moronic at the best and, at the worst, well, I leave that to your imagination if, that is, you still have one!

This complete and utter mindlessness – aside from the main objective of money and other material possessions societally deemed as necessary – is the main reason that Pakistan, and the world in general, is going, increasingly violently, down the drain. Few stand for peace against war as few care and, for those playing the monetary ‘game’, war means profit, huge profit no matter the cost in human and ecocidal terms and as for the increase in refugees fleeing from an ever increasing number of horrific war zones – who, unless they happen to be one themselves, really gives a damn?

The government and other so-called ‘authorities in Pakistan are no different: They set no example to follow and the people follow this blind example blindly. The blind leading the blind in the name of profit and greed and to hell in the future – for that is exactly what it will be unless change, caring change, comes and comes now – not next week, next month or next year – Now!

 The writer has authored two books titled The Gun Tree:  One Woman’s War, The Parwan Wind - Dust Motes and lives  in Bhurban.

zahrahnasir@hotmail.com