For years the eco-system of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab has been mercilessly plundered by bandits from rich Middle Eastern states. Trampling upon large tracts of our territory, each year they indulge in barbaric and mass killing of engangered Houbara Bustards – classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List. Sadly the massacre is patronized by none other than the servile Government of Pakistan, whose foreign ministry, despite the orders of the two high courts, continues to issue illegal hunting permits.
Sindh could be proud of its rich history and ancient historical sites. The ‘5000 years old’ ruins of Mohenjo-daro, for want of care and preservation are now plagued with cigarette butts, tins and wrappers – littered by the modern inhabitants of the 21st century. Negligence and cluelessness are the first impressions as you approach the premises of one of the world’s earliest major urban settlements. Absence of instructions and defined walk-ways allow visitors to climb and trample any wall, construction or mount. The same is true for the historical mosque linked to Mohammad Bin Qasim and the majestic forts at Rani Kot and Kot Diji.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could not have been far behind in this race for self-destruction. Having already distributed the premium housing plots of its magnificent “Gulliat “ forests to the greedy, rich and powerful, it has now come up with a malicious plan to destroy the finest jewel in its crown – the magnificent lake Saiful-Maluk. A newspaper ad of Feb.10, 2015 seeks tenders for building a ‘Chairlift Resort’ at Lake Saiful Maluk. The project will be spread over 94 kanals and have a lease of 30 years – enough to completely convert this exquisite gift of nature into a huge dump of plastic bottles, empty cans, cigarette packets, wrappers, smoke, dust, litter, and pollution of every conceivable kind.
Lake Saif-ul-Maluk was formed some 300,000 years ago by glacial residues that blocked the streams of icy water that passed through the Kaghan Valley. Located at the feet of Malika Parbat, amongst the high mountain ranges of the Karakorum, this stunningly scenic and serene lake is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. It is filled with ice cold water which has a light green tinge that adds to the attraction and tranquility of the lake.
Blessed with rich eco-diversity, the lake holds many species of blue-green algae. It is home to large brown trout, while about 26 species of vascular plants exist in the area around the lake. The legendary lake is named after a Persian prince Saiful-Maluk who fell in love with a fairy princess – a folk lore immortalized by the sufi poet Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, in his collection of poems titled “Qissa Saiful Maluk”.
The perennial splendor of Saiful Maluk is already on the decline. The increase in tourists and absence of facilities, instructions and management have begun to show signs of plunder. Wrappers, plastics and other leftovers are littered all around the lake and many can now be seen floating on the waters that remained untouched and pure for centuries. With the implementation of the ‘Chairlift’ project, the tourists will now be able to participate in the lake’s destruction by dropping litter bombs from the air. The carbon-emitting noisy generators, obscene gas-guzzling SUVs, junk food restaurants, the never degrading plastic bottles, the security barriers and a crowd in pursuit of ‘selfies’ will define the new Saiful Maluk. Scores of hysteric people clinging to chairs and cables, travelling overhead, would only inflict pain and sorrow to the serene waters of the lake.
The lake needs to be preserved in its perennial form. No vehicles or equipment must be allowed within 8 km radius. On the pattern of Mount Kilimanjaro, the last 6-8 kilometers of track to the lake should be limited to walkers only. Walking could be encouraged by improving the trail and creating rest facilities at every 2 km. Tourists must be strictly forbidden from carrying any food items or throwaways in the last 2 km before the lake.
Saiful-Maluk belongs to the people of Pakistan and their future generations. The greedy contractors, corrupt bureaucrats and mindless politicians have no right to destroy in a few months and forever, the splendor and serenity that has stood the test of 300,000 years. Can the people of Pakistan unite and force the KP government to stop the destructive corporatization of our natural heritage and shelve its sinister “Sell the Saiful-Maluk” scheme.