From Pakistan to the World – ‘Come dump on us, why don’t you?’

It is not about improving the image of Pakistan but cutting down the parallel economy of Pakistan. We are so fixated on getting our way by hook or by crook that we don’t realize the collateral damage we do for the sake of making a quick buck. This is the reason the rest of the world uses us for all things negative!

Our country has been a target for all sorts of waste. It started from defected clothes and accessories in “Landa Bazaars” to the e-waste coming in, in the form of used computers, then dengue came in with tyres and now end of life plastic in the form of IV tubes, urine bags and what not.

My question is when will this end?

Most recently I learnt that large containers of medical waste have been entering Karachi with medical waste, I also learnt that they were confiscated by the authorities. I relaxed a little. But then to learn that this end of life plastic has been transported through the dry port in Lahore and already available to local manufacturers??

On my visit to Lahore two days ago I along with some other media friends of mine took a drive down to Shadran which is the scrapyard heaven in Lahore. I see crushed plastic, piles of medical waste, IV tubes and infusion bags lying on the ground in warehouse and people coming to buy them, I caught hold of one of the kids who works there, to my utter shock he tells me that local manufacturers who make plastic products even down to utensils come and buy this scrap to reuse!

Disturbed and frustrated with the lack of common sense in my fellow countrymen and the selfishness of the world for sending us their waste, I researched. Under normal circumstances all medical waste must be disposed off through incinerators after which their smoke should undergo a special process before being released in the atmosphere. The import of medical waste used in operation theatres of countries abroad poses the risk of bringing new and unfound diseases to Pakistan. Pakistan a country where health facilities are not strongly developed, the manufacturing of plastic products from medical waste is a calamity in the making one that can have devastating consequences if the relevant authorities do not step in to curb these practices urgently.

While Pakistan’s import policy clearly mentions that plastic scrap is only importable by manufacturers only for their own use subject to the condition that they shall furnish to Customs authorities a certificate from relevant government agency of the exporting countries that the goods are not hazardous and comply with the provisions of the Basel Convention and it shall not be used in the production of bags for packing of foodstuff”. Unfortunately if one is to look at statistics, the rise in import of plastic scrap by almost 23 thousand tonnes in the last five years is also mainly due to the fact that local trading of plastic scrap is being carried out. The outbreak of Dengue in Punjab was also due to the import of plastic scrap where a mosquito entered Punjab in an imported used tire. More than 300 people were killed as a result while over 14,000 were infected by the disease.

Keeping statistics in mind our masses are uneducated and will eventually be exposed to this plastic in different forms. In fact, the educated population will also not know the difference. As sensationalism goes, I think this new finding is definitely catering to all that our media stands for. Creating a hype over something that actually matters. Stop this waste from being sold any further and care about your fellow human beings Pakistan!

And for the western world sending us their trash – stop dumping your problems on us, we have enough of our own!